A Brief History Of Tru-Ade
Article found on Frans Finest
On August 25, 1938, Lee C. Ward of Los Angeles, CA developed a non-carbonated orange soft drink, successfully trademarking the TruAde brand on January 3, 1939. The original formula contained orange juice concentrate, which required pasteurization of the product on the returnable bottling lines of the era. The brand was available from coast to coast by 1950, but was most popular on the east coast of the U.S.
Ward formed TruAde, Inc. shortly thereafter, and moved it to Elgin, Illinois in the 1940’s. The company later moved its headquarters to adjacent Chicago, Illinois, and changed its name to The TruAde Company. Ward expanded his single line of 7oz and 10oz returnable bottles of non-carbonated orangeade to include grape, and briefly marketed non-carbonated grapefruit in green bottles (these bottles are quite rare).
Most early TruAde bottlers were associated with local 7-Up bottlers, but TruAde was also found in Dr. Pepper, RC, or other independent beverage franchises. However, there were many Pepsi-Cola bottlers that acquired TruAde franchises after merging with a 7-Up bottler, many of whom were located in the Carolinas. TruAde’s largest franchisee during its heyday was a huge 7-Up bottling conglomerate, Joyce Beverages. Based in Chicago, Illinois, the Joyce family owned large swaths of 7-Up franchise territories in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, and Washington, DC, and was 7-Up’s largest franchised bottler at one time.
As bottler consolidation progressed quickly in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the TruAde brand began suffering, losing distribution to new flavor brand introductions and TruAde’s pasteurization requirement. Alas, TruAde reformulated in the early 1980’s, dropping orange juice from its concentrate, hence no longer requiring the complex production requirements. The move was too little, too late.
Joyce Beverages, which later moved its headquarters to Washington, DC, bought the struggling TruAde brand in 1982 and also moved it to Washington, DC, continuing to support the few remaining TruAde bottlers into the late 1980’s. Alas, the 7-Up brand also suffered severe sales slumps in the early 1980’s, which pushed Joyce Beverages into bankruptcy in 1984. Joyce 7-Up franchises were divided up and sold in 1986 amongst several neighboring 7-Up bottlers, and a few new 7-Up franchisees: Honickman, Kemmerer Resources, and Brooks Beverage Management. Most of these new 7-Up franchisees discontinued the TruAde brand.
From the ashes of Joyce Beverages’ bankruptcy, the TruAde trademark was transferred to Joyce/ Canfield, Inc. of New Rochelle in 1985, then to New York 7-Up Bottling Company, Inc. in 1986, then in 1992 to Alec C. Gunter, a former chemist with The TruAde Company in Chicago. After Gunter acquired the TruAde trademark, he transferred it in 1997 to his company, Bottler’s International, LTD, based in Clearbrook, VA, which owned several other small beverage trademarks. After the TruAde acquisition, Gunter personally visited the former TruAde bottlers, attempting to relaunch the brand, but met with failure as he lacked access to production facilities. He attempted to convince Pepsi-Cola bottler co-op, Carolina Canners of Cheraw, SC (CCI) to produce 12oz TruAde Orangeade cans again, but could not garner enough interest amongst the Carolina TruAde franchisees to gain a production run. It is unknown if Gunter had any active TruAde franchises or bottlers when he acquired the trademark.
Fast forward to July, 2010: CCI was seeking to find, acquire, or create a competitive flavor line for its member-bottlers. It was discovered that the non-carbonated brand, TruAde, a product familiar to all CCI bottlers who sold it in the 1970’s and 1980’s, was available – its U.S. trademark had expired in 2009 and there were no known TruAde bottlers or distributors in the U.S. All calls to TruAde and/or Bottlers’ International, LTD went unanswered, or phone numbers had been disconnected. The trademark attorney representing Bottlers’ International, LTD was contacted. He informed CCI officials that Gunter had passed away several years back, and offered to apply for the now-defunct TruAde trademark in CCI’s name. CCI agreed and began the trademark process in earnest in August, 2010.
However, unbeknownst to any Pepsi-Cola bottlers at the time, PepsiCo planned to announce in December, 2010 the discontinuation of its non-carbonated Tropicana brand of flavored soft drinks (ie. orangeade, lemonade), all of which were popular in the South, and the Carolinas in particular. These Tropicana flavors would be transferred to, and continued to be sold under PepsiCo’s Brisk Tea brand in March, 2011. CCI unknowingly continued development of the TruAde brand and, under trademark counsel, eventually produced 6 initial flavors of TruAde in 3 package sizes for its member-bottlers in April, 2011 as the few remaining Tropicana packages began to sell out of the Carolina marketplace. Sales of the rejuvenated TruAde brand were surprisingly high for the CCI bottlers, easily outpacing the same Tropicana flavors due to TruAde’s strong brand name recognition from 20+ years previous.
CCI was officially awarded the U.S. trademark for TruAde in September, 2011. Since TruAde’s reintroduction, several non-Pepsi bottlers/distributors covering most of NC and SC, and part of VA and GA have signed agreements to sell TruAde in their territories.