Sun Drop brand going national

Soon everyone will have a chance to do what those in Shawano area do nearly everyday — drink Sun Drop.

The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. announced plans last week to start selling Sun Drop nationwide early next year.

Sun Drop — which has been around since 1928 — has a strong following in just a handful of mainly southern states and other pockets of areas.

“Sun Drop was always just a territorial drink,” said Twigs Beverage, Inc. president Dan Hartwig. “Down the Carolinas it’s popular, the eastern part of Tennessee and Kentucky too.”

Twigs Beverage, Inc. has been bottling the gold soda since 1951 when Floyd Hartwig started the small business in Shawano.

“He was the first bottler in the state of Wisconsin to bottle Sun Drop,” Dan Hartwig said of his father. “At one time there were probably over 100 bottlers in the country that bottled exactly like we do. (Now) we’re the last ones doing Sun Drop in a returnable bottle in the whole country.”

Hartwig noted that more Sun Drop — which is made with orange juice and packs more caffeine than Mountain Dew — is sold in eastern Wisconsin than the United States west of the Mississippi River.

“I think (Dr. Pepper Snapple) saw the light and looked at this brand and they’re going to put some emphasis into it and it’s going to help everybody out,” Hartwig said.

It’s expansion is part of Dr. Pepper Snapple’s strategy to fortify consumer interest in flavored sodas, a non-cola segment of the soft drink industry in which the company specializes.

To reach Sun Drop’s target market of 15- to 17-year-olds, Dr. Pepper Snapple developed a revenue-sharing agreement with Viacom Inc.’s MTV network. MTV’s new marketing arm has designed the drink’s advertising and image, down to a redesign of the can that will appear in January. The network also will feature Sun Drop in MTV programming, including reality TV shows such as “The Real World.”

“I’ve seen (Sun Drop) growing in popularity the last several years, but on a small scale,” Hartwig said. “With the little bit that they’re doing, they can actually grow it in bigger numbers.”

Hartwig said the reason Sun Drop is so popular in the Shawano area is because of his father.

“Sun Drop was out long before Mountain Dew was on the market,” Hartwig said. “It’s the original citrus softdrink. My father got it established long before Mountain Dew came into the market.”

Sun Drop was created in 1928 by Charles Lazier in St. Louis, Mo.

Hartwig said the plan for Dr. Pepper Snapple to go nationwide will help his company as well because of advertising dollars.

“We’re small, so we can’t afford to do a lot, but if they’re going to do it and pay for it, it’s going to benefit our company,” Hartwig said, noting that Dr. Pepper Snapple is planning on some $20 million for advertising the product nationwide. “People will know the product and drink it and like it and will have better access to it. It’ll help us out all the way around.”

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By Cory Dellenbach, Leader Reporter
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