This Sunny Delight, it was some sort of super drink. You couldn't believe how good it tasted and your old folks couldn't believe how good it was for you. I mean it actually got you drinking something resembling orange juice that apparently had vitamins and other stuff that was supposed to be healthy. Hmmm. Sounds too good to be true...
Sunny Delight advert from 1998:
Turned out it was too good to be true. WAAAY too good. For starters (and this is NOTHING compared to what's next), it somehow came out that this 'healthy' beverage was actually only 5% juice. Yes, 5%. Which obviously meant that the other 95% was food colouring, sugar and a load of other extremely unhealthy rubbish. In fact, one glass of Sunny Delight had the same amount of sugar as a can of Coke. No wonder it tasted so good.
This really wasn't Sunny Delight's year. You see, around the same time as these revelations were coming out, some poor, poor four year old girl in Wales was very publicly admitted to hospital following being turned a 'yellow colour' by consuming too much Sunny Delight. Seriously. Apparently the kid had been drinking 1.5 litres a day of the stuff which is about seven and a half glasses. Perhaps her parents had a tap which poured Sunny Delight instead of water? Wasn't this kind of lifestyle expensive?
Anyway, the yellow colouring she turned was all due to all the beta carotene in the drink. Beta carotene is a pro vitamin A which is found in low doses in vegetables such as carrots and produces their orange colour. Every glass of Sunny Delight contained 120 micrograms of beta carotene which is around 30% of the recommended daily intake for an adult. However, since the girl was drinking seven and a half glasses a day, she would have been consuming over twice as much of the recommended daily intake for an adult, never mind for a child. And this excessive consumption of beta carotene can lead to yellowing of the skin. So this meant, shock horror, it could happen to you too.
A spokesperson for Procter and Gamble (Sunny Delight's owners) obviously desperate for the company to save face reassured everyone that the colour change wasn't really anything to do with Sunny Delight, as it could also happen if a person ate too much carrot juice and was only temporary anyway, as a person's colour would go back to normal in a couple of weeks. Clearly they were clutching at straws here.
|Looks healthy enough to me.|
Not surprisingly, by 2001 sales had halved and Sunny Delight went from the third bestselling drink in the UK to the forty second. The marketers were so desperate to top up the plummeting sales that at some point they recruited S Club 7 (shame on them!) to star in their adverts:
None of this worked and Procter and Gamble completely gave up on the product in 2003 and sold it on. It was then relaunched and remarketed as Sunny D. The product has in fact had quite a few relaunches over the years with the marketers trying out new adverts, slogans and even changing the ingredients. At one point they even changed the juice content to 70% (so it was actually healthy this time, not just fake healthy). However profits could never reach anywhere near what they once did.
|Sunny Delight during its 'Sunny D' phase.|
Even after all that through the years Sunny Delight is somehow still going today and it's actually called Sunny Delight again! I was really curious to find out what it tastes and looks like now. Would it be as delicious and yellow and amazing as I remembered from back in 1999? Well first off, it's pretty hard to get hold of these days. Don't try health shops they do NOT stock it, only a couple of supermarket chains seem to do it. I did manage it though:
|Sunny Delight in 2012.|
They also seem to be really pushing the whole idea that the drink has no added sugar, is rich in vitamin C and doesn't have any artificial sweeteners, flavours or preservatives in. Perhaps a healthy alternative to other soft drinks for the kids at a low cost? Sounds a little too good to be true I think...
Check out my other post Whatever happened to BN biscuits?