Royal Crown Cola reigns in memory – Loveland Reporter-Herald
If you’re a regular reader (and I don’t mean reading this in the tiniest room in your house), you’ll recall that the answer to last week’s “pop quiz” was Royal Crown Cola.
Of course, there is a back story.
Three colas were important in the late 1940s and 1950s. Royal Crown was the third but even thinking about it brought back a fond memory.
My best friend at the time was Kenneth “Kenny” Hooks. Kenny’s father was a bird colonel in the US Air Force and stationed at Kirkland Field in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His pay was such that they lived in a nice house AND HAD A LARGE SIZE TV (for the time).
Kenny’s mother apparently approved of me as a suitable friend for him and sought to encourage me to come to their house frequently. As an incentive, she asked Kenny to invite me to watch “Hopalong Cassidy” on their TV with a big bowl of potato chips washed down with Royal Crown Cola (not exactly the best diet for pimple-prone teenagers) .
I can still imagine the frosted bottle in my mind. It was a dark color underlined by three golden pyramids. The two outside the frame were gold but the one in the center had a red star on top of its top.
The drink was so good – we didn’t have many soft drinks at the Willards.
We moved the following summer when Kenny was visiting an aunt, so I never got the chance to say goodbye to him or really thank his mother for my future memory. I suspect he won’t see this column, but I feel compelled to expand on the story that we young teenagers never knew.
Royal Crown Cola (RC Cola) was invented by Claud A. Hatcher in 1905 at his grocery store in Columbus, Georgia.
By the early 1900s, the popularity of bottled soft drinks was on the rise, and many grocery store owners sought to take advantage of them.
Hatcher was a grocery wholesaler and bought a large amount of Coca-Cola syrup from the local company vendor, Columbus Roberts (no, I can’t explain the first name).
Well, Claud thought he deserved a special rate for the volume of his purchases but Columbus (who didn’t discover Georgia) wouldn’t negotiate. To say that upset Claud would minimize the problem.
He told Columbus what he could do with his syrup – it’s a column read by young people so I can’t go into detail. Claude concluded with I’m going to develop my own soft drink formula.
At that time, garages for product development were scarce, so he started the process in his basement.
He found a recipe for ginger ale – no internet for sources – and started the Union Bottling Works (yes, a strange name for a state that had seceded less than five decades earlier).
Claud followed with Royal Crown Strawberry and Royal Crown Root Beer.
The company dropped out of Union and became Chero-Cola – perhaps grabbing a more appropriate name – in 1910.
This went well and in 1925 the company became Nehi, named after its colored and flavored offerings.
Claud must have had enough of playing with chemicals in 1934, so he handed the fun over to chemist Rufus Kamm and Chero-Cola was reissued as Royal Crown Cola.
The recreation flourished, and by the 1950s royal crown and moon pies were a popular “working lunch” in the southern states (potato chips are not mentioned in my references).
Royal Crown Cola has been marketed over the years with numerous campaigns. A notable in the 1940s featured actress Lizabeth Scott with “RC has the best taste, says Lizabeth Scott” next to her photo.
Two lesser known Muppets, Sour Bird and Nutty Bird, played by Jim Henson were used to promote Royal Crown Cola in 1966. Sour Bird actually appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (probably less sour than Ed).
Royal Crown has stepped up its promotions by sponsoring two adverts in a TV special featuring ‘Old Blue Eyes’ daughter Nancy.
“Movin’ With Nancy” saw her sing “It’s a crazy, crazy, crazy Cola…RC the one that tastes crazy, crazy! …RC.”
I think her dad drank JD not RC but you can’t blame her for trying to make money on her own.
The New York Mets were even sponsored from time to time. One such commercial in the New York area featured Tom Seaver (not known for his terpsichore talent) and his wife Nancy (different Nancy) dancing atop a dugout at Shea Stadium and singing each other’s song. Nancy TV show.
If that wasn’t enough, Louise Mandrell (the prettiest of the three sisters) sang a jingle: “Me and my RC/Me and my RC/”Because what’s good enough/For others/Ain’t good enough good for me”.
Well, you have a point. If you’re just #3 in colas, you need to have nice people to sell your product.
Their ads were fun, but the company also produced innovation.
Royal Crown was the first company to sell soft drinks in cans and later the first to sell soft drinks in aluminum cans.
To top it off, RC introduced the first diet cola, Diet Rite, in 1958.
All that typing has made me thirsty, but I really want one of those cold bottles with the pyramids Kenny’s mom gave me. They were the best.