Obituary: Arnold Greenberg / One of the founders of Snapple beverage company

Sept. 2, 1932 - Oct. 26, 2012

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Arnold Greenberg, who began his career selling pickles and herring from a New York City storefront and went on to become a founder of Snapple, the international beverage giant, died Oct. 26 in New York City. He was 80.

A resident of Delray Beach, Fla., who also had homes in Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y., Mr. Greenberg had been ill with cancer for some time, his family said.

In 1972, Mr. Greenberg, who by then was running a health food store in the East Village in Manhattan, joined forces with two old friends, Leonard Marsh and Hyman Golden, to sell fruit juices to health food stores. A part-time concern -- Mr. Greenberg retained his store and Marsh and Golden kept the window-washing business they ran together -- the juice business performed modestly in its early years.

Then, in the late '70s, the three men hit on the idea of producing a soft drink flavored only with natural juice. An early effort by their company, by then known as Unadulterated Food Products, was an explosive failure: They marketed a carbonated apple juice that fermented in its bottles and sent a spate of caps blasting.

But the name they had coined for the drink, Snapple (an amalgam of "snappy" and "apple"), proved so evocative that it was soon adopted by the company as a whole.

The Snapple Beverage Corp. became one of the first companies to offer a wide line of juices and carbonated drinks made with natural ingredients. Sales were buoyed by the rising tide of health-conscious consumers in the 1980s; in 1987, after Snapple introduced the first in its line of bottled iced teas, it became an undisputed leader in the New Age beverage market.

The company also became known for its offbeat advertising. An early 1990s campaign by Kirshenbaum & Bond was built around a series of television spots featuring the Snapple Lady. A motherly character played by an actual Snapple employee, Wendy Kaufman, the Snapple Lady answered customers' letters.

By 1994, when Snapple was bought for $1.7 billion by the Quaker Oats Co., it was recording annual sales of about $700 million.

Mr. Greenberg, Snapple's executive vice president and chief operating officer, retired after the Quaker Oats sale. Snapple is now owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, based in Plano, Texas; its product line comprises more than 50 flavors of juice, fruit punches and teas.

Arnold Shepard Greenberg was born in New York City on Sept. 2, 1932. His father owned an appetizing store in the East Village, selling staples like lox, herring and pickles; by the 1950s, Arnold Greenberg was running it.

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