Sale into the 90s--a 1980s/1990s history Tumblr

A tumblr about 1980s and 1990s history, and I use the term "history" very loosely.

The 1980s | The 1990s

My Retail History Blog | The Zine

83. Cappio (1992-1996)

We take iced coffee for granted these days, its everywhere you go. However, in the early 1990s, iced coffee was a weird novelty. I don’t even remember seeing iced coffee in bottles until I went to Anchorage to visit family the Summer of 1996, and I saw the Starbucks bottled Frappuchino drinks for the first time. 

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(See, I brought the bottle back to Virginia with me, I had mocha and coffee too, but I don’t know where they are right now.) 

It wasn’t until YouTube did I know that there was a bottled iced coffee way before the bottled Frappucnino drinks. In the fall of 1992, Maxwell House bottled an iced coffee named Cappio 1

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(commercial) (2) (3)

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The flavors were coffee, cinnamon, and mocha. The product was aimed at younger college aged coffee drinkers. Check out the low low prices on ‘dat Cappio:

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I love the Andy Rooney-esque title for that article, “Doesn’t Anybody Drink Coffee Black Anymore?”

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"Maxwell House introduces Cappio iced cappuchino."Hudson Valley News, June 24, 1992. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jehFAAAAIBAJ&sjid=tR0NAAAAIBAJ&dq=maxwell house cappio&pg=5230,2615667 (accessed June 4, 2013).

Maxwell House created Cappio as an easier way to drink cappuccino, without the expensive maker, and also as a response to people who were tired of drinking the same boring cup of coffee every day: 

Coffee has the potential to be a small luxury in a time when bigger luxuries aren’t affordable, said Margery Schelling, senior product manager for Maxwell House, the industry leader in coffee innovations for the supermarket shelf.

She added, “People still are drinking coffee. But today, it can be in many different forms and flavors.”

Her own daily regimen includes regular coffee in the morning, a bottle of Cappio (the company’s new flavored cappuccino that’s meant to be served chilled or over ice) at lunch time or in the afternoon and a cup of Maxwell House Cappuccino (a new, instant beverage that comes in the same flavors as Cappio — coffee, mocha and cinnamon) sometime in the evening. 

Although Schelling conceded that freshly brewed espresso and cappuccino are the ideals, she said, “Our studies have shown that less than 10 percent of American households have a $200 or more machine to turn out these specialty beverages. We’re providing alternatives.

"Cappio can be poured over ice or chilled and drunk straight from the bottle. All a person has to do to our Maxwell House Cappuccino is pour the contents of the envelope into a cup, add hot water and stir to get good flavor and the familiar cap of froth that’s expected from cappuccino." 3

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(source [Flickr member “Pete’s Old Food”])

Cappio was at least around long enough to enjoy a brief moment at the White House:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 19 /PRNewswire/ — According to the March 22 edition U.S. News and World Report, officials at the White House have “maxed out” on the coffee budget due to working late hours on the economic plan. Everyone is obliged to operate under the BYOC budget rule: “Bring Your Own Coffee.” Maxwell House Coffee Company, a division of Kraft General Foods, Inc., is coming to the rescue and sending Clinton officials 20 cases of Maxwell House coffee, just in time for more long hours of work on the nation’s pressing issues. “At Maxwell House, we have found that behind every great idea, there’s a cup of coffee,” said Chuck Phillips, president of Maxwell House. “We hope that this coffee will help spark the imaginations of Clinton and his staff, and spark the American economy, at the same time.” The coffee, which includes Maxwell House Colombian Supreme coffee, Sanka decaffeinated coffee and Cappio iced cappuccino, is due to arrive at the White House next week. Maxwell House, Cappio and Sanka are registered trademarks of Kraft General Foods, Inc. -0- 3/19/93

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Kraft Foods discontinued Cappio in early 1996, citing that the product only made $11 million the few years it was on the market. 3 

Related links:

Cappio t-shirt

Maxwell House Ready to Drink Brewed Coffee  - a product that constantly comes up on “what were they thinking?” lists. Back in 1990 when this was introduced, people didn’t really phantom drinking this straight from the carton, it was only to be heated up in the microwave (but you couldn’t heat the carton up in the microwave!), which was a total time waster, when you could just make a cup of coffee. 

Good To The Last Pop: The Hottest Concept In Coffee Is Cold Cans. Will America Buy It?" - 1991 Chicago Tribune about this new development called … iced coffee. 

"Starbucks Does Not Live By Coffee Alone 1996 Businessweek article about the launch of the Frappuchino drinks. 

38.) Pillsbury FROZEN?! Microwaveable Popcorn

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…. because I know (even in the early 1980s when microwave popcorn was just being developed) to search for my popcorn in the FROZEN FOODS DEPARTMENT. 

The book “Popped Culture: a social history of popcorn in America”, states that early versions of microwave popcorn was sold frozen because back in the early 1980s, food scientists could not find a way to preserve the coconut oil used in heating up the popcorn kernels so the popcorn could stay on the shelves. Freezing was the only option. 1

This New York Times article about the Great Pop Corn Wars of 1987, lists the competing brands of microwave popcorn at that time:

One pattern in the highly competitive packaged-snack-food industry is that, where there is demand, an abundance of supply will surely follow. Indeed, there are now five major brands slugging it out: Pillsbury’s Microwave Popcorn, General Mills’ Pop Secret, American Pop Corn’s Jolly Time, Nabisco’s Planters Premium Select and, of course, Beatrice’s Orville Redenbacher’s Microwave Popping Corn. Several smaller companies, including the food concern of the actor Paul Newman, have also jumped into the fray.

The two popcorns not being manufactured today? Pillsbury, and to a lesser extent, Planters, which I didn’t even know discontinued their microwave popcorn, until I Googled it, and saw nothing. Maybe they discontinued it when they discontinued the precious cheez balls. 

Did you know that Orville Redenbacher had a frozen popcorn too?!

Related Links:

"Pillsbury Leads Growth in Microwave Food Products - Pittsburgh Press 10/5/88

14. Del Monte Vegetable Classics (1988-1992)

If you are a person who enjoys watching old commercials from the early 90s, then you’ve probably seen a few commercials for Del Monte Vegetable Classics.

You may of wondered what exactly they were, were they microwaveable vegetables? Did they have spices, and other additions to make them stand out from canned vegetables? What was up with that girls glasses in the commercials?

…its like someone put in magnifying glasses glass in her frames instead of regular eyeglass um, glass.

There were a whole series of commercials for the product, each involving Magnifo and her little brother Billy. In each one, the two are trying to get the word out to kids that their parents are going to buy these vegetables and force feed them to the kids.

Kids, this is a cupboard. It used to be for cookies, but now its full of Del Monte Vegetable Classics. What’s the World coming to?”

Billy is Magnifo’s Teller to her Penn. He never says anything.

Oh, in that commercial, Magnifo confirms that some of the ‘classics have sauces. Oh, yeah, also in the same commercial, Magnifo says “…and you know what THAT means?”…WHAT does it mean? You’ll be eating Del Monte Vegetable Classics for dinner every night until the day you go off to college? (as one commentator said) mom and dad’ll divorce? What does she mean?

A&E showed tons of these commercials during their daytime block. Last year, I found someone’s almost complete set of Avengers shows they recorded from A&E in 1990, 1991. Almost every episode of Avengers had at least one commercial spot for Vegetable Classics. Sometimes Avengers would even be presented by Vegetable Classics:

Wow, Del Monte didn’t even try. It’s a poorly lit photo, that was then developed, and filmed by a camcorder?

However, even with Magnifo, Teller, Billy, and this 55¢ off coupon 1, nothing could save the product. By 1992, Del Monte pulled production, writing off 15 million dollars in excess product. 2

Magnifo and Billy had won.