Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunny Isles Sparkling Pineapple Soda

One of the rarest bottles from my local area isn’t actually a local brand as one would expect, but is in reality a franchise brand that had a relatively long history, and very little of it left for researchers like myself to find. I am of course referring to Sunny Isles which while originally just a pineapple flavored soda actually grew into an entire line of drinks before disappearing into history sometime in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s.

Most of what I knew before I started researching came from the records of the now defunct Marion Bottling Company. It appears that they started bottling the brand in 1940; however, according to a 1945 letter from the Sunny Isles Corporation there had been freezing and rationing of pineapple juice brought on by World War II. That combined with the sugar rationing had lost them many of their franchise bottlers except for a few that had continued bottling the brand.

This letter also states that the Murray Company, manufacturers of the Murray Cotton Gin, who apparently had purchased the company, wanted to know if the Marion Bottling Company would be willing to bottle the brand again. The answer was apparently no as the bottler was actively trying to sell the bottles to another bottler in later letters, but finding no buyers. In the last letter I have on the subject the bottler was told by Chattanooga Glass to break them up for cull, which is most likely the reason these bottles are so rare from Marion, VA.

Sunny Isles Inc. was incorporated in the state of Georgia on August 8, 1939, and was originally located in the Hurt Building Suite 1045, Atlanta Georgia. Their first bottle features a red and yellow ACL (Applied Color Label) on green glass featuring a mountain with the sun behind, and Sunny Isles in an arch in front, of it. There are also palm trees on one side and a pineapple plant on the right. This bottle incorporates an embossed texture on the shoulder and heel which mimics the outside of a pineapple. This has to be one of the best examples of a bottle combining an ACL and embossing that I have ever come across which is why I started collecting the brand.

As the aforementioned letter states they had issue within the first couple of years of their existence due to the outbreak of World War II; however, apparently under new ownership they were soon back on track and are located at 420 Courtland Street, Atlanta, GA by 1945. In 1947 they have a new ACL design on their bottles which is basically the same but with Sunny Isles being horizontal rather than arched. The company is actively advertising for franchises in the bottling industry magazines as well. They have once again moved to 237 Trinity Avenue S. W. in Atlanta GA. Yet again they have redesigned the label with new simpler design, and the brand name has a new thinner font which will actually follow the brand throughout the rest of its history.

Having been solely a pineapple soda, Sunny Isles appears to be revamping its image with the introduction of other flavors in the 1950’s. Ko Ko Nut, a flavor mixing both Pineapple and Coconut, was introduced in 1955. In these ads their address is given as 72 11th street N. E., Atlanta, GA. Sunny Isles Tropical Quinine Water is being marketed in 1956 as a chaser for Gin, Vodka, and Rum. Introduced around the same time is Red Mule Ginger Beer which can be mixed with Vodka to create a “Moscow Mule.” From these two flavors the Sunny Isles Tropical Mixers line is created in 1957, which aside from the Tropical Quinine Water and Red Mule, includes a pale dry ginger ale, lemon-grapefruit mixer, and a “professional type” Sparkling Water.

By this point I had guessed that the original pineapple soda that Sunny Isles started as was no longer in existence; however, according to a blurb in one of the bottling industry magazines they are indeed still producing it in 1958. The blurb also states that they have created a new drink mixing grapefruit with pineapple flavors, but they hadn’t yet designed a bottle for this new flavor. So they were offering crowns so that their bottlers could bottle it in their own bottles. This is the last mention of Sunny Isles that I have found. Sunny Isles, Inc. was dissolved officially as a corporation in 1990. There are so many of these lesser known brands in the history of soft drinks in this country that we may never know the history of all of them, but it is always fun to try.

1940 Sunny Isles bottle
1948 Sunny Isles bottle

1949 Sunny Isles bottle

Porto Rico Sunny Isles bottle

Sunny Isles bottle cap

Sunny Isles paper label

1949 Sunny Isles ad

1945 Sunny Isles letterhead

Sunny Isles truck

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