Hey, how ‘bout a nice Hawaiian Punch?
I love Hawaiian Punch. Everyone does. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying.
As a kid, I adored those huge canisters of the powdered mix. As I recall, Hawaiian Punch’s mixes came sugared, so while trying to eat “raw” Kool-Aid would leave you puckering, Hawaiian Punch’s powder was like naked Fun Dip. So good!
Drinking it always felt like such a big occasion. I’d savor each sip like a good wine. Sometimes I’d pretend it was energon and do my bad Soundwave impression once I finished. Life was better, then. I still had Snake Mountain.
Below are six delicious facts about Hawaiian Punch. I don’t know why I’m writing this.
Hawaiian Punch was born as an ice cream topping!
As the story goes, Hawaiian Punch was invented by three guys in a garage as an ice cream topping. Sold as Leo’s Hawaiian Punch, the syrupy goop became a popular condiment at certain 1930s ice cream parlors.
Eventually, kids realized that they liked Leo’s Hawaiian Punch even better when they mixed it with plain water. The parlor owners took note and started offering it that way, usually as a lure to get kids to buy their more expensive ice cream. (Meaning that they wouldn’t sell glasses of Hawaiian Punch directly, but would make you a glass if you ordered two scoops of vanilla first.)
Incredibly, it wasn’t until 1946 — more than ten years after Hawaiian Punch’s debut — that it was finally marketed as a beverage.
Punchy’s hair ISN’T hair.
If you already knew this, kudos, because half the world didn’t.
While today’s more sophisticated renderings of Punchy make it obvious that he’s wearing a hat, it was a different story with the Punchy of yesteryear. (Punchy was born in 1962.)
People closer to my age (and certainly people older than me) best know the Hawaiian Punch mascot as a sort of impish monster with chalk white skin and no use for pants.
Like so many others, I grew up believing that Punchy’s hat was actually his hair. The bright locks and wild hairdo sure seemed to fit a character who wandered around looking for strangers to punch, but nope, it’s a hat. (Or at least antlers, according to one old commercial.)
In this gif, made from an early Hawaiian Punch commercial, you can clearly see Punchy’s unimpressive mop.
Some flavors are gone forever.
There are many different Hawaiian Punch flavors available today, but there are even more buried in history.
Of all the discontinued flavors, the one I’d most love to see again is Tutti Frutti Punch. Hell, I’d even settle for a closer look at the ingredients, just so I could know which fruits are necessary should one ever want to promote a product under the “Tutti Frutti” banner.
“Tutti Frutti” sounds like neon ambrosia, and the fact that I missed the chance to drink neon ambrosia will haunt me for however long it stays true. (Tutti Frutti Punch debuted in the ‘70s and only barely made it to the ‘80s. By the time I could say its name, it was dead.)
Other fallen flavors include Sunshine Yellow and Cherry Royal.
In 1988, Hi-C punched back.
It’s no secret that there was and remains serious competition in the kid beverage biz, but this was a particularly low blow from the makers of Hi-C.
Back in 1988, Hi-C introduced Hula Punch, an unmistakable attempt to (figuratively) dilute Hawaiian Punch’s famous flavor.
The launch commercial for Hula Punch claimed it was “totally Hawaiian,” which was about as close as they could get to saying “we made Hawaiian Punch” without being sued.
Even Hula Punch’s packaging was made to resemble Hawaiian Punch’s, with the same liberal use of bold reds and pool table blues.
There are seven fruits in every glass of Hawaiian Punch.
While it’s likely that the formula has changed over the years, I can at least tell you which fruits are currently hiding in Hawaiian Punch. (Meaning the original flavor, Fruit Juicy Red.)
In order of prominence, there’s apple, pineapple, passionfruit, orange, apricot, papaya and guava. Seven different fruits! The F7 to V8’s V8.
Don’t get too excited, though. Given that today’s Hawaiian Punch is only 5% juice, you can picture those seven fruits huddled in a lifeboat over a sea of garbage.
Hawaiian Punch saved Bubble Yum.
Okay, maybe it’s an overstatement to say that Hawaiian Punch “saved” Bubble Yum, but it at least changed its oil.
In 1989, there was stiff competition between candy companies to enter the ‘90s with schoolyard buzz. Many of Bubble Yum’s flavors were almost comically on-point for the ‘80s, but if they were gonna survive the edgy ’90s, they needed to become more hip and more now.
Bubble Yum’s solution was to unleash three “fresh” flavors, including Strawberry Stripe, Wet ‘n Wild Watermelon, and… Hawaiian Punch.
Only the Hawaiian Punch stuck, but boy, it stuck like glue. The flavor was so popular that I still consider the 1990 debut of Bubblicious’s Paradise Punch a direct response to it. (And probably the only gum that’s ever managed to top it.)
The marriage between Hawaiian Punch and Bubblicious didn’t last. Hawaiian Punch gum was later made by Hubba Bubba, but nothing beat the Bubble Yum original. (Well, except Paradise Punch. I love Paradise Punch.)
Thank you for reading about Hawaiian Punch. I encourage you use these facts during casual conversation. Remember to incorporate exaggerated hand gestures if it’s looking like the stories aren’t landing.