Grapette Soda - EHS1961

Arkansas Grape Soda Making A Comeback

Reported by: Pete Thompson

KARK 4 News Thursday, Oct 4, 2007 @05:34pm

An Arkansas brand name is making a come-back. Grapette was once of one the top-selling soft drinks in the nation, but for many years it vanished without a trace.

In the 1930's, a traveling Arkansas soft drink salesman noticed that his grape flavors always outsold the others...and that's when he hatched an idea, according to the Vice-President of Grapette International David Rice. "He set to developing world's grapiest grape soda, and we think he's done a pretty good job."

That man's name was Tindall Fooks, and the company he built in Camden, Arkansas was called Grapette, named after the soft drink that became an overnight sensation.

By the late 1940's, the drink outsold every other grape soda combined in the U.S. At the height of its popularity, Grapette was a trademark brand in 40 states, but one day it just seemed to disappear.

In the late 1960's, Fooks decided to sell Grapette which finally wound up in the hands of the Monarch Beverage Company who already made their own grape soda. "They took that trademark simply to squash the competition” said Rice, “and it virtually disappeared for the better part of three to four decades."And with that... some say an iconic symbol was lost. "It was like the horse drawn carriage,” said Rice, “it was something truly part of generation that no longer was."

But while all of that was going on, Grapette drinks were still flourishing in other countries...thanks to Grapette International. The export company, founded by Rice's grandfather, managed to survive the original buy-out in the 1960's. They retained the brand's name and formula, but they couldn't sell under their trademark name in the U.S.

But in the 80's and 90's they began to sell their drinks through Wal-Mart under the name Sam's Choice. In 2000, the original trademark was finally up for sale again and Grapette International purchased it "For the first time in several decades... The Grapette brand name was matched with the flavor just like our customers remembered," said Rice.

Now sold at Wal-Mart retailers across the U.S., Rice says 40 years later Grapette is rapidly approaching its former glory. Grapette will be profiled in an upcoming Food Network episode of the show, “Unwrapped.”