Whatever Happened to Sunny Delight?

Originally marketed as a 'healthy alternative' to fizzy pop, Sunny Delight was the sickly coloured wonder drink that kids could guzzle through a whole Simpsons marathon without being told off by their parents.

This was because the clever people at Procter & Gamble had somehow convinced us that despite essentially being a concentrated dose of diabetes, it was actually good for us. To understand how they got away with this for so long you have to realise it was the 90's: healthy food hadn't been invented yet. Chips glowed in the dark, meat was made of synthetics and buying vegetables was just a cause for your girlfriend to question your sexuality.

It's natural that parents overlooked these things. You can't give your kids actual fruit juice
because they'll become confused and try hiding it in their eyelids. But they sure as shit will drink some dark orange goo that smells like fruit dipped in acid, so that'll have to do.

Hell, it even had two virtually identical flavours: Florida and California. No one knew the difference, but all those additives made us tetchy enough to start minor playground wars over our favourites. Mine was Florida. Say any different and I'll shove my Power Rangers lunch box down your throat.

It was so popular that within months of its launch it had become the biggest selling soft drink behind Coke and Pepsi, later earning them sales of £160 million a year. To put that into perspective, they were only two places behind the company that owns freakin' Santa Clause. It was all going so well...

... then a girl turned yellow.

The four year old from Wales had been drinking a litre and a half of Sunny Delight a day. Now, she didn't die or anything. In fact the same exact thing would happen if you drank an equally insane amount of carrot juice. But the damage was done. Sunny Delight's wholesome image was tarnished forever.

Worse still for Procter & Gamble, parents started to wonder what was in this so-called 'health drink'. Turns out things really were too good to be true. Way too good. The fruit juice element only came to around 5% of the whole beverage. The other 95% was a concoction of additives, colouring and a whole load of sugar. In fact, a single glass of the stuff was the sugar equivalent of a can of coca-cola, which as we all know is so bad for you that it could melt down a hippo in a nanosecond.

Not surprisingly their sales plummeted and by 2003 the business was sold on. It was later repackaged as Sunny D, but it lacked the magic that could only be achieved through being unhealthy as fuck. We've been unable to get any reliable sales figures for the once mighty beverage, but needless to say it's a fraction of what it once was.

Despite now being a fully grown adult who has a vague understanding of how bad this stuff is, I'd still love to have a glass just for old times sake. Give me some Turkey Twizzlers while you're at it and I'll party like it's 1999, at least until I throw up.

Words by Ben Gibson