Hawaiian Punch Didn't Start Out As A Drink

Sweet, but not too sweet; Fruity, with a tropical tang; Thirst quenching, energy boosting, smile-inducing... What's a happier treat than a cool cup of Hawaiian Punch? This pretty red drink has a unique flavor that has not been duplicated since it first graced grocer's shelves in 1950 (via Hawaiian Punch).

Who hasn't enjoyed a mug of the popular punch, mixed with a fizzy friend and the requisite glob of orange sherbert at a special occasion or school fair? Though Hawaiian Punch has become archetypal when it comes to punches, it didn't even start out as punch, or even a beverage. It started as a sticky sweet ice cream topping. Who knew?

In 1934, three entrepreneurs, A.W. Leo, Ralph Harrison, and Tom Yates, who sold ice cream toppings under the trade name Pacific Citrus Products Company, concocted the confection in a converted garage, using tropical ingredients shipped from the Hawaiian Islands. Four years later, the men were granted a patent for Leo's Hawaiian Punch (Hawaiian Punch). The company was then sold in 1946, and the new owners, cognizant of the fact that the syrup, when combined with water, made for a refreshing drink, began packaging and selling bottles of concentrate under their own brand, Pacific Hawaiian Products Co, and in 1950, the 46-oz. can of Hawaiian Punch was introduced.

Hawaiian Punch has changed a lot over the years

By then, fruit punch had come a long way from its inception in the 17th century. Fruit punch was thought of as an alternative to beer for sailors, as beer did not travel well, particularly to warmer climates. Shipmen thus began brewing libations created from ingredients gathered in their tropical ports of call. When sailors of the era returned to their home ports, they brought their affinity for the fruity drink with them. Though it was typically alcoholic in nature, Queen Victoria was not a fan of alcohol, and chose to imbibe the fruity drink sans liquor, and the fruit punch that we now know and love became more popular.

Of course, today's fruit punches are a far cry from those purer concoctions. The original Hawaiian Punch was a combination, according to TodayIFoundOut, of apple, apricot, orange, papaya, passion fruit, guava, and pineapple. Today, Hawaiian Punch is made up of a combination of high fructose corn syrup, water, and various and sundry additives that did not exist back in the day, when food was food, fruit was fruit, and punch was a pleasurable, pure thirst quencher.

That said, the flavor of Hawaiian Punch is unique, and lives on. And, if today's incarnation of fruity beverages aren't really to your liking, perhaps reverting to the product's original intent may be more up your alley? Hawaiian Punch and ice cream, hmmmm... Hawaiian Punch milkshake, anyone?