While the two soft drink giants, Coke and Pepsi, waged war against each other throughout the 1970s, New Yorkers enjoyed a third alternative. With its unique flavor and enticing bargain price for anyone on a budget, C&C Cola managed to contend with the two behemoths and win the hearts of many a Long Island family.
Cantrell and Cochrane Limited, makers of C&C Cola, entered into the beverage business way back in 1852. Originally located in Belfast, Ireland, the company moved to America in 1955, introducing a unique cone top can that was more economical to produce than glass containers. Original flavors included Ginger Ale, Root Beer, Lemon Up and Orange. C&C marketed their beverages extensively in conjunction with RKO Pictures, placing ads in over 700 films.
In 1962, the company made a smart move when it hired a flavor chemist named John Ritchie to help them develop a new cola flavor. Ritchie had a bit of a track record being that he created Pepsi’s flavor in the 40s. The result was a unique, full-flavored cola that some consider similar to an RC Cola.
Where the new cola really shined though was in the price department. C&C Cola regularly boasted in their advertisements that they were cheaper than either Coke or Pepsi, and they were. By only distributing their beverages to large stores, they were able to keep their costs lower, an appealing factor for families trying to make ends meet.
Did Coke and Pepsi lose any sleep over C&C’s good fortune in the 70s? Probably not, but the soft drink underdog did something many other competitors were unable to do; it stayed afloat, and remains a popular alternative in the Northeast to this day, offering an extensive selection of flavors, from the originals to a number of novelty flavors, including cotton candy and red candy apple soda. The company is currently making a push to expand into more cities around the country, so maybe those that have moved away over the years will eventually be able to get their fix once again.
Did you your family make C&C Cola their soft drink of choice in the 70s? Do you still prefer its flavor over the big two? We’d love to hear all of your memories of this soda underdog in our comments section below.