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It was the best of years. It was the worst of years. As Convenience Store News debuted, so did hundreds of new products -- some were big successes, others missed the mark badly. The pages of the 1969 issues of CSNews contain a myriad of memorable new product announcements and national rollouts.
The biggest convenience store product success story of 1969 was announced in the very first issue of CSNews, April 11, 1969, when Stokley-Van Camp Inc. introduced Gatorade in the southern states and Hawaii. The drink, in lemon-lime flavor only, was packaged in 32-ounce decanters and retailed for 39 cents.
The announcement in CSNews said the non-carbonated drink was "the subject of considerable publicity in recent weeks because of its reported thirst-satisfying qualities and use by athletes." Today, the Gatorade portfolio is available in dozens of flavors and includes two other brands -- Gatorade Tiger (after the famous golfer Tiger Woods) and Propel Fitness Water.
Other long-lasting products circa 1969 were:
-- Coca-Cola's 24-can package
-- Doral cigarettes from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
-- Scripto see-through butane lighters
-- Soft & Dri deodorant from Gillette
-- Danny -- Dannon's chocolate-covered frozen yogurt on a stick
-- Miles Laboratories' Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Tablets
-- Taster's Choice instant coffee from The Nestle Co.
-- Aunt Jemima's Frozen French Toast from Quaker Oats Co.
-- Bird's Eye International recipe frozen vegetables
-- General Mill's' Betty Crocker hash brown potatoes
-- Dofino cheese
Other products have withstood the test of time and have been cited by the c-store industry as favorites. A fountain Coke and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is the choice of Geo H. Green Oil Co.'s Jim Callahan, while Jere Thompson, former president of The Southland Corp./7-Eleven, cited Slurpee, Big Gulp, coffee and all flavored water as his picks. "The gross margins were higher on these products than any other," he explained.
In an interview for this special 40th anniversary edition of CSNews, John Hansen, founder of Kwik Trip, said he has a weakness for the sweet-and-salty combination of salted nut rolls. And John MacDougall, chairman and founder of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, claimed he was "built by Bud," thanks to his love of beer. "Beer has helped me survive 40 years in this business and made me the man I am today," he said.
On the other hand, some products announced in 1969 just didn't cut it. Many of the new introductions were in the beverage and tobacco categories.
Coca-Cola premiered Simba, described by the company as a "tart, citrus-flavored" drink designed to appeal to customers who liked lemon-lime flavored soda. A lion was pictured on the drink cartons and the product was promoted as curing a "roaring thirst" or an "African thirst." Cinematographers were said to have shot authentic backgrounds on game preserves in Africa for use in Simba television commercials.
Not to be outdone, Pepsi introduced Skandi, a citrus-flavored soda, which didn’t last very long either.
Another new 1969 beverage was Pep-o-milk, a non-dairy, imitation milk produced by Farmer's Daughter (no jokes, please) of Studio City, Calif.
Later in the year, real milk was supposed to be added to Gatorade to produce a "new quick energy drink." Today, energy drinks are even more convenient, and probably tastier than a dairy-isotonic mix.
For those who preferred more traditional thirst quenchers, 7-Eleven presaged the private-label boom by offering its own 7-Eleven brand beer, in 12-ounce pop-top cans.
Citrus was a favored flavor in other categories as well. Philip Morris rolled out Parliament Orange Menthol cigarettes, and for those who preferred their menthol without fruit, the Lido cigarette, advertised as having "cool tasting Brazilian menthol," was introduced.
American Tobacco Co. had a new product, too: American Ovals. Why, you may ask? "They made American Ovals because round cigarettes are square."