Niles Foster, a former bakery and bottling plant owner, created the drink in 1946. It took Foster over a year to develop the ideal formula for Hi-C orange drink, containing orange juice concentrate, peel oil and orange essences, sugar, water, citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The name "Hi-C" referred to its high vitamin content. Hot-packed in enamel-lined 56-ounce cans, the product needed no refrigeration before opening. After test marketing in 1947, Hi-C orange drink was introduced in 1948 with a massive promotional effort, spending thousands of pre-inflation dollars weekly per market on promotions. Foster entered into an agreement with Clinton Foods, Inc., to produce and market Hi-C, with Foster managing the Hi-C business.
Originally marketed in the southern United States, Hi-C was introduced into the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets in 1949. As markets for Hi-C were expanded nationwide, so were the contract operations, strategically located near major market areas. The multi-plant system facilitated quick product shipping, minimizing out-of-date merchandise problems. New flavors of Hi-C fruit drinks were developed as an outgrowth of the contract packer system. Grape, the second flavor introduced, evolved naturally from the fact that the Geneva, Ohio, co-packer was also processing fresh grapes. Apple and cherry drinks were introduced as a result of the fresh fruit processing operations at the Paw Paw, Michigan, co-packer plant. The contract packing concept is still used today by the Coca-Cola Foods Division. As the Hi-C business continued to grow, it attracted the attention of the Minute Maid Corporation, and in 1954 Clinton Foods, Inc., sold its Florida holdings, including Hi-C fruit drinks, to Minute Maid. Niles Foster left the Minute Maid Corporation shortly after the Hi-C brand was purchased. George Roberts, assistant sales manager for Niles Foster when Hi-C was introduced, stayed on, first as National Sales Manager for Hi-C, then later as Director of Contract Packer Operations for the Houston, Texas, based Coca-Cola Foods Division, ensuring the successful marketing, promotion, and distribution of Hi-C. The Hi-C business continued to expand with new flavors (orange-pineapple, pineapple-grapefruit, Florida Punch, peach) and innovative marketing techniques. By 1958, Hi-C fruit drinks had become an American supermarket staple, available in every grocery store nationwide.
Hi-C contains 10% fruit juice.
The Orange Lavaburst flavor contains the following: Water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), potassium benzoate, modified food starch, natural flavors
There are currently three product lines of Hi-C - the drink box, Hi-C Blast, and Hi-C Sour Blast. There are other flavors at Coca-Cola Freestyle. There were no official drink bottles or bottled containers of this product.
The Hi-C products used to be the color implied by their flavor, but in 2002, Hi-C was re-introduced as a yellowish clear beverage that would not stain clothing. Thus, flavors like Shoutin' Orange Tangergreen lost their distinctive colors. The soda fountain versions of Fruit Punch and Pink Lemonade, however, still retain their red and pink colors, respectively.
Subsequent growth of the Hi-C product line included globalization to selected markets worldwide.
- Flashin' Fruit Punch
- Grabbin' Grape
- Orange Lavaburst
- Poppin' Pink Lemonade
- Strawberry Kiwi Kraze
- Torrential Tropical Punch
- Blazin' Blueberry
- Wild Cherry
- Candy apple cooler
- Double Fruit Cooler
- Boppin' Strawberry
- Smashin' Wild Berry
Berry Blue Blue Watermelon
Fruit Punch Orange Orange Supernova Raspberry Kiwi
Strawberry Kiwi Wild Berry
Hi-C Sour Blast
- Green Apple
Ecto-Cooler was a product tie-in with the cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters, based on the 1984 live-action film, Ghostbusters. Hi-C struck a deal in 1987 to promote the series by developing a drink. Expected to last only as long as the series, the drink was successful beyond expectations and continued after the series' 1991 cancellation to be produced for more than a decade. The Ecto-Cooler box featured The Real Ghostbusters character Slimer, as did the commercials. Slimer left the box sometime around 1997, but Minute Maid did not discontinue the product until 2001, at which point it was renamed Shoutin' Orange Tangergreen. Slimer was replaced on the packaging by a similar-looking blob of lips. The product was still noted as ecto cool on many store receipts. In 2006, Shoutin' Orange Tangergreen was renamed Crazy Citrus Cooler. In 2007, Crazy Citrus Cooler was discontinued. In 2011, the fan group "Ghostbusters Chicago Division" created a recipe that was said to taste exactly like the original.
- paraphrased from Foodline Volume 16/Number 5/1983, The Coca-Cola Company Foods Division, page 8, interview with George Roberts
- Retro Junk article
- X-Tainment: The Ecto Cooler Bible
- Ecto Cooler recipe