Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge

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Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge soda is a zero-calorie, aspartame-sweetened carbonated soft drink canned and distributed by the A.J. Canfield Company of Elgin, Illinois, USA, a division of Select Beverages.[1][2][3] Production for the midwestern United States is handled by the American Bottling Company, a subsidiary of Keurig Dr Pepper and distribution by Kehe Foods of Chicago.[4]



The beverage was introduced in 1972 by 32-year-old Alan B. Canfield, senior vice president of Elgin, Illinois-based A.J. Canfield Beverages, a company founded by his grandfather. Canfield was a regular dieter and chocolate lover, and got the idea the year before and brought a two-pound box of fudge to Manny Wesber, the company's chief chemist.[1]

Wesber succeeded in creating a saccharin-sweetened chemically-created concoction, entirely artificially flavored.[1] The drink sold moderately well among Canfield's other brands, with sales remaining steady over the next 13 years.[a]

1984 reintroduction[edit]

Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge by this time sweetened with aspartame.[6] When Chicago Tribune reporter Bob Greene reviewed the product and described it as tasting "like a calorie-free hot fudge sundae," sales went from lukewarm to highly successful in the soft drink market practically overnight.[4] [6][7]

By 1985, regional bottlers across the United States were seeking franchise rights. With these rights in place, more than 200 million cans of Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge soda were sold in 1985.[8] As competition from other makers increased, Canfield's grew increasingly protective of their "Chocolate Fudge" moniker, going so far as to sue rival maker Vess Beverages over their use of the name, "Vess Diet Chocolate Fudge."[9] A federal district court judge ruled in favor of Canfield and issued a preliminary injunction disallowing the use of the word "fudge" on their packaging. Though the injunction was later overturned, the case, known as Canfield v. Honickman, continues to be used as an example during the study of trademark product law.[10][11]

Spinoffs proved less successful. 1987 saw the introduction of "Diet Cherry Chocolate Fudge" and "Diet Peanut Chocolate Fudge," both of which are still sold today in limited numbers.[3]

Sale of brand[edit]

In 1995, the A.J. Canfield Company was sold to Select Beverages for an undisclosed sum.[12][13][14] The company's plant in Elgin, which had been operating since the 1930s, closed the following year.[15] Production of the Diet Chocolate Fudge drinks were moved to another plant.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge had been a stable but unimpressive performer, selling 60,000 cases every year for 13 years straight ..."[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Soda Popster Alan Canfield Strikes Black Gold with a Hot Fudge Diet Drink". People. July 22, 1985. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ Hyatt, Joshua (February 1, 1987). "Too Hot To Handle". Inc. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Hyatt, Joshua (March 1, 1988). "Nuts". Inc. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Haddix, C.; Kraig, B. (2017). The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. Heartland Foodways. University of Illinois Press. p. 532. ISBN 978-0-252-09977-9. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  5. ^ Daft, R.L. (1991). Management. The Dryden press series in management. Dryden Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-03-033092-6. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. p. 22. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  7. ^ Hyatt, Joshua (July 1, 1990). "Hot Product, Cold World". Inc. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Arthur J. Canfield, 84". Chicago Tribune. August 31, 2000. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  9. ^ Claims, United States. Court of; Appeals, District of Columbia. Court of (1986). The Federal Reporter. West Publishing Company. p. 905. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  10. ^ Barrett, M. (2008). Intellectual Property. Emanuel Law Outlines. Aspen Publishers. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-7355-6297-4. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  11. ^ Schechter, R.E. (1993). Unfair Trade Practices and Intellectual Property. Black Letter Outline Series. West Publishing Company. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-314-01949-3. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Canfield Companies To Be Sold To Select Beverages". Chicago Tribune. May 19, 1995. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  13. ^ Franklin, Lu Ann (May 31, 1995). "Canfield's sale affects area plants". NWI Times. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  14. ^ Stewart, Janet Kidd (May 19, 1995). "Canfield's Sold; Terms Undisclosed". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 24, 2017. 
  15. ^ Industrial Refrigeration. Nickerson & Collins Company. 1931. p. 67. Retrieved November 24, 2017.