Snapple got its name from an experience Arnold Greenberg, Leonard Marsh, and Hyman Golden had in the 1980s while developing a new drink. It was a carbonated apple beverage, which they were fermenting in glass bottles in a New York warehouse. Over a hot weekend in the summer all the bottles suddenly began exploding. They snapped and broke, so they came up with the name “Snapple.”
Arnie Greenberg, one of the founders of Snapple, was my best friend’s father. He kindly gave me a job at an extremely difficult time in my life. For many, Snapple is just a drink, but for me, it helped save my life. This is my story:
I was born in the late 50s to a secular Jewish, Long Island family. After graduating from Syracuse University with two degrees, I worked in the shipping department of my father’s steel company in New Jersey. By then, I was already in deep trouble. It all began when I was 12-years old and went to my friends’ Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties. I suddenly had access to alcohol. Drinking seemed like fun, however by the time college was over, I was losing control.
In my early thirties, I sought help at a rehabilitation center where it took me nine full months to reclaim my life. I have been sober now for 14 years, but back then, leaving rehab was a terrifying experience. I was not welcome in the family business because part of my therapy involved learning to survive on my own. It was a very painful and emotional time for me. I was jobless for a year, the economy was terrible, and I was tentative about my sobriety and my place in the world. One night, absolutely distraught and weeping, I gazed heavenward looking for G-d, and said, “Please G-d, please help me and make me a star at something. Find me some place where I can shine.”
Shortly afterward, Arnie offered me a job at Snapple. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
Snapple was becoming very popular and we began to receive lots of mail from happy customers. We were a growing company and employees were busy with their chores. No one wanted to answer the mail, so I started doing it. I would not only write, but also call, and consumers were delighted to know that someone was really reading their mail.
Reaching out to others, and moving the focus away from myself, began to positively redefine my life. The Snapple letter campaign became a crucial key to my recovery. By bringing joy to others, I increased the joy in my own life. I reached a point where I could look in the mirror and like what I saw.
When Snapple hired a marketing director, Jude Hammerle, he saw the value of the letters. He said, “Why not take the person who’s getting all these letters and put her on TV?”
I was plucked from the anonymity of the shipping department, where I was working at the time, and put under the ‘bright lights’ of national television.
The TV spots began with me reading a letter: “Hello from Snapple. Today’s letter is from Linda Fairbanks from wherever. Linda writes, ‘Snapple is the best drink I’ve ever had. I swear! I am not lying.'” Then Linda would come on screen and we would give her a lie detector test. We hooked her up to a real lie detector and found out that she was not lying. The TV commercials featured real life customers who starred in their own scenarios. The response was incredible. At one point I was getting 3000 letters a week! I became somewhat of a household name-a sober and happy star!
I have no doubt that G-d watched over me in my most difficult days. In fact, I suspect I have an entire cheering committee up there! Sometimes, when things get rough, I just look up and say, “What’s happening gang? I need a little more attention down here!”
In these tenuous times when there are almost as many terror alert colors as there are Snapple flavors, people are starting to lose it a little out of fear. Fear does terrible things to people. I pray that we should have no fear! Either I’m the stupidest person in the world or I just have such faith that I believe nothing is going to happen. G-d works in mysterious ways. In the end, things always work out the way they’re supposed to.