Sunday, January 23, 2022

Do you have any Sanka?

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

We were watching the comedian Sebastian Maniscalco last night on Netflix. He was talking about having "company" come over. In the comedy bit, he talked about how every household would have "Sanka" in the pantry, waiting for company, and waiting for the company to ask: "Do you have any Sanka?"  

YES! Why yes, OF COURSE we have Sanka! 

There are two kinds of people in the world today. Those who will say "Oh, yeah... Sanka!" And those who will say "What the heck is Sanka?" 

Decaffeinated coffee was developed in 1903. The brand name Sanka was derived from the French words sans caffeine (without caffeine) and the brand came to the United States and first marketed in the U.S. in 1923. Sanka was initially sold at two Sanka Coffee Houses in New York, but Sanka was soon brought into retail. 

Intense American advertising started in 1927 with radio broadcasts of Sanka After-Dinner Hour. Sanka was a sponsor of I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone and The Andy Griffith Show. James Bond drank Sanka in Live and Let Die. Sanka was mentioned in an episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry, Elaine and George all order Sanka from different cafes. Tony Soprano drank Sanka. And now, in the Netflix series Cobra Kai season 2 episode 1, Johnny says "...and bring me a cup of Sanka, red hot...just like you, doll face." 

I checked, and you can still buy Sanka on Amazon. And Walmart. I bet they have Sanka at our local stores, as well. I'll check. In the 1970s there were 300+ brands of coffee sold in the America, and Sanka was number three out of three hundred. 

Where are you going with this, Tom?

How does a product go from a major brand, something that is on every radio station, every popular TV show, a product that is #3 in its market, to something that a comedian puts in their comedy bit?

"Do you have any Sanka?" from Sebastian Maniscalco makes the crowd howl with laughter. It seems that Sanka was in EVERY RESPECTABLE HOUSEHOLD in America just a few years ago. Today, not so much. Today, Sanka is a punchline. Even asking for Sanka is the setup for a joke in today's media. 

Today, there is no Sanka in our house. I have no memory of Sanka EVER being in our house - but Sanka WAS in our house when I was growing up. When I was a kid growing up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey we were the "We've got company!" family in the Maniscalco comedy bit. 

2022: Sanka was renamed Maxwell House Sanka and sold as a part of the larger, more popular line of Maxwell House coffees that include Colombian, French Roast and Cappuccino products. The original formula for Sanka was NOT changed. 

Here is the point of today's Sunday blog: How does a BRAND go from being the #3 coffee out of 300+ in the country, to being the butt of a joke?  There are hundreds of Sanka Jokes on the Internet: What kind of coffee did they serve on the Titanic? Sanka

To all of my CMO friends out there - what happened to Sanka? I say The Sanka Chronicles should be a Harvard School of Business Marketing Case Study. 

"Sanka Decaffeinated Instant Coffee delivers superb flavor without the caffeine. This decaffeinated coffee is 99.7% caffeine free, so you can relax and rest easy. Add one teaspoon of Sanka decaffeinated instant coffee to 6 fluid ounces of boiling water and stir. Sanka!" ~ Thomas Capone, CEO

Cool. Now I'm a product spokesman for Sanka, just like James Bond and Tony Soprano. 

But this morning, I'll have "a Nespresso" thanks to brand spokesman George Clooney. Alas, there is (still) no Sanka in our house. And we all know, it's not coffee........ it's NESPRESSO. 

Sanka Commercial 1970s - The 3rd Largest Coffee in America!

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