Canada Dry Bottles - © Walmart

Canada Dry: A Titan Is Fallen?

Canada Dry, the iconic Ginger Ale brand that actually started in Canada and took the world by a storm of amber bubbles, has been laid low – image wise – after the company that owns it decided to buckle under the threat of a court case and settle with members of a class action suit over its recipe.

In this later Jack’s Ginger Farm commercial, the field workers not only
pull a Ginger plant with a Canada Dry bottle ‘root’ from the soil,
but a whole vending machine. Way too big and too far out.

Actually, the Keurig Dr. Pepper company has been facing false advertising lawsuits in a number of U.S. states for months, now.

For the past couple of years, Canada Dry has claimed, proudly, that it’s ‘made with real Ginger’. Unhappy plaintiffs filed a suit claiming that the beverage – whatever its recipe may have been originally – now contains only a minute amount of real Ginger. In fact, according to one statement of claim, Canada Dry is composed of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, preservatives and natural flavours, which include only, “a minuscule amount of a Ginger flavour extract.” How minuscule? Only Two parts per million. Just a kiss and a promise so the company could say, “Yah, we still use real Ginger.”

But, in electing to make an out-of-court settlement in the case, Keurig Dr. Pepper has signaled that not even they believe their assertion would stand up under litiginous scrutiny.

How the mighty are fallen

Canada Dry was born around 1890 in Toronto, when Carbonated Water manufacturer John J. McLaughlin began selling Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale, and the stuff was popular across Canada by 1904. The brand expanded its reach to the U.S. Northeast during the early decades of the 20th Century and was a popular ‘mixer’ for home brewed and bootlegged booze during Prohibition. Thus was born the classic ‘Rye and Ginger’ cocktail. By that time, Canada Dry was being enjoyed worldwide.

The crux of the matter…

Canada Dry was purposely marketed as a ‘healthier’ soft drink starting a couple of years ago. That was when the company added the ‘Made From Real Ginger’ slogan to it’s packaging and began heavily advertising the brand as such. Who hasn’t seen those surreal commercials about pretty girls at parties grabbing a Canada Dry from a fridge or a chest full of ice and being pulled magically through the ground to ‘Jack’s Ginger Farm’?

So, you can’t blame Julie Fletcher of Bolivar, N.Y. for being upset. She claimed, in her original suit, to have used flat Canada Dry as a tonic for her kids when they were under the weather, believing it was, “[a] healthier alternative to regular sodas.”

It appears the ad campaign worked well. Internal company documents from Keurig Dr. Pepper showed that sales of Canada Dry increased nearly 30 percent as a result.

My take…

Maybe, if Keurig Dr. Pepper hadn’t gone so big and so far out promoting its Ginger claim, it wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today. You might say the whole thing has turned into a case of ‘long term pain for short term gain’. Of course, the future of Canada Dry remains to be seen. I wonder how many former Canada Dry fans will now turn away from the brand in indignation, feeling deceived and cheated as the class action suits claim.

Let this be a warning to other makers of food and beverage products who dare to claim their brands are ‘healthier alternatives’…

~ Maggie J.