Soda Popster Alan Canfield Strikes Black Gold with a Hot Fudge Diet Drink
updated 07/22/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/22/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT
In the nine days after Greene's column appeared, Canfield's sold 1.5 million cans—more than its entire 1984 production. With orders coming from as far off as Saudi Arabia and China, the frazzled company (at the time the drink was marketed only in four states) could not keep up with demand. Delivery trucks were waylaid, a bootlegged 35¢ can sold for $6 in New York, and a Sioux City, Iowa newspaper offered one as a contest prize.
Alan Canfield quickly stepped up production. To get fast delivery on necessary ingredients, he persuaded flight attendants to stow containers of ingredients in planes' bulkhead seats. To ship chocolate concentrate to bottlers, he bought first-class tickets for 10-gallon containers. Now he has franchisers in 50 states and sales have increased 5,000 percent. Not surprisingly, at least seven imitators have sprung up.
Canfield dreamed up the idea of the drink 15 years ago. A chronic dieter and chocoholic, he brought a two-pound box of fudge to the company's laboratory. "If we can duplicate this taste the world will beat a path to our door," he insisted. The entirely artificial product was perfected in 1972, but sales languished at five percent of Canfield's line of nine diet sodas.
This year the company expects to sell more than half a billion cans. "It's a pop man's dream," exults Canfield, who may be sorry that lightning never strikes the same place twice.