RC Cola

RC Cola (short for Royal Crown Cola[1]) is an American brand of cola invented by Claud A. Hatcher in 1905.[2] It was originally created for Cole-Hampton-Hatcher Grocery Store as a way to avoid the high cost of purchasing Coca-Cola syrup.[3]

Royal Crown Cola
RC Cola logo.svg
ManufacturerKeurig Dr Pepper (US only)
RC Cola International (International)
Country of originUnited States
Introduced1905; 116 years ago (1905)
FlavorCola, Cola Cherry, Cola Lemon,
VariantsRC Cola
Light RC Cola
Diet Rite Cola
Cherry RC
RC Cola Lemon
RC 100
RC Draft Cola
RC Cola Edge
RC Cola Zero
Royal Crown Mixers
RC Cola Kick
Royal Crown Cola Classic (1905 edition)

Royal Crown Ginger Ale was the first product of the RC Cola line, and it referred to the original ingredient: ginger. More ingredients were introduced under the RC Cola name including lemon, strawberry, and cane sugar. In the 1950s, Royal Crown company was leading the beverage industry to sell the first canned soft drinks, followed by the first caffeine-free cola.[4] Despite the company's innovation and mass advertising campaign, total revenue was low due to a lack of initiative in distribution.

RC Cola is currently owned and distributed by Keurig Dr Pepper.[5]


Claud A. Hatcher, the inventor of Royal Crown Cola
US logo

In 1901, the Cole-Hampton-Hatcher Grocery Store was established in Columbus, Georgia. In 1903, the Hatcher family took sole ownership and the name was changed to the Hatcher Grocery Store. The grocery store was located at what was 22 West 10th Street. Today's address (after house number changes) is 15 West 10th Street. At that same time, the popularity of bottled soft drinks rose rapidly, and grocery store owners wished to maximize their profit.[6] As a grocery wholesaler, Claud A. Hatcher purchased a large volume of Coca-Cola syrup from the local company salesman, Columbus Roberts. Hatcher felt that the company deserved a special reduced price for the syrup since it purchased such large volumes. Roberts would not budge on the cost, and a bitter conflict between the two erupted. Hatcher told Roberts he would win the battle by never purchasing any more Coca-Cola, and Hatcher determined to develop his own soft drink formula. He started developing products in the basement of the store with a recipe for ginger ale.[3]

Hatcher launched the Union Bottling Works in his family's grocery store.[7] The first product in the Royal Crown line was Royal Crown Ginger Ale in 1905,[8] followed by Royal Crown Strawberry, and Royal Crown Root Beer. The company was renamed Chero-Cola in 1910, and in 1925 renamed Nehi Corporation after its colored and flavored drinks. In 1934, Chero-Cola was reformulated by Rufus Kamm, a chemist, and re-released as Royal Crown Cola.

In the 1950s, Royal Crown Cola and moon pies were a popular "working man's lunch" in the American South.[9] In 1954, Royal Crown was the first company to sell soft drinks in a can, and later the first company to sell soft drinks in an aluminum can.[4]

In 1958, the company introduced the first diet cola, Diet Rite, and in 1980, a caffeine-free cola, RC 100. In the mid-1990s, RC released Royal Crown Draft Cola, billed as a "premium" cola using pure cane sugar as a sweetener, rather than high fructose corn syrup. Offered only in 12-ounce bottles, sales were disappointing, due largely to the inability of the RC bottling network to get distribution for the product in single-drink channels, and it was discontinued with the exceptions of Australia, New Zealand, and France. It was later available only in New Zealand, parts of Australia, Thailand, and Tajikistan.[10] The company also released Cherry RC, a cherry-flavored version of the RC soft drink, to compete with Cherry Coke and Wild Cherry Pepsi.

In 1984, RC Cola accounted for approximately 4-5% of soft drink sales in the United States, behind only Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and 7 Up.[11]

In October 2000, Royal Crown was acquired by Cadbury (then Cadbury Schweppes) through its acquisition of Snapple. Royal Crown operations were subsequently folded into Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG), which was spun off from Cadbury in 2008. DPSG merged with Keurig Green Mountain in 2018 as Keurig Dr Pepper, the current owners of the RC Cola brand.

In 2001, all non-US RC-branded businesses were sold to Cott Beverages of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and are operated as Royal Crown Cola International, which handles RC Cola products outside the United States.

Brand portfolioEdit

Name Launched Notes Picture
RC Cola 1905 The original RC Cola
Diet Rite Cola/Diet RC Cola 1958 The first diet cola ever (initially released as a dietetic product); released to the general public in 1962[12]
RC Cola Lemon 1974 The lemon RC Cola
RC 100 1980 The first caffeine-free RC Cola
RC 100 Sugar Free 1980 Also caffeine-free
Cherry RC 1985[13] The cherry RC Cola
Kick 1995 A citrus soft drink
RC Draft Cola 1995 A "premium" cola made with cane sugar
RC Cola Edge 1999 A cola with extra caffeine
RC Cola Zero/RC Cola Free 2009 A no-calorie, no-sugar RC Cola. In other countries, it is also known as RC Cola Free. In some countries it is sweetened with Splenda.
RC Kick 2010 RC Cola with guarana
RC Dra-Cola[14] 2012 A sugar-free, red-coloured cola introduced to the British market as a special edition for Halloween 2012; it features a glow-in-the-dark label.
RC Ten[15] 2012 A low-calorie version of the cola made as part of the Dr Pepper/7Up "Ten" line
Diet RC Cola Lemon 2016 A diet cola with lemon flavour
Diet Cherry RC 2016 A diet cola with cherry flavour
Royal Crown Cola Classic / Slim 2018 Rebranded

Advertising campaignsEdit

Chero-Cola advertisement

The RC Cola brand has been marketed through many campaigns. In the 1930s, Alex Osborn, with BBDO, made an ad campaign, including the following slogan: "The season's best."

The 1940s saw a magazine advertising campaign with actress Lizabeth Scott as the face, next to the slogan "RC tastes best, says Lizabeth Scott".

In 1966, Royal Crown Cola collaborated with Jim Henson on an ad campaign for Royal Crown Cola which featured two birds called Sour Bird (performed by Jim Henson) and Nutty Bird (performed by Henson and assisted by Frank Oz) to promote the drinks. Nutty Bird would promote Royal Crown Cola by touting the benefits.[16] The puppet for Nutty Bird was designed by Jim Henson and built by Don Sahlin. Sour Bird appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with the Rock and Roll Monster.

Nancy Sinatra was featured in two Royal Crown Cola commercials in her one-hour TV special, Movin' With Nancy, which featured various singers and David Winters choreography[17] in December 1967. She sang, "It's a mad, mad, mad Cola...RC the one with the mad, mad taste!...RC!"[18] The company was the official sponsor of New York Mets on and off at times from the team's inception in 1962 until the early 1990s. A television commercial in the New York area featured Tom Seaver, New York Mets pitcher, and his wife, Nancy, dancing on top of a dugout at Shea Stadium and singing the tune from the Sinatra campaign. RC sponsored two Porsche 917/10 Can-Am race cars during the 1972-73 season. In the mid-1970s, Royal Crown ran the "Me & My RC" advertisements.[19] Others featured people in scenic outdoor locations. The jingle, sung by Louise Mandrell, went, "Me and my RC / Me and my RC /'Cause what's good enough / For other folks / Ain't good enough for me." RC was introduced to Israel in 1995 with the slogan "RC: Just like in America!" During the Cola Wars of the 1980s, RC used the 'Decide for yourself' campaign and would remind people 'There's more to your life than Coke and Pepsi."

In the Philippines, RC Cola released advertisements with artists popular in the country. In 2009, these had Maja Salvador and Kim Bum as celebrity endorsers.[20] The Philippine marketing of the brand also painted the front of sari-sari stores with slogans like "RC ng (insert municipality/city)" (RC of my [town/city]). In 2019, the advertisements tapped Joshua Garcia to be the year's celebrity endorser and launched the "RC ng Bayan" campaign.

Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti had RC Cola as his primary sponsor during the 2012 and 2013 IndyCar Series.


  1. ^ "Our Brands: RC Cola". Keurig Dr Pepper. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  2. ^ "Our Brands, Bottlers and More". RC Cola International. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "History of Royal Crown Company, Inc". FundingUniverse.com. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Royal Crown Cola Company". New Georgia Encyclopedia. September 15, 2006. Retrieved October 21, 2012 – via georgiaencyclopedia.org.
  5. ^ "Keurig Dr Pepper". keurigdrpepper.com. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  6. ^ Winn, Bill (May 7, 1978). "R.C. Cola Gets Start in Basement". Columbus Ledger - Enquirer. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  7. ^ Allen, Gary J.; Albala, Ken (2007). The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries. ABC-CLIO. p. 432. ISBN 9780313337253. Retrieved February 28, 2018 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Royal Crown Company History". rccolainternational.com. Royal Crown Cola International. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Duke, Jan. "The Souths Fascination with RC Colas and Moonpies". About.com. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  10. ^ "RC Cola Thailand". Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "The Innovative Royal Crown". The New York Times. January 14, 1984.
  12. ^ "Yet Another New Cola From Innovative RC". Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "Coke, Dr Pepper Enter the Pit as Cherry Coke Rolls Out". Adweek. August 5, 1985. Royal Crown Cola recently entered the fray, introducing Cherry RC in the Southwest with plans to roll it out nationally, backed with co-op advertising dollars
  14. ^ "RC Cola UK". Rccola.co.uk. September 7, 2012. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  15. ^ "Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Product Facts". dpsgproductfacts.com. 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  16. ^ "Jim Henson RC Commercial". Retrieved September 15, 2012 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ "David Winters". IMDb.com. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  18. ^ "Nancy Sinatra RC Cola Ad". Retrieved September 15, 2012 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "Me and My RC Commercial". Retrieved September 15, 2012 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ "Kim Bum And Maja Salvador For RC Cola CF". allkpop. Retrieved December 9, 2019.

External linksEdit