Sunkist is a brand of primarily orange flavored soft drinks launched in 1979. Sunkist was first licensed by Sunkist Growers to the General Cinema Corporation, the leading independent bottler of Pepsi-Cola products at the time. The soft drink was the idea of Mark Stevens, who foresaw the potential based on market research which indicated that, worldwide, orange was the third best selling soft drink flavor (largely due to The Coca-Cola Company's Fanta brand). After extensive R&D during 1977 and early 1978, in which research was conducted on taste, color and carbonation levels, Sunkist made a grand introduction in New York by franchising it to The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York, where Edward F. O'Reilly was president. At the time of introduction, Sunkist Soft Drinks had only five key employees: Mark Stevens, President]; Peter Murphy, VP Sales; Dr. John Leffingwell, VP R&D; Ray Sissom, VP Finance; and Jim DeDreu, NE Regional Manager.
Contributions by Editor182, Leffingwell, and Zappa93.