Sunday Funnies Cola

By | Monday, June 07, 2021 Leave a Comment
Several years back, I talked about a cereal produced by Ralston called Morning Funnies. It lasted all of about a year because 1) you could read all of the funnies on the box on the first day and you were stuck with the same comics for the next several weeks until you finished the box, and 2) it didn't taste all that great to begin with. It turns out that Ralston could have learned that lesson much more cheaply if they'd looked back a couple decades to the Flavors Valley Corporation, who produced a short-lived series of Sunday Funnies Colas.

I only just heard of these myself over the weekend, but as near as I can tell, it was almost literally the exact same idea but with soda instead of cereal. In 1969, Flavors Valley came out with this line of canned soda in a variety of fairly standard flavors featuring a King Features comic strip character on the front and a comic strip about them on the back. The photos I've found suggest there were five flavors (cola, orange, grape, root beer and "red pop") and four comic strips represented (Popeye, Hagar the Horrible, Beetle Bailey, and Blondie). I've found as many as seven different individual Hagar strips represented and six Blondie ones. However, many of the sites displaying examples show clearly different cans using the same strips, so I suspect there might only be seven strips used for each title. While most feature stand-alone gags, the Popeye strips seem to be sequential and part of a broader story. There doesn't seem to be any correlation between the flavors and the comics, so presumably there are 140 variations. (Five flavors times four comics times seven individual strips.)

There seems to be frightfully little information online -- I've basically told you everything I could find already, and most of that I had to find by just studying the various photos of the cans that came up. Since every one seems to be dated 1969, I suspect these only remained in circulation for about a year, but I don't know if that's because the sodas themselves didn't sell or the company folded or what. I can't seem to find any additional information on "Flavors Valley Corporation" so I don't even know if they produced more than this one product. But I still find it fascinating that it's almost the exact same idea that Ralston tried two decades later with pretty much exactly the same level of success.

So, for any potential venture capitalists reading this: don't try to hang your food product sales on delivering King Features comic strips on your packaging.
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