ALBANY, NY—Employees at Royal Crown Cola are jubilant in the wake of the 10th product sale in the company's 68-year history.
"This is a historic day for RC Cola," Royal Crown CEO Tad Lipscomb said. "Our tenacity and dedication to providing a top-rate cola beverage have finally paid off. The double-digit barrier was a difficult hurdle that we have been approaching for decades, but now the sky is the limit."
The milestone sale took place Monday afternoon, when Ames, IA, resident Stephen Dutchins, 81, purchased a two-liter bottle of the wildly unpopular cola at a local Food Lion grocery store. "They put the Coke and Pepsi on the top shelf, and I couldn't reach them," Dutchins told reporters. "I decided my thirst was significant enough to justify buying an unknown brand."
Added Dutchins: "My wife died several years ago."
"We are proud that Mr. Dutchins chose to switch to crisp, refreshing RC Cola," said Lipscomb. "And we anticipate a long, productive relationship with our newest family member."
For pushing the cola manufacturer over the nine mark, Dutchins was awarded a case of RC, bringing the company's number of consumed servings to 34. Technically, however, the actual number is closer to 14. "The free case would have brought us up to 34 servings, but Mr. Dutchins opted to throw away 20 of the cans when he learned that a new Pepsi machine had recently been installed in his apartment complex's laundry room," RC's Kent O'Shaughnessey said. "But we're still very excited about the four cans he did consume and enjoy before realizing that."
Asked about the phenomenal sales of competing brands of cola such as Coke and Pepsi, O'Shaughnessey said, "I try not to think about the competition. I mean, they're doing their thing—you know, cornering a majority of the soft-drink market while making billions of dollars and enjoying tremendous name recognition throughout the world—and we're doing ours."
Wall Street rallied in the wake of the purchase, driving up Royal Crown stock an eighth of a point to finish with a quarterly high of 1/8 point.
The gain delighted RC Cola workers involved in the company's corporate profit-sharing plan, who stand to rake in as much as 11 cents. "I've been working here at RC for nine years now," said line supervisor Jim Keeghan. "And I've got to tell you, this sale is even sweeter than the other one."
Lipscomb was equally excited by the Iowa purchase. "Adding this sale to one in Buffalo in '93, we are clearly gathering momentum in our drive to shoot ahead of Safeway Budget Cola by the year 2000."
Asked for an accounting of all 10 RC purchases, Lipscomb said, "Well, I don't exactly have them all memorized. How could we possibly produce a precise tally, anyway? The important thing is that we've sold about 10 RC products. Most definitely almost 10. Shooting distance, certainly."
RC Cola, the last of the major players in the famed "cola wars" to break the 10 barrier, is best known to most consumers as the creator of such memorable television advertising jingles as the mid-'70s' "Me and My RC" and the early-'80s' "Cola-Lovin' Woman, Cola-Lovin' Man," in addition to the late-'80s slogan, "People go out of their way for the taste of RC." Surprising to most, however, is the little-known fact that the company also manufactures physical bottles filled with actual cola.
"We like making cola—we're good at it, and we think the nine million bottles that have piled up in our factory over the years shows it," RC Cola marketing director Toby Hallock said. "But once in a while it feels kind of nice to actually sell one."