July 24, 2020

The makings of the White Claw kingpin

The man who created it built a $4B booze behemoth.
July 24, 2020
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
BeSweet Creations

Your stories of how you’re coping with the pandemic are amazing. Here’s one from Sasa Schwartz of Austin, Texas:

“Every week we have a virtual game night with my siblings. We almost always play Drawful, an online game where you draw on your phone based on prompts… but our version has a special rule where you have to start every drawing with a penis, and then somehow turn it into your prompt. I’ve never laughed so hard.”

Got a funny or touching tale of your own? Fill out the form at the bottom of this email.

The Big Idea

The flavored-alcohol empire behind White Claw

I’m a staunch beer skeptic, so last summer felt like a miracle. All of a sudden, half of my friends swapped out Modelos for a new — and less disgusting — brew: White Claw.

So did the rest of the country. By May 2019, sales were up 320%. White Claw Summer was on.

But as one Twitter thread reminded us, the hard seltzer brand didn’t just tumble down from the heavens — it’s been bubbling up for 50 years.

The makings of a fruit-beer kingpin

In the early 1970s, Anthony von Mandl started selling imported wines out of his car

A decade later, he was so sick of bland ciders that he launched the sweet-tasting Okanagan Cider — “the first company in the world to produce flavored ciders,” he said later.

Von Mandl’s grand theory?

The alcohol biz was stuck in the past. If you wanted to host a picnic, what would you serve? Wine and beer, blech.

But von Mandl guessed that 25% of beer buyers didn’t actually like drinking it. 

So in 1996, he rolled out Mike’s Hard Lemonade. When it hit the US in 1999, it sold 2m cases in its first year.

Get hammered, but make it classy

He called this new category of flavored spirits “progressive adult beverages.” As far back as 2006, he thought it was going to pop off. 

That’s why von Mandl started tinkering with White Claw nearly 2 decades later — this time, to reach people that didn’t want many calories with their buzz. 

Now von Mandl is worth $4B. And light, fruity beers are so popular that we have to deal with the monstrosity known as Natty Light’s strawberry-lemonade Naturdays.

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The sit gets real

Could sitting on the floor be better than parkin’ it in an office chair?

Sit’s about to get real.

We’ve been working from home for way too long now… and our asses are feelin’ it. Turns out the best chair might be no chair at all

Color us floored

Science says criss-cross applesauce — or as yogis call it, sukhasana — can help stretch hip and leg muscles and correct natural spine curvature. 

So there’s one good reason to bust out the Dyson and deep clean the carpet.

Sure, your old chair was comfortable… 

… but who wants to bring home something that looks fit for an office drone

They say sitting is the new smoking, especially in the wrong kind of chair. Too much sitting ups your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other ills. 

If you’ve got a swanky home office set-up, we’d love to have a peek. Hit reply and send us your pics — we’ll show off the best ones next week.

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Snippets

5 stories to catch you up quick

1️⃣  Heck of a story to drop before Bezos’ date with Congress next week: The Wall Street Journal says Amazon used its VC fund to learn from startups — and then build competing products.

2️⃣  Twitter admitted that intruders were able to view DMs from at least 36 accounts during last week’s hack. 

3️⃣  Even without Roku or Amazon, HBO Max still managed to sign up 4.1m subscribers.

4️⃣  Happy little trees, straight to your TV: Plex has added 80 live channels. The service is free, but it doesn’t include cable mainstays like CNN. The eclectic mix includes… the Bob Ross Channel.

5️⃣  Ascena Retail Group, which owns Ann Taylor, Loft, Justice, and Lane Bryant, filed for bankruptcy protection. It used to be the biggest women’s clothing retailer. Now it plans to close many stores permanently. 

And 5 more to delight you 

1️⃣  One New York Times reporter shared — and annotated — all of her Google searches over 4 days. A few favorites: “Jaden Smith Boxed Water” and “Hot Dogs German.” 

2️⃣  Treehouse rentals are “booming” on Airbnb.

3️⃣  Did you hear that? According to new research, the last few months have been the quietest period ever in modern seismology. 

4️⃣  Step aside, drive-ins: Now the world is all about boat-in movie theaters

5️⃣  Now you can eat like an ultra-marathoner

SPONSORED

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Don’t get us wrong, milk is great (but like… is it?). 

But when it comes to things that help you sleep, it falls a little short.

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Unlike bland old hot dairy — whose idea was that again anyways?? —  SugarBear’s gummy vitamins contain a proprietary blend of natural botanicals to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Thanks to proven ingredients such as Melatonin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, L-Theanine, Valerian Root, 5-HTP, Passion Flower, and Lemon Balm Leaf, SugarBear Sleep gummies will help you sleep through the night and wake up feeling refreshed. 

(Bonus points for not needing to take your Lactaid pills.)

Wanna try for yourself? Pick them up for $1/day here:

Snooze better →
Mind Melt

Did you know you can patent the shape of a food?

A warning to our German readers: If you create a square chocolate bar, Ritter Sport is going to bury you. 

We know this because one brave company tried it. Back in 2010, when rival chocolate giant Milka decided to cut its confections into squares, Ritter Sport took them to court. 

This week, after a decade of lawsuits, Ritter Sport won out — fair and very square.

Because cocoa fanatics link the shape with the “quality” of Ritter, the judges ruled, all other brands are barred from those sweet, sweet equilateral bars.

Shape patents come full circle

Ritter Sport says its chocolate squares date as far back as 1932. But they didn’t actually hit shelves until the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The square shape is at the heart of Ritter’s identity — its slogan translates to “quality, chocolate, squared.” In 1993, it secured a patent.

The legal tussle might be over, but it was pretty rich from the get-go. Milka has some surprising patents of its own stashed away — for years, it has laid legal claim to the lilac on its packaging

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A Bug’s Life

What ants can teach us about fighting off pandemics

Humans are the most advanced species in the world, yada yada. But we just got absolutely owned by some ants.

Like us, ants face rough odds in limiting the spread of disease. Some colonies are as crowded as NYC. Yet ant epidemics are rare.

Why? 

The little buggers are surprisingly good at containment, scientists found. The findings suggest social behavior doesn’t necessarily doom species exposed to pandemics.

Some of the ants’ antics sound familiar:

  • Social distancing: It’s not just for humans. Ants limit their interactions, especially with the queen of the colony.
  • Medicine: Tree resin has antimicrobial properties. Some species spread it around their nests. 
  • A+ hygiene: They groom one another frequently, collect waste, and dispose of dead bodies.

Others… not so much:

  • Self-made hand sanitizer: A few ant species secrete their own germ-killers.
  • Cannibalism: Some termites eat their young to eliminate vulnerable populations in outbreaks. 

Probably not something the CDC would recommend.

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The Hustle Says

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a big ol’ comet lighting up our night sky. It’s called Neowise (props on the sweet name), and here’s how to see it before it’s gone

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SUNDAY SNEAK PEEK

The most expensive thing you’ve ever bought in cash

On Tuesday, we asked you to recall the most you’ve ever spent on a single purchase in cash.

We’re happy to report that nobody dropped a fat wad on White Claws…  though one of you did spend $23,425 on 4 bottles of Don Julio 1942 at a club in Vegas.

A few other standouts:

  • Justin, based in Omaha, bought a horse for $3k in cash to impress his then-girlfriend.
  • Chase, from San Diego, shelled out $15k for 10 pounds of weed as a 19-year-old college freshman.
  • Pauly, a booking manager from Dallas, had to pay Erykah Badu (the Queen of neo-soul) $120k up front in cash for a performance.
  • Alise, a life-long New England Patriots fan from Kittery, Maine, paid $7k in cash for tickets to Super Bowl LIII.

We’ll give you the full breakdown (and many more incredible responses) on Sunday morning.

How You’re Getting By

Sasa’s Drawful story probably made you laugh. This one will just make you smile:

“Social distancing has made a walk down the street a bit cold. Now when I’m walking with my new baby in his carrier, I take his little hand and make big waves to strangers. It’s awesome how disarming it is, and we all share a little chuckle and human connection.”

Melissa (Palchak) Opraseuth (and baby Isaac), Boston, Massachusetts

How are you coping with the pandemic? Share your story here. We’ll publish more of your submissions next week.

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Shower Thoughts

Shower Thought / [shou-er thawt] / noun

Definition: The one thing we look forward to all week.

1. Fruit, like people, have bellybuttons where they were plucked

2. Taking a bite from a burger determines where the front of it is

3. When we think of apples we think red, but when we think of apple flavored we think green.

4. Batman wears a utility belt because he doesn’t have pockets. It’s just a fancy fanny pack

5. We rent water. We use it, then return it, it’s cleaned, then sold again.

via Reddit
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