When it’s a crisp fall day, the sun is shining, and there’s just a little hint of a chill in the air, there’s nothing quite like a nice apple cider, is there? The same can be said for a nice, cold glass of sweet apple juice on a warm spring day. Really, apple juice or apple cider is one of the best beverages out there, and, for a lot of people, it’s downright nostalgic. A glass of the stuff reminds them of their childhood, whether it’s an after-school snack or an autumn treat. And as any apple juice or apple cider fan knows, there is one brand that reigns supreme. You probably already know what we’re talking about: Martinelli’s.
Martinelli’s is often considered to be amongst the royalty of apple juice brands and for good reason. Anyone who has tasted their line of apple drinks knows that Martinelli’s apple juice, cider, and sparkling cider just tastes much better than practically any other brand out there. There’s a distinct flavor to Martinelli’s apple products that truly make them stand out. More than that, the company itself is pretty interesting and has a long history that goes back centuries — yes, centuries — and whose activities have spanned the globe. Yes, the untold truth of Martinelli’s is that the brand is every bit as charming and cool as you would assume, and then some.
Apple juice wasn’t their original product
Martinelli’s was founded in 1868 by brothers Stephano and Luigi Martinelli and was originally named S. Martinelli & Company (via Martinelli’s). Before starting their company, the two brothers had moved from Switzerland to California in the 1850s, where they discovered they could farm a lot of delicious produce, including some truly tasty apples. But even though the company is now famous for its apple juice and apple cider products, that actually wasn’t what the brothers first created together.
Specifically, in 1861, Stephano and Luigi first started to sell soda water out of a lean-to addition to Luigi’s barn. They also changed up their names to better fit with the prevailing American culture of the time, going from Stephano and Luigi to Stephen and Louis. By 1865, Stephen had started to make and sell ginger ale and even patented an Orange Champagne beverage that he marketed as a "delicious temperance drink," according to Martinelli’s website. It was only after this development that Stephen and the company started to focus on fermented alcoholic cider, which would become one of Martinelli’s signature products for many years. So, even though Martinelli’s is now known for their non-alcoholic apple juice products, that wasn’t always the case. Indeed, it took them a bit of time to really find what their specialty should be.
Martinelli’s is a family business
Even though Martinelli’s started in the United States, brothers Stephano and Luigi Martinelli immigrated from Switzerland to try and make a more independent and lucrative life for themselves. After changing their names to Stephen and Louis in order to sound more American, they quickly started their company together and worked on apple juice, cider, and more as a family business.
But it wasn’t just the two brothers who got to work. In fact, Stephen’s wife, a Scottish immigrant named Jane Leask, began her most intensive involvement with the Martinelli’s name after some family tragedies and upsets, including her husband’s sudden death in 1917. That same year, their son, also named Stephen, was stationed far away at a World War I military base in Georgia by 1918 (via Martinelli’s).
So, as Martinelli’s tells it, Jane was left much on her own to help manage the Martinelli’s company. In fact, as Prohibition was about to begin and the business’s hard cider line was clearly in jeopardy, Jane and her youngest son were forced to develop a new, non-alcoholic product. They succeeded, creating an unfermented version of the cider that was free from booze. Jane and other members of her family successfully marketed the new product to grocery stores, cementing their status as a juice brand and ensuring the future of their small company.
It didn’t take long for Martinelli’s to find success
After Stephen and Louis Martinelli officially started their company in 1868, it really didn’t take long for the business to take off and find plenty of success. In fact, it was less than 20 years later, in 1885, that Martinelli’s was producing so much of their fermented hard apple cider they had to move locations to better accommodate increased production demands. In fact, they were making a pretty staggering 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of hard cider per year, which was especially impressive for the time.
But that’s not all. Five years later, in 1890, their original recipe for Martinelli’s hard cider was awarded the first gold medal of excellence at California’s State Fair. Because this was Martinelli’s first gold medal (they would eventually win 50 over the years), the company trademarked the slogan "Martinelli’s Gold Medal" — and rightfully so. This means that the next time you buy some apple juice or cider and see the gold medal on it, you can rest assured the Martinelli’s earned that accolade years ago and has since defended its title multiple times.
The apple juice is made from several kinds of apples
If you were to buy a bottle of Martinelli’s apple juice from the store, you might be pleasantly surprised to see that the ingredients listed are pretty simple, if somewhat vague. Additionally, the Martinelli’s recipe hasn’t changed in 150 years. As their website claims, the standard bottle of Martinelli’s juice contains "pasteurized 100% apple juice from U.S. grown fresh apples." But what about the particulars? As it turns out, the juice is made from a blend of quite a few different kinds of apples, which can help explain the rich, full-bodied flavor that is so distinct to Martinelli’s.
In their apple juice products, Martinelli’s will use varietals like the Pippin, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious apples, among others, to achieve that perfect apple taste (via Martinelli’s). When you look at it that way, it seems like there really couldn’t be anything healthier than Martinelli’s apple juice. After all, it’s literally just apple juice, right?
However, because of all the apples in the juice, Martinelli’s products admittedly do have a pretty high sugar content. According to Eat This, Not That!, Martinelli’s Gold Medal Organic Apple Juice has 39 grams of sugar in a 10-ounce serving, making it one of the most sugar-filled juices on the market. Yes, it’s true that the sugar all comes from the natural sweetness of the apples themselves, but perhaps it’s best to make a glass of the stuff a sometimes treat rather than a regular beverage.
The famous bottle shape has an interesting history
Though the distinct taste and reliability of Martinelli’s apple juice products are certainly part of what makes the company so successful and are part of what sends people running back for more, there’s one more element that people love about Martinelli’s. Yes, as you have probably guessed, it’s that distinctive apple-shaped bottle that their juice often comes in. That bottle makes buying apple juice from Martinelli’s a fun and unique experience, for sure, and it’s a cute addition to your fridge, too. And as it turns out, the apple-shaped bottle design actually has a pretty long and interesting history.
In 1933, says Martinelli’s, Stephen G. Martinelli, Jr., son of the company’s founder, came up with the famous tagline for the apple juice products, "drink your apple a day," as a clever play on the commonly heard "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" saying. Along with this new tagline, Martinelli also launched the apple-shaped bottle which was trademarked and named the "Golden Apple" bottle. In order to help customers adapt to the new bottle shape, Martinelli’s even handed out informational pamphlets about how they could use the empty bottle as a table lamp.
Martinelli’s apple cider is the same as their apple juice
If you’ve ever had both apple juice and apple cider and noticed the two were so similar you wondered what the difference even was, you aren’t alone. So many people have wondered what the difference is that Martinelli’s felt compelled to answer the common question on their website. According to them, there’s really no difference at all. "The only difference is the label," they wrote. "Both are 100% juice from U.S.-grown fresh apples. We continue to offer the cider label since some consumers simply prefer the traditional name for apple juice."
However, that’s not always the case, depending on who you ask. Chef Jerry James Stone told MSN that there is in fact a difference between apple juice and apple cider. "When it comes to apple cider, it typically tends to be juice that’s pressed from the apples, but then is not completely unfiltered or even pasteurized," Stone said. "It’s kind of the most raw form of apple juice that you can get."
But for Martinelli’s, there’s no real difference between the two closely related types of apple juice. So if you’re craving apple cider on a fall day, but your store is sold out, some standard Martinelli’s apple juice should do the trick.
Their hard cider is hard to come by
Obviously, when you think of Martinelli’s these days, you probably immediately think of apple juice, apple cider, or their varieties of sparkling apple juice as a non-alcoholic alternative to Champagne. But back in the days before Prohibition, Martinelli’s was known for a different product, one that’s pretty hard to come by now: its hard cider. Yet, though Martinelli’s hard cider is pretty famous, it’s almost impossible to buy nowadays.
Well, almost, but not completely impossible. In 2018, for Martinelli’s 150th anniversary, the company re-released its original product: hard apple cider with decidedly adults-only alcohol content. "We are very excited about the launch of our 1868 Hard Cider," Gun Ruder, President of S. Martinelli & Company told Brew Bound. "It’s a great way for us to celebrate Martinelli’s rich heritage, as most people don’t realize that we were founded as a hard cider company in 1868."
Given the early success of the company, it appears that Martinelli’s take on hard cider was super popular until Prohibition. The company brought it back in 1933 with the end of Prohibition, as Brew Bound reports, but the alcoholic cider wasn’t quite so popular and was officially pulled off shelves in 1978. The temporary 2018 release of Martinelli’s hard cider was super popular, but it seems as though Martinelli’s hasn’t felt the need to bring it back again since then. So, if you want to try it today, well, best of luck in your search.
Sparkling cider was developed because of Prohibition
When you think of the 1920s, chances are good that you probably think of cultural hallmarks like "The Great Gatsby," flapper dresses, and Prohibition. The widespread upheaval of Prohibition, which was effectively a nationwide ban on drinking that determined people simply skirted, was an important time in the history of the United States. In response, Martinelli’s dramatically changed its operations. As AdWeek reported, it wasn’t until Prohibition that Martinelli’s invented their sparkling cider, which would eventually become one of their most beloved products. During Prohibition, Martinelli’s started selling their sparkling cider, which was apparently the first time such a product was sold in widespread fashion throughout the United States.
In fact, with Prohibition looming, the Martinelli family developed their recipe for sparkling apple juice, an unfermented and pasteurized bubbly apple juice they could sell to replace the lost profits from their hard cider. So, if you’re a big fan of Martinelli’s sparkling cider, perhaps you should give a begrudging hat tip to Prohibition after all.
Dean Martin was reportedly a fan of Martinelli’s
One of the biggest American singers to come from the 1950s era was surely Dean Martin, who was known for being charming, cool, and possessed of a compelling stage persona. While many associate Martin with midcentury vices like smoking and drinking plenty of adult beverages, it turns out that the singer was quite possibly a bigger fan of Martinelli’s than any kind of alcoholic spirits.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Martin’s daughter revealed that everyone thought her dad was drinking a cocktail or whiskey on stage when the reality is that he was really sipping something else. " Dad was so handsome, so debonair. They just thought, ‘We’ll put a drink in his hand and a cigarette,’ " she said. But, it was actually apple juice he was drinking on stage. According to Martinelli’s, they’re pretty certain it was their brand of apple juice he was drinking. That would make a lot of sense, given the time period and Martinelli’s popularity by that era. It’s pretty cool to think of Martin sipping on Martinelli’s while on stage while maintaining his trademark cool, that’s for sure.
Martinelli’s has a surprisingly large fan base
If you’re a fan of Martinelli’s, you probably already know that the juice brand is pretty popular amongst all sorts of folks. But you might not know just how popular the company is, even among some A-list celebrities whose enjoyment of the brand may surprise you.
As PopSugar reported, not only does Martinelli’s have a ton of everyday American fans, but even celebrities can’t get enough of the refreshing drink. Movie star Michael B. Jordan took to his Instagram stories to share his love of the brand with a rather endearing message. "If any of y’all know me you KNOW how much I drink the stuff," Jordan wrote on a video of him unboxing a pretty large box of Martinelli’s apple juice in those classic apple-shaped glass bottles.
Clearly, the brand is beloved by quite a few people from all walks of life. To that end, Twitter is full of users proclaiming their love for the company. "I bought an entire pack of Martinelli’s apple juices and I drank them all in 3 days," one user wrote. "There is just something about drinking Martinelli’s apple juice that makes you feel high class," another added. Yeah, Martinelli’s is pretty popular, that’s for sure.
Martinelli’s inspired a hilarious TikTok trend
If you’ve ever been on the social media platform TikTok, then you know it’s full of unusual challenges for users to try out for themselves, broadcasting the results to the world. Everything from hilarious dances, pranks, and acrobatic attempts have been seen on the app, but one challenge involving Martinelli’s apple juice took over, and it might surprise you. Specifically, TikTok users started to notice that biting into a plastic bottle of Martinelli’s apple juice sounds just like biting into a real apple (via Fox News). Thousands of users tried the challenge themselves, including celebrities.
But even though Martinelli’s itself even admits that their apple-shaped bottle does make a satisfying crunch when you buy into it, they also maintained that it wasn’t meant to do that. "Martinelli’s does not condone biting into plastic and wants consumers to know that the juice inside tastes a lot better than the bottle; it tastes like you’re drinking a real apple," they stated on their website. Yeah, biting into plastic is probably not a great idea, no matter how intriguing you might find it. Anyway, Martinelli’s is right that their juice is far more delightful than its container.