Punchy, The Hawaiian Punch Guy
In 1934, three California men worked in a converted garage on a tropical tasting syrup for a line of ice cream toppings. Under the Pacific Citrus Products Company, A.W. Leo, Tom Yates and Ralph Harrison found a popular taste in “Leo’s Hawaiian Punch”. The syrup was sold to restaurants, soda fountains and ice cream manufacturers under the label.
Consumers realized that the syrup mixed with water made for a delicious drink. However, they could not purchase it directly.
In 1946, investors, including Reuben P. Hughes, bought the company and renamed it Pacific Hawaiian Products Co. Soon after Hughes introduced quart-sized bottles of Hawaiian Punch concentrate to be sold in grocery stores. A ready-to-drink 46-ounce can was introduced in 1950. A 6-ounce frozen concentrate can was offered in 1955.
During the ’50s, sales for Hawaiian Punch and related products took Pacific Hawaiian to the middle ranks of US beverage companies. By 1955, Hawaiian Punch became a national brand.
The Hawaiian Punch Guy—“Punchy”—was created in 1961. He was drawn by artist Martin Mandelblatt of ad agency Atherton-Privett.
Punchy’s first television commercial was in 1962. He wore a striped shirt and a hat of grass, and he carried a glass of Hawaiian Punch. Skipping along, he approached an island tourist named Oaf (or, Opie) who wore a flower shirt and a hat. Punchy asked Oaf, “Hey, how about a nice Hawaiian Punch?” Oaf responded with “Sure!” Punchy punched Oaf in the face then skipped away, leaving Oaf knocked out on the ground.
More commercials like this one were made, and Oaf never learned his lesson. He would always get a punch in the face from Punchy, and he would never receive a drink.
The tagline “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch” was copyrighted in 1964.
The Punchy and Oaf characters were used as advertising animation characters through the 1990’s, although sometimes spokespersons such as Donny and Marie Osmond were used.
The ownership of Hawaiian Punch changed several times from its inception in 1934 until the present day. Currently it is a part of the Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. While Punchy, as we got to know him, no longer appears in commercials, he is still the drink’s mascot and appears on product labels. Over the years, many types of Punchy merchandise was created, and many, including watches and key chains, are now sold as collectibles.
Note: While we referenced the official site for Hawaiian Punch for some of this information, please see the comment below regarding the original commercial. We are seeking official documentation on the voices, animators and production team.