In the mid-eighties, Ocean Spray released a Hawaiian themed guava based drink they called Mauna La’i and I was hooked. According to online sources, Mauna La’i roughly translates to “Calm Mountain.” Which makes this beverage name evocative in any language.
This tasty beverage was a staple of my Polynesian dream world whenever I could talk my mother into buying a bottle. The great thing about it? My sisters both hated it. They complained that it tasted like a weak Capri Sun. This meant that from the first glass to the last glass, this beverage was all mine.
I consumed the pleasantly pink drink in our fanciest glasses with copious amounts of ice. This was my attempt to approximate how I thought a tiki bar would serve it. I would even reuse little paper umbrellas that we would get whenever my Mom got a drink at our local Chinese Food restaurant.
I thought it was the height of fanciness.
Eventually I would move on to the more flavorful POG as my “tropical” beverage of choice, but the groundwork for my love for it was laid in this amazing pink beverage from Ocean Spray.
I am not sure how much a bottle cost when it launched, but I did find a supermarket ad for Ocean Spray products from 1988. It not only gives the price but also confirms that you could get Mauna La’i in both the 48 and 64 oz bottles. They would run you $1.60 and $2.20 respectively.
While originally a product of Ocean Spray, the Mauna La’i brand would eventually be sold to Mauna La’i Tropicals in 1997. Despite the sale, Ocean Spray continued to produce the now multi-beverage line until 2000, when it was sold to Mott’s.
I am not sure for how long Mott’s produced the drink, but after checking out stores and websites recently, I came to the sad conclusion that they discontinued the brand. They appear to be focused solely on their core apple brands right now, so doubt we will see an apple-based revival of this heavenly tropical concoction.
Where can you find Mauna La’i Today?
While you cannot find the original drink, I am happy to say the Ocean Spray now makes a drink called, Cran Tropical. It is a combo of cranberry, mango, guava, and orange flavor. When I learned about it, I was pretty excited, and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed. If it isn’t the same recipe, it is close and more importantly, it is delicious.