Lee's Summit, Mo. — The well-known Snapple beverage bottle is now plastic, and it still has the metal cap that makes the distinctive “pop” sound when you open it.
A metal cap on a PET bottle is big deal, Snapple officials said. “As far as we know, it's the first metal cap on a plastic ... hot-fill bottle,” said Patrick George, senior director of packaging engineering for Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
The PET bottles for single-serve teas and juice drinks were designed in a collaborative effort between Dr. Pepper Snapple and R&D/Leverage.
Lee's Summit-based R&D, a bottle design house and mold maker, had worked with the beverage maker before, to help design a new 20-ounce bottle to replace the longtime “Splash” bottle for 7UP, Sunkist soda, Canada Dry ginger ale and 18 other soda flavors from Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
For Snapple, the PET bottle had to maintain the look and feel of the glass container. “We decided that success would mean that when the bottles were put side-by-side, we couldn't tell the difference between the glass and plastic,” George said.
But making the “snap” sound when the bottle gets opened was a challenge. Hot-filling a PET bottle pulls a vacuum and causes a PET bottle to shrink. The goal was to pull the vacuum on the top without any distortion in the bottle. Also, the PET bottle had to work with existing filling equipment.
The iconic sound was the critical component of the project.
The manufacturing process was developed at R&D/Leverage, under the company's bottle development program.
“Snapple worked really hard on their brand and the iconic look they've had over the years in the glass bottle,” said Duncan Hardy, director of sales at R&D/Leverage. “Being able to accomplish that same look in plastic and maintain the attributes of the iconic shape and the snap feature was a technical struggle, but we achieved what Snapple required, including making the metal cap work.”