A tasty soda known as grapette steals the heart of a collector in the town where it was first made.
You might refer to Karl Schanzlin’s collection of Grapette memorabilia as a homegrown effort. As a lifelong resident of Camden, where the popular soft drink was first produced and bottled, Schanzlin has long admired not only the refreshing taste of the drink, which became a household name in the 1940s, but also the colorful advertisements and promotional items that played a big part in the success of the brand.
“I was working at the First National Bank in Camden when I first saw a display of Grapette items from years past in our lobby. I was completely taken with the colors and fascinated by all the different pieces,” recalls Schanzlin. As it turns out he was already in possession of a valuable Grapette collector’s piece – a small wooden drink box, which held bottles for purchase at a mom-and-pop-type store. With this piece as his starting point, Schanzlin began to scour the town in search of banners, notepads, syrup bottles and any other Grapette-labeled merchandise he could find. Today, his collection boasts hundreds of pieces. “I tell my wife it’s an investment,” he laughs. While the soft drink is no longer produced in Camden, the collection is a reminder of its popularity and the vitality it brought to this small, south Arkansas town. As for the beverage, Schanzlin admits to still enjoying the version produced today as much as he enjoyed locally made Grapette when he was a kid.