Can Postum fans revive their beloved beverage?
Consumer campaigns hope to restore the decaf hot drink to store shelves; it's worked before, with other 'orphan' products.
Joanne Ciccarello – staff
When Robert Underwood, a Seattle electrician, ran out of Postum recently he scanned the shelves of his local grocery where he'd been buying his supply for the past 30 years. He couldn't find it. He asked some young clerks for help. They had no idea what he was talking about. So he went to another store. Same story. Frustrated, Mr. Underwood decided to e-mail Kraft. And that's when he found out that Kraft had decided to drop Postum. Just like that.
"Postum has become a regular part of my daily routine, I drink it daily," he wrote on kraftfoods.com, an online consumer forum. "Please let [management] know they have just alienated a lot of customers...."
The century-old instant powdered drink named for its creator, C.W. Post (of Post cereals fame), may not enjoy the brand recognition of drinks like Tang, but when Kraft kicked its caffeine-free hot drink to the curb this winter, Postum's loyal following took the news hard.
Products abandoned by their makers, or "orphan brands," aren't uncommon. Even as companies work hard to establish emotional bonds between consumers and their goods, thousands of items quietly slip away each year if they don't turn a profit. But with the advent of online communication, consumers not quite ready to let go are showing their discontent by writing blogs, selling hoarded supplies at marked-up prices, and sharing recipes and tips. In some cases, if the consumer response is broad enough, a product can earn a second life.
"I feel as if a friend has died," posted George Seeley on one of many Postum online bulletins. "Some think Postum is a coffee substitute – but ironically there is no REAL substitute for Postum."