See Wendy the Snapple Lady Now, 30 Years Later.
She answered real Snapple fan mail in those famous commercials.
If you were alive during the '90s, you probably remember "the Snapple Lady." Sitting behind a desk that was too tall for her and addressing the camera at eye level, Wendy Kaufman read and answered real Snapple fan mail in the drink company's ads. The TV spots were a major boon for the company and helped put Snapple, which was founded in 1972, on the pop culture map in a big way. Kaufman played the affable mascot in 37 commercials across three years, all while dealing with some personal struggles that fans were surprised to hear about later.
Read on to learn more about how the Snapple Lady came to be and what Kaufman is up to now.
Kaufman wasn't an actor but a real Snapple employee.
Kaufman joined the Snapple team in the early 90s. In a blog post for the website Kosher Spirit, Kaufman explained that Snapple co-founder Arnie Greenberg was one of her father's good friends and so landing a job with the burgeoning drink company was pretty easy.
But Kaufman wasn't hired as a spokesperson just then. She initially worked in shipping and would often sift through the tons of fan letters the brand received, according to Eater.
"Snapple was becoming very popular and we began to receive lots of mail from happy customers," Kaufman wrote on Kosher Spirit. "We were a growing company and employees were busy with their chores. No one wanted to answer the mail, so I started doing it. I would not only write, but also call, and consumers were delighted to know that someone was really reading their mail."
A marketing firm had the idea to make Kaufman the friendly face of the company.
"I wrote one fan letter to Greg Brady—Barry Williams—when I was a kid," Kaufman told Eater of her new passion. "So, when I started to get the mail at Snapple and thought back to writing a fan letter that I never got a reply to, I could sympathize. I cared about people. I was not an actress. I just loved them."
As the same outlet reports, Snapple's marketing firm decided to pitch an ad campaign that was centered on Snapple fans and starred Kaufman.
"Our ad agency's plan was to make it look like Snapple had no ad agency," said Jon Bond, of the agency Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners. "It was way ahead of its time. When we proposed Wendy as the spokesperson… [Snapple] wanted supermodels. We said, 'Look, the average woman in America is a size 12.'"
Kaufman was let go as the Snapple mascot when the company was sold to Quaker Oats, but they hired her back as a "goodwill ambassador" a few years later. She worked for the company until 2008.
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Kaufman credits her Snapple job with helping her stay sober.
In a 2016 interview with Oprah Winfrey for her series Oprah:Where Are They Now, Kaufman shared that she had battled substance and alcohol use disorder prior to becoming the company's mascot. She turned to drugs initially to help her lose weight. After nearly a decade, she sought help.
"I was so sick that it really did bring me to my knees," Kaufman told Winfrey. "I said to God on my knees, hysterical and crying, 'Either kill me or please help me get well. I cannot live like this for one second longer.'"
Soon after becoming sober, Kaufman got the Snapple gig and she credits being the Snapple Lady with helping her maintain her sobriety.
"The Snapple letter campaign became a crucial key to my recovery. By bringing joy to others, I increased the joy in my own life. I reached a point where I could look in the mirror and like what I saw," she wrote in Kosher Spirit.
"Snapple was much more than a job," she continued. "It was a lifeline and it was a way for me to stay sober and it was a vehicle for me to do wonderful nice things for other people."
Today, Kaufman is working on launching her own clothing company.
Though Kaufman wasn't an actor when she took the Snapple gig, her fame did lead her to make appearances in films including Vegas Vacation, Enough Already, and Funny Valentine.
You may also remember seeing her as one of the talking heads in the nostalgic VH1 series, I Love the 90s. While she participated in the weight loss reality show, Celebrity Fit Club, and in 2017, spoke about her issues with food addiction in an episode of the talk show The Doctors, Kaufman, who is 63, writes on her Linkedin page that she is "working on a line of clothing for larger women to exercise and feel comfortable in."
As for her current positions, Kaufman shares in her profile that she is on the board of Little Hill Alina Lodge, an addiction treatment center in New Jersey. She also notes that she is "self-employed" as a "Former Snapple Lady" and lives in New York City.