AriZona 20 Years: Arnold Palmer

MIGUEL ENAMORADO: How did ice tea mixed with lemonade become the “Arnold Palmer?”

ARNOLD PALMER: I was mixing iced tea and lemonade in my kitchen since as long as I can remember.  It wasn’t until some time in the early 1960’s that it became associated with me publicly.  I was playing golf in Palm Springs and after a round I asked the waitress in a restaurant to bring me a glass of iced tea and lemonade.  A lady sitting nearby heard me and asked the waitress to bring her a “Palmer,” too.  The name caught on and the beverage quickly spread around the country.

ENAMORADO: You have a pilot license! When did you learn to fly? What do you enjoy the most about flying a plane? Is it hard to be a passenger?

PALMER: I started flying because I had a fear of it early on. I figured if I learned to fly, I would understand better what was happening and started taking lessons in the late 1950’s, once I had made some money on tour. Without a doubt, I would not have been able to accomplish a lot of what I did professionally had I not learned to fly myself and owned an airplane. For example, I was able to fly to an exhibition for the day and be back home in time for dinner. I never would have been able to do that flying commercially.

I quit flying myself last year and that was difficult for me because I enjoy it as much as playing golf. It was an adjustment sitting in the back of the plane, rather than at the controls, but I’ve grown accustomed to it and enjoy reading a book, doing some work or challenging my wife to a game of dominos.

ENAMORADO: When did you decide to make golf your profession?

PALMER: I won the US Amateur in 1954, after amassing a fairly successful amateur record throughout high school and college.  It was once I won that tournament, [that] I realized I had what it took to pursue the game professionally. I turned pro in November of 1954 and won my first tournament in 1955.

ENAMORADO: What is the biggest change between professional golfing now, and when you first started?

PALMER: Without a doubt, the money has been the most dramatic change. When I started playing, the winner’s share was usually around $1,500.  Compare that to the total purses today that mostly exceed $6 million. Back then, you had to make cuts and finish high consistently in order the make any real money.  Today, players as low as 100 on the money list are making a very comfortable living.

ENAMORADO: Your grandson is also a professional golfer, did you teach him? How old was he?

PALMER: My grandson Sam Saunders has been playing golf since he could hold a club and I spent a lot of time with him over the years.  Like my father taught me, I showed him the fundamentals of the game and helped him make adjustments as he and his game matured over the years.  He’s now 24 and playing just about every week on the Tour.

ENAMORADO: Do your children play golf?

PALMER: I have two daughters and neither of them really took up the game. In addition to Sam, I have two other grandchildren, Will and Anna Wears, who are great players. Maybe the knack for golf skipped a generation.

ENAMORADO: In another life, what would be your chosen profession?

PALMER: As I mentioned earlier, I have a real passion for flying.  Had I not become a professional golfer, I think I would have pursued some type of career in aviation.

ENAMORADO: Has the design of the Arnold Palmer can changed over the years?

PALMER: Aside from some minor updates, the can has really remained the same over the years. Most recently, I carded my 20th career hole-in-one, so we needed to have that figure updated. Otherwise, it has remained consistent and very recognizable.

ENAMORADO: Over the years, golf has appealed more and more to a younger audience, do you think that the tremendous popularity of your beverages has helped spark additional curiosity of the sport?

PALMER: I hope that some of the younger fans of the beverage that may not be very familiar with my career will take the time to read the can, learn more about me and perhaps want to take up the game.

ENAMORADO: What is your favorite thing to eat with an AP?

PALMER: I have an Arnold Palmer most days with my lunch.  It goes well with everything from a cheeseburger, to a liverwurst sandwich, to a cup of soup. 

ENAMORADO: Have you ever had a Cherry Lime Rickey? What was your first memory and how popular was the drink?

PALMER: I can’t say that I’ve ever had a Cherry Lime Rickey, but I’m looking forward to trying it.

ENAMORADO: Why did you choose this particular can as your favorite? Tell us about its color, images, texture, techniques?

PALMER: I thought all the designs were very creative and well done. It was a difficult decision, but I think I kept going back to the TinBacic design because it was clean and easy to read. It made note of AriZona’s 20th Anniversary, which was the reason behind the contest in the first place. Also, the New York skyline spoke to the heritage of the brand, which was important.

ENAMORADO: How did this can respond to your interpretation of the AriZona brand?

PALMER: The design was colorful. It was neatly done but still fun. I think it will fit in nicely with the other can designs in Arizona’s product line-up.

ENAMORADO: How did you come to partner with AriZona?

PALMER: I was working with another company who was focusing their initial efforts on distribution of the beverage through the dairy cases with a fresh, ready-to-drink product. The concept caught the eye of AriZona and after some conversations, we extended our licensing agreement to allow them to manufacture, market and sell the Arnold Palmer beverage. That was 10 years ago and the drink continues to grow in popularity.

ENAMORADO: Why did the partnership make sense for you?

PALMER: AriZona is a leader in the industry. They have grown to become the number one manufacturer of iced tea beverages in the country because their products are great tasting and priced competitively. I knew they would do a great job for us.

ENAMORADO: What’s the first AriZona drink that you ever tried? When and where was it?

PALMER: I can’t recall exactly, but I think it was the Iced Tea with Lemon that I tried initially. I’ve sampled several other flavors over the years and have always enjoyed them.

For more from AriZona’s design panel, click here.