Jan 2009
Original Link
What would President Barack Obama drink? Honest Tea
BY LAUREN JOHNSTON
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

It looks like President Barack Obama has potential to do for the organic beverage makers Honest Tea what his daughters Sasha and Malia have done for J. Crew: Boost business (or at least buzz) in a big way.

Obama, who favors the Green Dragon Tea and Black Forest Berry flavors, has stocked the White House with the drinks, an Honest Tea rep tells the Daily News. And, he even keeps a stash on the official presidential helicopter.

"We have been contacted by the White House and there is, in fact, Honest Tea in the White House and it's also on Marine One," said a company spokesperson.

Any official United States Marine Corp aircraft with the president aboard is called Marine One. The new president's tea-totaling is nothing new: It became so much a part of his routine that an aide once drove two hours to find the tea in South Carolina, according to the Washington Post.

And Bam fans are clamoring to follow suit: The teas are flying off of the shelves in the D.C. area, where the company is based. "We had a great January," said co-founder and CEO Seth Goldman.

And thanks to Obama's unofficial endorsement, "there's no question that Black Forest Berry was sold out," he said.

But there's not shortage for Barack. Goldman attended the President's address on the economy Wednesday at Obama's invitation where the new commander-in-chief told him he'd just gotten a fresh supply.

Honest Tea was founded 11 years ago by Goldman and partner Barr Nalebuff and is based in Bethesda, Md. The company makes 20 varieties of the health-conscious drink which use no refined sugars.

It seems everyone wants to be like the Obamas - and it's something they'll have to stay conscious of in a way past presidents have not, cultural critics say.

"They are being perceived as celebrities … everyone wants to know what they're wearing and what they are eating. They are fashion trendsetters whether they like it or not," said Elayne Rapping, a University of Buffalo pop culture critic.

The green-leaning new President's support of sustainability and environmentally friendly products won a shout-out recently from Vermont ice cream makers Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who created the special flavor "Yes, Pecan" in his honor.

Goldman is touched by the President's appreciation of his antioxidant-loaded beverages, but says he won't be cashing in on the support with a commemorative drink.

Honest Tea created a limited number of "Barack Forest Berry" drinks for media at the inauguration, but it stops there, he said.

It's "exciting" that the President digs the product, but "we don't want to exploit this relationship, we are very happy for our product to sell on its own merit," Goldman said.