In 1975, Hofstra Law student Gordon Crane was in search of a way to pay his tuition bills. His solution? Found a (now multimillion-dollar) juice business.
In the beginning, Crane partnered with a cider mill in the Hudson Valley to press fresh apples. Unsurprisingly, the company’s first best-selling product was apple juice. Based in Port Washington, Apple & Eve was originally a niche northeast success. By the time Crane earned his unused law degree in 1978, the company had earned its first $1 million in revenue.
“The whole concept of Apple & Eve is all-natural,” Crane told The New York Times.
In 1982, the company became the first to sell 100 percent juice products in brick-pack single-serve boxes, according to Long Island Business News. Today, these are a kid’s lunchbox staple item.
The taste of each juice used to be catered to Crane’s taste buds, except in the case of the children’s line, described as nothing but juice. When deciding on the flavor, Crane preferred a more tart juice but his quality control team insisted kids would prefer a sweeter drink. In 1992, Crane visited his niece Felicia’s third-grade class in Plainview to settle a taste test debate.
The results? Kids liked it sweet. Kids won.
In 1999, Apple & Eve introduced a line of Sesame Street-branded juices which featured Muppets on the packaging. This was the first time that the program’s parent company permitted a food product to use its characters to sell to kids and their families. This collaboration contributed to the juice brand’s steadily growing annual earnings.
In 2014, Crane sold his company to Canada’s Lassonde Industries Inc. for $150 million in cash. Apple & Eve has 14 juice-making plants across the country but is still headquartered in Port Washington. Lassonde, which is based in Quebec, reached out to Apple & Eve in an effort to enter the branded juice business in this country.
Crane, who serves as chief executive officer, and his brother, Executive Vice President Cary Crane remain with the company.
“This isn’t an asset,” Gordon Crane told Long Island Business News. “This is my life… something that I truly love to do.”
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