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1932 advertisement for Sanka.
Sanka is a brand of decaffeinated coffee, sold around the world, and was one of the earliest decaffeinated varieties. Sanka is distributed in the United States by Kraft Foods.


Decaffeinated coffee was developed in 1903 by a team of researchers led by Ludwig Roselius in Bremenmarker, Germanymarker. It was first sold in Germany and many other European countries in 1905–06 under the name "Kaffee HAG". In France the brand name became "Sanka", derived from the French words sans caféine ("without caffeine"). The brand came to the United Statesmarker in 1909–10, where it was first marketed under the name "Dekafa" or "Dekofa" by an American sales agent.

In 1914, Roselius founded his own company, Kaffee Hag Corporation, in New York. When Kaffee Hag was confiscated by the Alien Property Custodian during World War I and sold to an American firm, Roselius lost not only his company, but also the American trademark rights to the name. To re-establish his product, he began to use the Sanka brand name in America.

In Europe the Hag company used the Sanka brand in many countries (Holland, Begium, Germany, Switzerland amongst others) as a cheaper alternative to the premium brand Coffee Hag. The brand disappeared in these countries after World War II, but it continued until the 1970s as the premium brand in France. First marketed in the United States in 1923, Sanka was initially sold only at two Sanka Coffee Houses in New York, but it soon was brought into retail.


The intensive American advertising campaigns included the 1927 broadcasts of Sanka After-Dinner Hour (aka Sanka Music, Sanka After-Dinner Music, Sanka Music Hour and Sanka After-Dinner Coffee Hour), heard at 6:30pm Tuesdays on New York's WEAF.

With such promotion, Sanka became a nationwide sales success with General Foods Corporation taking over distribution in 1928 as a defensive measure, since Sanka directly competed with its non-caffeine coffee substitute Postum. The bright orange label that made Sanka easily identifiable to consumers found its way into coffee shops around the country in the form of the decaf coffee pot. Coffee pots with a bright orange handle are a direct result of the American public's association of the color orange with Sanka, no matter which brand of coffee is actually served. Businesses that serve rival Folgers decaffeinated coffee usually have green-handled pots.

Sanka albums

In France, Café Sanka issued heraldic picture albums in the same style as the Coffee Hag albums. However, only six albums of the planned 42 were ever published


  • Sanka was a sponsor of I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show during their respective runs on CBS television in the 1950s and early 1960s.
  • During the 1970s, a series of television commercials featuring actor Robert Young (of Marcus Welby, M.D. fame), encouraged coffee drinkers to switch to Sanka, to bring down their blood pressure and decrease nervousness and irritability.
  • In the movie Cool Runnings, actor/comedian Doug E. Doug portrays a fictional Jamaican bobsledder named Sanka Coffie, whose name sounds like the brand of coffee.
  • In Cole Porter's lyrics for Kiss Me, Kate, Bill quips, "To win you, Bianca/ There's nothin I would not do/ I would gladly give up coffee for Sanka/ Even Sanka, Bianca, for you."
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Soup," Elaine requests decaf coffee at the diner Reggie's. The waitress replies, "We have Sanka."
  • In the Entourage episode "What About Bob?" The character Bob Ryan ask for Sanka when entering the office of a studio head.
  • In the Movie " Fast Times at Ridgemont High" Mr. Vargas (Ridgemont teacher) says; "I've switched to Sanka people.. have a heart!".


  1. Decaffeination: Roselius process
  2. Sanka. Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1989. Accessed 5 August 2008.
  3. [1]
  4. Davis, Madelyn Pugh, et al. I Love Lucy, complete sixth season. Hollywood, Calif: Paramount Home Entertainment, 2006.

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