Arctic Splash is discontinuing cartons, and Fishtown is in an uproar

💌 Do you love Philly? Sign up for Billy Penn’s free newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.


An iconic symbol of Fishtown will soon be gone, and you probably can’t blame gentrification for this: Arctic Splash will no longer come in cardboard boxes.

Dean Foods Co., the Dallas-based manufacturer behind the product, will continue to make the iced tea-flavored beverage that has long been ubiquitous in River Wards, but the packaging is changing.

“Item is being discontinued,” a Dean Foods sales rep wrote this week in a text message to Bob Ritchie, co-owner of the Interstate Drafthouse neighborhood tavern, who was looking to order more cases for his bar. “Only available in gallon or [half-gallon].”

Arctic Splash has been a key food group for many long-time Fishtowners. Some residents consider it an essential part of their daily soft pretzel breakfast, and when the recipe was changed in 2016 to make it less sweet, people freaked out a bit.

School milk-style cartons play a big part in the drink’s popularity, and its design, with frosty blue bubble lettering on a brown ocean surrounding a glass of tea, has been co-opted by several other brands trying to express fishtown-ness. . (Pizza Boy Brewing’s “Arctic Trash” beer label, for example.)

That’s a potential plus: Small cartons make up a decent portion of the trash found throughout Fishtown. There’s even an Instagram account (@arctic_trash) dedicated to recording lost containers on the ground.

Fans have been devastated to hear of his pending demise, according to comments on the Interstate Drafthouse post breaking the news.

“This is like that movie ‘Moon Fall’ where the moon fell, but more Fishtown-centric and with more dire consequences,” user @leolashlandis wrote.

“Why would they stop!? This news makes me sad!” said user @patrice776.

“Please pray for me during this troubled time,” @dhm said, in a post. spreading the word to the Twitterverse.

The news is bittersweet for the team at Interstate Drafthouse, who use the cartons as the basis for the bar’s famous Fishtown Iced Tea. As it happens, they recently licensed the concept to a new partner company that will produce the mighty cocktail in cans.

Because of this, Interstate co-owner Michael McCloskey said, there’s a chance that liquid could be delivered in barrels, which could then be poured directly into custom milk cartons for serving.

The keg-to-box idea has so far been the most popular of the options presented to bar patrons, according to McCloskey, who noted that it would also be much easier on the staff.

“The way it works now is very labor intensive,” McCloskey said. “We have to unload all the [Arctic Splash] cartons, take them downstairs for storage, bring them up as needed, then mix each drink to order.”

Dean Foods’ reasons for the change are not entirely clear. Representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Billy Penn. Two years ago, when the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they were adamant about continuing production.

“Arctic Splash is an iconic brand in Philadelphia and as long as our customers and their thirsty consumers continue to demand it, we will continue to make it,” Anne Divjak, vice president of governance and communications for Dean Foods, said at the time.

Leave a Comment