Is SunnyD Really Orange Juice?

Nothing completes breakfast like a nice tall glass of orange juice. Does that still apply, though, if the "orange juice" is from the SunnyD brand? What you may think of as a healthy glass of vitamin C or fortified orange juice is actually far from it, as SunnyD is more aptly described as a water and syrup concoction.

Per Mental Floss, SunnyD is made up of about 98% water and corn syrup. And that citrusy tang you're tasting? It's not orange juice at all, but rather a combination of citric acid and fruit flavoring artificially colored with Yellow #5 and Yellow #6. All the other ingredients in SunnyD don't resemble anything even remotely like the real thing. A look at the nutrition label for SunnyD's Tangy Original reveals a drink loaded with chemical additives and preservatives, giving it 190 milligrams of sodium and 14 grams of sugar (including 12 grams of added sugar) per serving, amounting to 60 calories total — that's for one glass alone.

As its label claims, SunnyD "contains 5% juice." The only "natural" ingredients aside from the juice concentrate are canola oil and cornstarch. The nutrition breakdown of an 11.3-ounce glass of SunnyD, as shared on Fooducate, also points out that one glass will account for 10% of one's daily intake of sodium, 27% of sugars, and 48% of added sugars.

SunnyD's marketing is intentionally deceptive

If you could've sworn SunnyD was either orange juice or contained orange juice, you're not alone. The Center for Science in the Public Interest explains that this is largely due to how SunnyD advertises their product through clever labels and misleading grocery store placement. Despite the fact it would make more sense to put SunnyD with the orange soda or next to fruit punch, you'll find the bottles instead in the refrigerated aisle next to orange juice and milk.

What's more, as CSPI details, SunnyD's price compares to Minute Maid brand 100% orange juice, and is even more expensive than generic store-brand orange juices. That alone suggests that it's better quality than it is, or at least natural in some way. Some flavors of SunnyD are even advertised as "Florida Style," conflating SunnyD with Florida's Natural and Tropicana — orange juice brands known for being made with Florida oranges.

Then there are the commercials, which have long been promoting SunnyD as a healthy mom-approved beverage (as in this 1994 ad via YouTube). The truth is, it's all a big act. SunnyD isn't orange juice, or even, really juice at all.