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Is a SunJoy an Arnold Palmer?

An Arnold Palmer is a popular drink made by combining iced tea and lemonade. The SunJoy drink is a product made by SunnyD that also combines lemonade and tea, leading some to wonder if it is the same thing as an Arnold Palmer. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the ingredients, nutrition, taste, and origins of SunJoy versus an Arnold Palmer to see how they compare.

The History of the Arnold Palmer

The Arnold Palmer drink was named after the famous professional golfer Arnold Palmer. According to the story, Palmer was in the habit of drinking a homemade combination of iced tea and lemonade to refresh himself between golf rounds in hot weather. In the 1960s, a beverage vendor at a country club Palmer frequented began selling the drink and dubbing it the “Arnold Palmer.” The name stuck, and commercial versions of the drink hit the market soon after.

The Arnold Palmer became hugely popular on golf courses and country clubs in the 1960s and 70s. As Palmer’s fame as a golfer rose, so did the popularity of his namesake drink. These days it is served at many restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, and vending machines.

The Origins of SunJoy

SunJoy is a product made and marketed by Sunny Delight Beverages Co, the company behind the popular SunnyD brand of fruit juices. SunnyD released SunJoy in the late 1990s as a new variety of drink combining tea and lemonade.

Unlike the original homemade Arnold Palmer drink, SunJoy was formulated by the SunnyD research and development team to create a commercially viable ready-to-drink beverage. While it was likely designed to compete with the surging popularity of the Arnold Palmer in the 1990s, it did not specifically set out to recreate that drink.

Ingredients in SunJoy vs. Arnold Palmer

Being homemade beverages originally, there are no set recipes for either SunJoy or an Arnold Palmer. However, we can compare some typical ingredients found in each:

SunJoy Arnold Palmer
Filtered water Brewed iced tea
High fructose corn syrup Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Citric acid Sugar or simple syrup to taste
Natural flavors Optional: Honey or agave nectar as sweetener instead of sugar
Tea from concentrate Optional: Mint sprig or slice of lemon for garnish
Ascorbic acid

As you can see, while both drinks combine tea and lemon flavors, they have some distinct differences. SunJoy is made from concentrate with added sweeteners, while an Arnold Palmer is brewed fresh. The Arnold Palmer has a simpler, more homemade ingredient profile. However, SunJoy could be seen as more convenient and consistent since it is pre-bottled and ready-to-drink.

Nutrition Info

Here is a nutritional comparison of an 8 fluid ounce serving of SunJoy versus a typical Arnold Palmer:

Nutrient SunJoy Arnold Palmer
Calories 90 45-60
Total Fat 0g 0g
Sodium 25mg 15mg
Total Carbohydrates 23g 11-15g
Sugars 23g 10-12g
Protein 0g 0g

SunJoy has slightly higher calories, sodium, carbohydrates, and sugars compared to an average Arnold Palmer. This is likely due to it containing concentrated juices and added sweeteners. The Arnold Palmer has a more natural, less processed nutritional profile.

Taste Test

So how do SunJoy and an Arnold Palmer stack up when it comes to taste? Here is a subjective taste comparison:


– Sweet and tangy flavor profile

– Dominant lemon/citrus taste with mellow tea notes

– Candy-like sugary taste from added sweeteners

– Light golden color

– Fizzy, soda-like carbonation

Arnold Palmer

– Balanced lemon and tea flavors

– Lightly sweet taste depending on amount of sugar added

– More authentic brewed tea flavor

– Cloudy darker color from brewed tea

– No carbonation

In terms of taste, SunJoy comes across as more of a sweet, fizzy soda with citrus notes, while an Arnold Palmer has a simpler, more unsweetened iced tea-forward taste profile. The Arnold Palmer allows you to control the sweetness level yourself by how much sugar you add.

Cost Comparison

In terms of cost, pre-bottled SunJoy is a bit more expensive than making your own Arnold Palmer at home:

Beverage Typical Cost
SunJoy (12 oz bottle) $1.00 – $1.50 per bottle
Arnold Palmer $0.10 – $0.30 per 8oz serving

The ingredients to make an Arnold Palmer like tea bags, lemons, sugar and water are very inexpensive. This means you can make multiple servings of fresh Arnold Palmer at home for less than the cost of a single pre-bottled SunJoy.


While SunJoy rose to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s, it has declined in availability in recent years. It can still be found in some grocery stores, convenience stores, and mass retailers like Walmart but is not as widespread as it once was. Arnold Palmer drinks have increased in availability and can now be found in most grocery store beverage aisles, at convenience/gas stations, in vending machines, and on restaurant menus across the country.

The Verdict

So is SunJoy really an Arnold Palmer? While both combine lemonade and tea flavors, they have distinct differences:

  • SunJoy is mass-produced from concentrate while an Arnold Palmer is freshly brewed.
  • SunJoy has a candier, soda-like taste profile compared to a more natural Arnold Palmer.
  • Arnold Palmer lets you control sweetness and strength while SunJoy does not.
  • SunJoy is now less widely available than bottled Arnold Palmers.

Based on ingredients, taste, cost, and availability, SunJoy is not quite a true replica of an authentic Arnold Palmer. The SunnyD company likely drew inspiration from the Arnold Palmer but created their own unique take on the lemonade and iced tea combination drink. SunJoy is a pre-bottled, mass produced interpretation of an Arnold Palmer, but not an exact match. So while SunJoy may be an acceptable ready-to-drink option, for the true homemade Arnold Palmer taste and experience, you can’t beat making it fresh yourself!