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What Brought Howard Stern Into the Honest Tea Story?

By Motley Fool Staff and Tom Gardner - Mar 15, 2014 at 5:00PM

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A shocking find in a beverage produced at Honest Tea's bottling plant got the world talking in October 2001.

Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff founded Honest Tea in 1998. In the recently released Mission in a Bottle, the co-founders tell -- in comic book form -- the story of building a successful mission-driven business. Goldman, now president and "TeaEO" of Honest Tea, joins Motley Fool CEO Tom Gardner to discuss sustainability, entrepreneurship, and what it means for a socially responsible, health-oriented business to be bought by Coca-Cola ( KO -0.38% ) .

In this video segment, Goldman recalls the "surreal experience" of a 2001 scandal when a consumer made an unsettling find in a bottle of Ora Potency Punch, produced at the bottling plant owned by Honest Tea.

A full transcript follows the video.

Tom Gardner: You mentioned the difficulty of raising money in 2001. Then in October of 2001 you got a phone call, or a connection with the Denver police. I just want to say, I believe we have an adult audience here this evening, so feel free to give the NC-17 version of the story.

Seth Goldman: In the big picture, we have some real fun cameos. There's a cameo by President Obama. There's a cameo by Oprah. The one I wouldn't have wished for was a cameo by Howard Stern.

What happened was, a guy went into a Denver 7-Eleven and he bought a product that was made at the bottling plant we own. The product wasn't Honest Tea, thankfully. It was called Ora's Potency Punch.

His Potency Punch was a little too potent. He thought there was a male organ in the bottle. There were pictures of it.

When I got the call from the plant manager, he said, "Are you sitting down?"

I said, "Yes. What's going on?"

He said, "Well, I've just got to tell you. There's this male surprise in a bottle."

I said, "Oh, my gosh. How did ... what ...?" I said, "Well, I better tell Denise" -- the other owner of the plant -- so I called her. I said, "Denise, I hope you're sitting down."

She said, "Oh, yeah, what's the matter?"

I said, "This guy bought a bottle of Ora Potency Punch at the 7-Eleven and it's too potent, and he thinks there's a male organ."

She goes, "What?" and she just drops the phone.

As she's doing this, the computer tech is in her office and he says, "Lady, is everything OK?"

She said, "You'll never believe this, but we have this bottling plant, and this guy went into a 7-Eleven ..."

He said, "Oh, yeah, and he found the male organ inside?"

She said, "How do you know?"

He said, "I heard it on Howard Stern on the way over."

Howard Stern was talking about it because the "segment" was only two inches long and Howard's like, "No one's going to confess that it's theirs!"

It turned out it was mold that took on that shape. That was one of those surreal experiences that you just cannot make up.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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