Drinking

Tea-riffic Progress

The unusual trio behind Granny Squibb’s is already steeped in success

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The whole idea started with an old family recipe. After years in New York City, Robin Squibb returned to the East Side of Providence and started experimenting with her grandmother’s version of iced tea. The recipe dated to the 1930s, when cold tea was still a novel idea. Robin tried dozens of variations, until she discovered the exact right protocol. Now in her mid-70s, Robin decided to bottle the stuff and found her own company, Granny Squibb’s, in 2009.

A few years later, Robin met Nick Carr and Kelley McShane, two millennials who moved into her spare apartment. While their professional backgrounds were different, they really hit it off: Nick and Kelley were also fond of history, outdoor sports, and community-building, and it wasn’t long before Robin invited them to help with Granny Squibb’s.

Today, the bottles are available in 250 grocery stores across New England, including Whole Foods and Dave’s Marketplace. The company recently brought on two major staff members, project manager Emma Haskell and CEO Jamie Schapiro. When their third flavor, Charlie’s Cranberry, hit shelves last December, a percentage of profits started going to Save the Bay. If you’re wondering who Charlie is, it’s named after Robin’s own dog.

“There are lots of exciting things going on,” says Robin. “We actually just brought on two new distributors, North East Beverage and Horizon. This is very exciting for us, as it aligns with our plans for expansion.”

Perhaps the most impressive new development is the Granny’s Squibb’s can. This may seem like a departure for iced tea – given iconic bottles like Snapple and Nantucket Nectars – but bottles are forbidden in many places, especially along the coast, which makes cans a profitable alternative.

“This allows for us to sell to a whole new group of channels that we were not able to before,” says Robin. “We will soon be available on beaches and ferries, venues that do not allow glass.”

Business is booming for Granny Squibb’s, and it’s hard to believe that a single pitcher of tea, brewed and iced during the Great Depression, could be enjoyed by such a wide swathe of people. Yet the most personal honor came this summer, when Granny Squibb’s became the Official Iced Tea of the Newport Folk Festival. That’s when you know you’ve hit it big time.