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Will Radcliff dies at 74; entrepreneur who produced Slush Puppie frozen drinks

Will Radcliff dies at 74; entrepreneur who produced Slush Puppie frozen drinks
Will Radcliff founded Slush Puppie after spotting a slush machine at a 1970 Chicago trade show and realizing the possibilities of icy sweet drinks that could be made for a few pennies. (Associated Press)
Will Radcliff, 74, who built a multimillion-dollar global business from flavored, icy Slush Puppie drinks, died Thursday in Cincinnati of complications from a recent fall, his family said.

Radcliff was a natural salesman who once peddled vacuum cleaners door-to-door and earned a six-figure income from selling peanuts.

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He spotted a slush machine at a 1970 Chicago trade show and saw the possibilities of icy sweet drinks that could be made for a few pennies. He thought the sound of icy crystals hitting the cup, the smell and taste of flavorings and the texture pleased all the senses.

The family story goes that he, his sister Phyllis and their mother, Thelma, sat on a front porch drinking beer and writing down possible names on a brown paper bag before agreeing that Slush Puppie was the best candidate. It would be represented by a floppy-eared dog.

Cherry, grape, orange and lemon-lime were among the earliest flavors. Sales boomed and business spread, with Slush Puppie machines becoming a staple in many convenience stores. Distributorships from Australia to Africa made Slush Puppie global, and London-based Cadbury Schweppes PLC bought the Slush Puppie Co. in 2001.

Radcliff also had a frozen cocktail business, among other business operations.

Willard Lawson Radcliff was born in Dayton, Ky. According to his daughter, DeeAnn Radcliff Harmon, his first regular job was shining shoes at a country club, and he later kept a vow to return to the club someday as a member.

Radcliff owned a 4,000-acre ranch in Umatilla, Fla., and worked for land conservation in the state.

Times wire reports

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