History of the Snap-E-Tom Tomato Cocktail

Close up of original

SAN FRANCISCO – Snap-E-Tom tomato cocktail was a product of the Pioneer Ortega company, and later Heublein, and today owned by Del Monte. Made with chile peppers, onions and tomatoes, it was a Bloody Mary mix that advertised itself as the Big Brother of the Bloody Mary, Bloody Thomas.

Snap-E was the hot tomato of the 1970s brunch, sexier than staid Mr. & Mrs. T. Since Great Depression, he has been the zesty cousin of the perennial East Coast WASP drink, the Bloody Mary.

The trademark, according to the USPTO, was first used Nov. 30. 1930. It is described as a canned tomato juice comprised of water, tomatoes, green chiles and onions.

According to Kathy Strong’s Southern California Off the Beaten Path, Ortega of Ventura, California was founded by Emilio Ortega. Ortega was headquartered in the historic Ortega Adobe, a structure at 215 East Main Street. Ortega invented a fire roasting process for chili peppers and developed chili, salsa and Snap-E-Tom.

The product is deceptively simple, and one of the few products with the ingredient list shown as part of the packaging.

The product had disappeared from grocery shelves around 2010, when BrandlandUSA.com first looked back at the product. It later reappeared, and is now disappeared from Amazon.com and Walmart.com.

Customer reviews are mixed. Some say that the version made around 2015 was the same as before, others felt it was of less quality. Tomato juice drinks may be hard to ruin, however, as celery, tomato and pepper are pretty simple ingredients.

Del Monte renewed the trademark at the beginning of 2020, with the Ortega name left off of his wide brimmed Mexican hat. Ortega, mostly known for taco kits, is now part of B&G. B&G Foods purchased the Ortega brand in 2003.

The current version is just not as cool as the original. The company would do well to look at the early 1970s packaging, and stick with it. It also needs a good animator, and would do well in Tic Toc clips, etc. Below, a 1970 commercial.

Comments at bottom have a full history of the product.

Below, Images of the Brand. Note: This post was revised on Feb. 7, 2021

41 Comments

  1. I came up with my own recipe for the Tom.
    1. 64 oz tomato juice
    2. 7 oz can Ortega chiles
    3. 4 oz can Ortega chiles
    4. 4 oz can of Ortega Jalapenos (I use 1/2 can)
    5. 1 tbs salt

    Blend it all up together and enjoy (Can’t leave the beer alone now)

  2. It’s the best red beer you can make.. spice it up… I use to make it in earjy 80s..it was good made my ears ring..

  3. Here’s a recipe that’s veeeeeeeeeery close. I use Trader Joe’s products so if you don’t have a T.J.’s, you’ll need to find alternative products.

    1 – 64 fl oz bottle of Trader Joe’s Garden Patch Vegetable Juice. If all they got is Low Sodium, you’ll need to add a quality Mediterranean or sea salt to taste. At least a tablespoon.
    1 – 4 oz can of Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Green Chiles.
    2 – medium sized Jalapeno peppers.

    Pour a half cup or so of the vegetable juice in blender, add can of chiles, and cut up jalapenos. Blend on high till thoroughly liquefied. Add remainder of the vegetable juice and blend on slow to medium. Taste – add salt if necessary. Put in refrigerator to chill, or serve on ice.

    Some people recommend adding chili habanero hot sauce like the El Yucateco brand found at most grocery stores. However, I find that adding the sauce actually takes away from a more authentic Tom flavor. No need to add onion salt/power or any other additional seasonings if you’re using the Trader Joe’s vegetable juice. It’s seasoned just right.

    Try the above recipe, and I think you’ll find it’s remarkably close to the original flavor.

  4. Just called Del Monte and they said they are not making the Snap E Tom Chili Cocktail. It was not selling nationwide to keep making it.

    1. Of course Snap-E-Tom wasn’t selling nationwide, Del Monte.

      #1: You couldn’t find it hardly anywhere. If you did find it, the store buried between the 15 varieties of v8 products.
      #2: You hadn’t spent a cent in advertising Tom for decades. The 70’s commercials were great and a big hit. Should have re-booted commercials in that style.

      I was getting Tom last year (2018) at Cash & Carry. I’d buy 5 cases at a time. The Tom was indeed the original recipe…exactly as it was in the 70’s. But this spring I went back for more only to find out Del Monty pulled the plug. Tom didn’t fail, Del Monty. You failed Tom.

  5. Why is Snap E Tom so hard to find? Do they still make it?

  6. Topper that Snap E Tom is not designed to be put up your butt that may be the problem turd boy

  7. Snap e Tim available in little rock Arkansas at Edwards food giant

  8. looking for it, (snappy tom ) in ventura county.

  9. Everyone, stop looking for snappy tom. It’s not the same. I looked for years and couldn’t find it on the shelves of any store. Finally my husband talked to a store owner and he agreed to order some. I was so excited to finally get,ahold of some. But my excitement turned to dissapoiment. It’s nothing more than tomato juice now. I will have to Doctor it up just to finish the case that I bought. Why why why do companies change formulas when there was nothing wrong with it in the first place. Now I know why it’s hard to find. One taste and you won’t buy it again. Del monte, are you listening?


  10. Sad to see the Ortega product go. In the 70’s we blended snappy-tom in cold beers while bottom fishing off Ventura.

    My wife just brought home some V8 Spicy Hot in little 5.5oz cans. They do remind me of snappy-tom.

    1. I. Liked it cold straight outta da can

  11. The links being posted for Snap-E-Tom is NOT for the original recipe!!

    It is NOT the same thing!!!

  12. Has anyone noticed the sodium? I don’t remember it being that high when it was the original. I would like to get some, but I am taking blood pressure medicine. And 1 small can has 61% of my days need of sodium. Make my face red just thinking about it.

  13. Years Ago We Use To Take By The Case On Our SHRINE Parades For Sunday Moring ,Departure For “Bloody Mary’s” It Was Fantastic. I Have Not Been Able To Find It In Arizona, Since I’ve Been Tucson. I Think It Should Be Back On The Shelf, I Have Lot’s Friends That Love It In The Little Cans , We Use To Buy Them By The Case. Please ( e-mail ) Me And Let Us Know Where We Can Get Them Here—-( iwojima@q,com )–Thank You —Joe Clements

  14. I think the American taste for spiciness has changed over the last 40 years. My wife brought some Snap-E-Tom home this weekend and the stuff was just Tomato Juice to me. Sure, the can lists peppers and onions but I COULD NOT TASTE ANYTHING BUT TOMATO. Compared to Mr. & Mrs. T this stuff is water.

  15. My mom made a salad dressing which used Snap E Tom mixed with mayo, relish, salt/pepper, sugar, and lemon juice. Miss the stuff…

  16. According to family history, the original developer of Snap-E Tom –way back when, before it was sold to Pioneer–was a gentleman whose last name was Weber. Doing some genealogy research, would like to know his first name.

    1. His name was Henry Weber, he was my Grandfather’s brother and was of Volga German heritage. He died in the early 1960’s which I believe is when the company, or brand, was first sold.
      The original company was Coastal Valley Canning company, in Oxnard, CA.
      According to the Ortega website, the Ortega brand was sold in 1946, which is probably when Henry bought it. I’m not sure when Snap-E-Tom was developed.
      I know the brands were later sold to Heublein Inc., which was later purchased by R.J.Reynolds. After RJR merged with Nabisco, Heublein’s assets were liquidated and Snap-E-Tom seemed to disappear, along with the Heublein name and their canned cocktails. Ortega is now owned by B&G Foods but apparently Snap-E-Tom is not included. From what I can tell, Del Monte currently owns the Snap-E-Tom brand but I never see it in stores. I can still find it in restaurant supply websites so it might still be out there. Good luck, the spicy V8 is good, but no comparison to Snap-E-Tom.

      1. haha just ran across this site and yes mi primo uncle henry as we called him kept the whole family in supply . i remember as a kid grandpa had a cupboard filled with the stuff . henrys coastal vally canning co. processed chiles and tomato’s and that was how he came up the idea .

    2. Snap-E-Tom was a concentrated, very thin, very spicy tomato-chili product. From what I’m reading lately, it’s now a salty tomato juice with little spice. So sad to see it go!

  17. You can buy it on-line from Foodservice Direct http://www.foodservicedirect.com/product.cfm/p/2298/Snap-E-Tom-Tomato-and-Chili-Cocktail.htm
    $16.25 a case +$13 shipping =$2.46 a can .
    I just bought some at a store in Amarillo (Market Street) $.99 a can. I havn’t had it for a long time. I have to say it doesn’t have the same green chile flavor like it did when Ortega owned it. Just buy a can of green chili, thrown in a couple of canned jalapeno, puree it and add it to Tomato Juice. Home made Snap E.

  18. I am mad as hell over this shortage of snap-e-tom. How do you expect to make money if it is NOT available! I will be the new spokemans for your product—if you need one? Contact me if you need too! People never realive a good thing when they have it!!!—WHY?

  19. where can I get this product snap-e-tom, guys guy have made a BIG mistake removing it from the grocery stores……………. get a fucking grip!

  20. where in the funk can I get Snap-E Tom?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Idiot’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. It is still made and the brand is now owned by DelMonte

  22. Is snappy tom still available anywhere in the U.S.

  23. Just bought 2 cans at a Stater Brothers supermarket in Chino Hills, CA 91709. I assume other Stater Brothers’ stores also carry it ($1.49/12 oz can).

  24. Just ordered two 24 can cases of the 6 oz cans from Amazon for $32.60 including free shipping. Looking forward to enjoying it as I found some in a liquor store in Denver this summer and loved it.

  25. OMGosh WE ALL miss Snappy Tom. Have you ever had an ice cold Red Beer made with Snappy Tom?? Hang a few chilled Tiger Prawns on the side of glass AND my Mexican Seafood Cerviche has NEVER been the same without the flavor of Snappy Tom. Sooooooo SAD!!!!!

  26. Can you find Snappy Tom in Alabama?

  27. Where in Alabama can you purchase it?

  28. I just saw this on the shelf at the Woodman’s grocery store. It’s a DelMonte product now.

    1. I went in the last year and haven’t been able to find it there at all

  29. We used to drink it in Texas and California in the 50’s and 60’s. It was great to mix with beer in a frozen mug.

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