RIP: A dozen dead (or almost-dead) soft drinks
Soda, like most everything else in the world, has a lifespan. Some sodas live long and prosper, while others die and fade away (or, as is true of a few on this list, end up in the bargain section at Walmart).
This list is devoted to those drinks that quenched our thirst, kept us awake, and allowed us to be as high as a person can legally get on caffeine and sugar. Bless you, dead soft drinks. Thank you for your many gifts. And rest in peace.
12. Crystal Pepsi Right now, people all around the world are seeing their colas the way cola is meant to be seen. Right now, Van Halen is drinking something decidedly non-sodaish while wondering if they should do another reunion tour. Right now would be a good time to watch an old ad on YouTube. Because right now, Crystal Pepsi does not exist.
11. Teem Teem was Pepsi's lemon-lime response to the growing popularity of Coke's recent introduction, Sprite, in 1964. It stumbled along until 1984, when Slice took over (probably by decree of Winston Smith), and relegated Teem to South American countries, where, like Nazi war criminals, old sodas apparently go to retire.
10. Hubba Bubba A soft-drink that tastes like bubble gum! How could it go wrong? Well, lots of ways, actually. For one, it was too kid-focused, which meant that its audience was significantly smaller than most sodas. More importantly, it induced the irresistible urge to chew and blow bubbles in most users, which was frankly disgusting and very messy.
9. Kick This mid-90s creation was doomed from the start with an ad campaign that tried way, way to hard to be "xtreme." It referred to itself as the "psycho nitro drink in a can," which is sort of like your grandma calling her apple cobbler "wicked awesome." I mean, she can say that, and you'll probably let it slide, but there's going to be some undeniable patronizing involved.
8. Orbitz Little balls of gelatin suspended in fruit-flavored non-carbonated sugar water? Yeah, how in the world did this not catch on? There are a lot of things I wouldn't want floating in my drink, and little balls are definitely one of them.
7. Josta A guarana-based soft drink? Doesn't sound that great, but Josta definitely had its followers. Probably had something to do with the fact that guarana is an energy-boost, with approximately twice the caffeine of coffee, so addiction is probably a factor. But whatever--Josta was discontinued in 1999 (only four years after its introduction) due to a "change in corporate strategy." In other words, they couldn't translate the Josta name, the reference to guarana, or the jungle cat on the logo into something people wanted to drink.
6. Grapette/Orangette A classic soda from the 30s and 40s that died in 1970, right around the same time as Orange and Grape Crush were becoming more popular. It's come back--sort of--as a Sam's Club (Walmart) brand, which means it's not dead, but not really alive either. Sort of undead. Basically, it's a shuffling corporate zombie of its former self. Drink up!
5. Surge Surge was created to go head-to-head with Mountain Dew, but it took on a life of its own that survives even after its death. It has websites devoted to its resuscitation, its own Facebook page, desktop wallpaper engraved with its neon-green face, an independent film made about it, and discussion-board posts boasting of sightings on the shelves of small, out-of-the-way places across America. Surge is the Elvis of sodas. And neither are coming back, people.
4. OK Cola This wasn't so much a soda as it was a cultural experiment. And in that, it can be said to have been somewhat successful, since the Generation X crowd to which it was primarily aimed remembers it with some fondness--from the ad and can art by alt-cartoonists Daniel Clowesand Charles Burns to the slogan "Things are going to be OK." It was very slacker, and very hip, and very dead after a short test run in select markets (including Denver).
3. Slice It's hard to believe that Slice is really gone from the market, since it played such a major role (compared to other contemporary soft drinks in this list) on TV advertising and store shelves. But gone it is (at least from major markets), being replaced by Sierra Mist in 2000 much the same way that Slice replaced Teem back in '84. Again, you can supposedly still get Slice at Walmart, which is really becoming an elephant graveyard for soft drinks.
2. Moxie This sweet and bitter drink is still in very limited production, and relegated to New England (where it was first bottled) for the most part. It's by no means the soft drink powerhouse that it was when it spawned a still-existing phrase to the English language: "he's got moxie". Itmeant courage, spunk, fortitude--which, of course, in turn means that there was a really strong ad campaign behind it. These days, it's that slogan that Moxie is most known for--even though most people don't know why they're saying it, or what it means. You know, like talk radio.
1. Original Coke Not Coke Classic--the real original Coke, from back in the late 1800s, up until 1903, when the drink no longer contained significant levels of cocaine. Which not only pretty much explains why people were so happy in the Gilded Age, but also means that Jolt Cola? Can suck it.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.