Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beverages, we hardly knew ye...

I used to drink soda everyday. EVERY DAY. I'm not a coffee drinker (I can't stand the taste, or smell, largely due to the breath of one junior high science teacher I used to T.A. for), so I would get my caffeine (and SUGAR) fix from what I would call my "morning Mountain Dew" or Coke, or whatever. In an effort to be more health-conscious and get in shape, I've decided to quit soda cold turkey--over two weeks in, and so far, so good (thanks largely to an ice tea brewer!). As soda is now dead to me, I thought I'd take this time to reflect on and celebrate beverages that are no longer with us. So let's begin, shall we?

Born: 1987
Died: 2001

A tie-in with the animated The Real Ghostbusters, the drink featured lovable hot-dog gobblin' spectre Slimer on the box, and was colored green. A must for all juice-box aficionados like myself, it was truly heartbreaking when it was discontinued. First, Slimer left the box and was replaced with some floating lips. Then, it was renamed "Shoutin' Orange Tangerine." And then...R.I.P. Here's hoping that when Ghostbusters 3 hits the multiplexes in the next year or two, Hi-C will jump at the promotional chance and bring the beverage back from the dead.

Born: 1991
Died: 1991

Part of a trio of experimental Pepsi products (known to soda collectors as "The Pepsi Wild Bunch") including Pepsi Strawberry Burst and Pepsi Raging Razzberry, Tropical Chill Pepsi added "various tropical fruits" to the formula. Sadly, it never made it out of the test markets. Happily, I was IN one of those test markets (Davis, CA to be precise). I vividly remember trying it for the first time as I sat down to watch Arachnophobia on VHS and eat a square pan Little Caesar's pizza at my friend Matt Berry's house. I thought it tasted kind of weird. But maybe that was just my reaction to John Goodman as an exterminator. 

Born: 1997
Died: 2003

A citrus soda introduced by Coke to compete with Pepsi's Mountain Dew brand, Surge! had a bright neon green glow and an exclamation point. Norway is the only place you can currently buy the drink, where it goes by the moniker "Urge." With both this and the Dew around, it made relaxed citrus beverage Mello Yello fade into oblivion (vaya con Dios, Mello Yello). 

Born: 1982
Died: 1987

Pepsi's first stab at a caffeine-free formula, the name was later ditched and gave way to the aptly-titled Caffeine-Free Pepsi. Still, Pepsi Free will be forever immortalized by young Marty McFly in the second Back to the Future film, where he orders one in a futuristic cafe, only to be told "If you want a Pepsi, pal, you're gonna have to pay for it." Nothing better than soda-based comedy in my world.

Born: 2004
Died: 2006

Pepsi, with the added "holiday" flavor of cinnamon and nutmeg. Oh, and it's kind of nasty. And I bet the ol' pep with trot it out again one of these Yuletides. Like a sucker, I'll see it and think, "Well, maybe it's not as bad as I remember it being" and then I'll buy it anyway, and give my folks the gift of a holiday spit-take.

Born: Unknown
Died: 1994

Ah, Dr. Slice. Why is it that Dr. Pepper knock-offs all have the Doc prefix? I'm pretty certain this beverage didn't go to soda medical school. Slice, in general, had a bit of an identity crisis, being offered in a bazillion flavors, including orange, apple, grape, lemon-lime, grapefruit, fruit punch, pineapple, and the ever popular red.

Born: 1992
Died: 1993

Pepsi executive: Hey, guys, I've got a great idea! You know how we add that dark caramel color to our previously clear liquid? Let's just skip that step and call it "Crystal!"
World: Um...no thank you.
This was pretty stupid. But that didn't stop me from drinking it. I like to be able to see through my drinks. It's liberating...somehow.

Born: 1985
Died: 1992

It's amazing that this thing stayed on the market as long as it did, considering the "sky is falling" reaction it got from the public. Really just a much sweeter version of the original formula (it used a high fructose corn syrup), the idea to monkey with the "ain't broke" classic coke was about a smart as green-lighting a sequel to, say, Ishtar or Heaven's Gate. Though, actually, I'd totally go see a sequel to Ishtar--Telling the truth can be dangerous business...Honest and popular don't go hand in hand!

Hope you've enjoyed this trip down drink-memory lane. I need a non-carbonated, sugar-free beverage...


  1. I, too, enjoyed Crystal Pepsi once or twice before it was cruelly taken away from me. However, I don't recall the "citrus taste" version.

  2. There was a Pepsi Light that was lemon flavored. I barfed it up once in line at Coast Federal Savings. Both are no longer in existence. Coincidence???

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