America has served up plenty of unsavory items throughout its food history, from canned bread to gelatin molds. And, it turns out, the drinks menu didn’t get much better.
Some soda companies like Jones and Avery’s Beverages openly tout their weird and sometimes unappetizing flavors. (Did you know Turkey and Gravy Soda is a thing?) Other companies, however, released their fair share of products, which probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but slowly lost its appeal.
Read on to reflect on these imperfections in the soda industry and reminisce about the dodgy soft drinks Americans used to gulp down without a care in the world.
Have you ever looked at a lava lamp and thought to yourself, “That looks like a refreshing drink?” Well, the Clearly Food and Beverage Company of Canada marketing team did it in 1997, and so Orbitz Soda was born. The clear carbonated drink was accompanied by floating anti-gravity droplets, which were described as both fluffy and tasteless – what a combo! The liquid itself was available in different flavors like Vanilla Orange, Pineapple Banana Cherry Coconut (lots going on there) and Raspberry Citrus. According to many consumers brave enough to test the “texture-enhanced alternative drink”, it also left a lot to be desired.
When the drink first hit shelves, it garnered some curiosity and traction in the market. But, it seemed to be more of a unique drink experience for many Americans. The product was discontinued in 1999, just two years after its wild orbit landed it on Earth.
Pepsi is constantly churning out new flavors and iterations of its long-loved, classic soda pop. While some thrive in the market, others fail, and a few even create a good deal of controversy. One such product was Pepsi Blue. The drink was said to taste like anything from blueberries to cotton candy, but the neon blue coloring was anything but natural. In fact, it was created through the use of Brilliant blue FCF or Blue 1, a synthetic dye highly debated in the health world and even banned in some other countries. Most of the United States has been free of this chemical drink since 2004, although it has made a few appearances in international markets.
America’s favorite chewing gum turned into a fizzy liquid? What could go wrong? Turns out there wasn’t much to it at first, as shoppers and their sugar-loving kids rushed to get their hands on the Hubba Bubba Soda when Wrigley released the drink in 1987. But , much like the beloved gum, the novelty soft drink started fizzing out pretty quickly. The recognizable pink cans, along with their Diet Hubba Bubba Soda counterparts, only lasted a few years in stores. Looks like Wrigley really missed his chance in the soda market!
No product marketed as simply “OK” would fly in today’s world, nor do we know why it gained popularity in the 1990s. Released by Coca-Cola, OK Soda can be recognized by its cans with eerie and sad illustrated faces, as well as its medium flavor, which some would also describe as citrusy, or as an interesting clash of other sodas. The idea was to market and appeal to younger Gen Xers. But, the negativity and mediocrity eventually fell flat.
7-Up Gold was the first brainchild to arise from the maker’s merger with Dr Pepper in 1988 – and it wasn’t the best work of either company. Cinnamon and ginger flavors have joined forces in the aluminum cans, creating an interesting spicy soda in a somewhat off-putting shade of amber and brown. But, the flavor wasn’t even the biggest issue. Advertising for the soda was recklessly misleading, using the slogan “Never Had It, Never Will”, referring to its caffeine content, when the drink actually contained caffeine. This inconsistency, along with its other glaring differences from other 7-Up products on the market, only earned it a brief moment of fame.
Chocolate pairs well with many different flavors: peanut butter, caramel, nuts, fruit, to name a few. But, chocolate soda? It’s a flavor combination we’re not so sure about. That didn’t stop many well-known soda brands and clothing companies from giving it a boost in the ’80s, though. Among this experimental group was the Fudgesicle: a liquefied and carbonated version of the popular chocolate frozen dessert. But, the Fudgesicle Chocolate Fudge Soda, along with many other chocolate sodas, has since disappeared, hopefully proving that milk is the only acceptable liquid to swirl with chocolate.
You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more accurate name for this 1980s soda relic – kudos to the brand’s product development department! Jolt Cola was marketed to busy young people or those in need of a strong energy boost with the slogan “All the sugar and twice the caffeine!” And even that may have been an understatement. The 16-ounce soft drink contained 160 milligrams of caffeine, compared to about 45 milligrams for a similarly sized Coke and 50 milligrams for a can of Pepsi. Although popular at first, this insane level of caffeine put off many consumers and caused health issues. After a short-lived resurgence in 2017, it doesn’t look like the soda is coming back to life anytime soon.
This sweet fizzy drink certainly didn’t save any lives. Life Savers Soda was created by Wrigley in the 1980s in hopes of becoming as popular as the beloved rainbow-colored hard candies. It came in classic fruit punch, pineapple, orange punch, grape punch, and lime punch flavors. Unsurprisingly, the liquid sugar turned out to be too much for many consumers, and the soft drink was sent to the soda graveyard after a fleeting run in the market.
Over the years, a plethora of root beer brands have sprung up hoping to capture both the hearts and taste buds of consumers. While some have triumphed – we’re looking at you, A&W and Barq’s – the soda market has gobbled up other brands just to spit them out. One notable attempt was Snapple’s recreation called Tru Root Beer. The drink exhibited many of the same attributes as other root beers of the time while containing less sugar with no sodium or caffeine. But, its only distinct difference was that it was crystal clear (reminds us of another long-gone Crystal Pepsi soda). The abnormally colored pop didn’t last too long, and Snapple has since fallen back to what it does best: juice and tea.
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