Sodas are a cultural staple of the summer. While there are many varieties and flavors on the market, sadly, some of them don’t last and are discontinued. While we mourn for the loss of these sodas, let’s relive the best ones as we look at 10 Discontinued Sodas We Miss.
This discontinued soda was one of Pepsi’s first forays outside of the standard cola, making its appearance in the early 60s. Its name was reminiscent of sinking into a chair on the shade on a warm summer’s day; it was the perfect drink to take with you into the summer season. Specifically a diet soda, Patio was marketed as an alternative soda for diabetics. A year after its conception, Patio released three new flavors: orange, grape, and root beer. Advertising for it was relatively scarce and stuck primarily to local regions, making its way into some grocery stores and “mom and pop” shops. An interesting aspect of Patio’s legacy is how it contributed to the “diet” culture. It was part of Pepsi’s “diet” brand, yet never explicitly used the word diet in its slogans. One of the company’s earliest slogans implied that “The girls girl-watchers watch, drink Diet Pepsi”, painting a picture to, particularly female consumers that, not only would this drink keep them more slim and desirable, but that this particular fizzy soda was accessible to all health-conscious consumers. Despite its relative success and impact on the new diet soda world, Patio’s name was switched to Diet Pepsi and advertised alongside the main brand. Most of Patio’s flavors were phased out by the early to mid-1970s and the drink has not been seen since.
9. Pepsi Blue
Another Pepsi item on our list of discontinued sodas. This bright blue soda was launched by Pepsi in mid-2002. Over a nine-month period, over one hundred flavors were tested until they settled on the final “berry” flavor. According to drinkers, it was blueberry or raspberry, with a similar taste to cotton candy. The drink’s signature blue color was brought to the table after Mountain Dew released its Code Red drink in 2001. The bright red drink resulted in a huge jump in sales for Mountain Dew. The blue color for Pepsi Blue came from the coloring agent Blue 1, which was controversial and was actually banned in many countries at the time. The drink was heavily promoted by Pepsi, including an advertisement by Britney Spears, as well as advertising through movies such as The Italian Job and Garfield: The Movie. The drink also inspired Jolt Cola to create a similar cotton candy style and flavor beverage called Jolt Blue CX2. Despite the high volume and celebrity endorsement, Pepsi Blue was seen as a commercial flop. It was eventually discontinued in North America. However, it remained in the Philippines and was re-released in the UK recently.
8. OK Soda
As the 1990s counterculture made traction, Coca-Cola saw an opportunity to capitalize. Ok Soda was the result. This was part of the hipster movement of its time. It even had quotation marks around the word “beverage” on the can! The artwork on the can was courtesy of underground comics artists Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns. The advertising mainly consists of a stereotypical radio announcer telling, in a somewhat bored and condescending tone, random stories and ending said stories with the promise that “everything is going to be ok”. The quotes inserted on the rim of the can are in the same vein: “Please wake up every morning knowing that things are going to be OK” and “What’s the point of OK? Well, what’s the point of anything?” Seeing any parallels with Millennial nihilism yet? This soda might have been before its time. This product also had “prize cans” that were inserted into select vending machines. These prizes included some form of Ok merchandise and two extra quarters to buy another can. The prize can had a slightly different design: more cylindrical in shape, significantly lighter due to the lack of liquid content and had a light blue banner. Unfortunately, when sales fell shorter than expected, Coca-Cola put this product to bed. Apparently, cans with Clowes and Burns’ artwork can be found on eBay as collector’s items. The asking price for this product starts off at about a few hundred US dollars!
Another soda that was following the energy drink route was released to a limited test-market. It saw its release on a national scale in February 2006. A citrus-flavored beverage, it contained many of the same ingredients as Surge and had a similar “extreme sports” ad campaign. It featured men performing formidable feats while drinking Vault; such as a man building a robotic scarecrow with laser eyes that rids his farm of unwanted guests. Another commercial had a man using an explosive and a chainsaw to convert his and a neighbor’s backyards into football fields. The slogan “Vault. Get to it!” followed the same “edgy” and “hardcore” message that Surge used. A sister product, Vault Red Blitz was released in early 2007 as competition to Pepsi’s Code Red. An attempt at another product, Vault Zero, resulted in a reformulation after a lawsuit suggested that certain ingredients in the drink, when combined, would create the carcinogen, benzene. The product was discontinued in 2011 so that the company could focus on the new and improved Mello Yello, a similar highly caffeinated drink. Coca Cola was responsible for this release as well and was marketed as yet another energy drink.
This fruit drink, as opposed to the other drinks on this list, is not carbonated. It was created by the Clearly Food & Beverage Company of Canada. Made with small edible balls and having a similar design to a lava lamp, Orbitz was marketed as a texturally enhanced alternative beverage. In a similar fashion to bubble tea, the small balls floating in the beverage were made of gellan gum, allowing them to float in the liquid due to similar compounds to those found in spider webs. According to one article, this drink was doomed from the start. Its slogan, for one thing, was “The drink with balls”. This already may have dissuaded consumers and marketers from engaging with the product. In an attempt to make the drink more pleasing, they attempted a space-themed campaign with the headline “Prepare to embark on a tour into the bowels of the Orbiterium”. The word “bowels” may not have been the best choice. The fact that it was a flat beverage and not a carbonated one also made labeling the drink difficult. A year after its creation and release, due to poor reception, the drink was pulled from markets. Within the last six years, the drink came back into the public domain. Clearly Canadian stated that they were considering, for nostalgia’s sake, producing a limited line of products with the possibility of annual releases, if the response was positive. Collectors of the drink have paid upwards of $30 and $100 for single, unopened bottles and whole cases, respectively.
This is another one of Coca Cola’s citrus-flavored drinks that came into being in the 1990s as direct competition to Mountain Dew. It was originally launched as Urge in Norway and, due to intense popularity, was released in the United States, with an extra letter, to boot! The drink became associated with an extreme sports lifestyle, similar to Mountain Dew. In order to pull in consumers away from Pepsi’s products, catchphrases associated with a more hardcore and edgy lifestyle were used. Examples of this were “Feed the Rush”, “Life’s a Scream” and, as a description of the drink itself “A Fully Loaded Citrus Soda”. The drink had a successful run until 2003 when, due to a drop in sales, the drink was pulled from most markets. A little over a decade later, due to clamoring by the consumers, Coca-Cola re-released the drink via Amazon Prime. It was then re-released in convenience stores in the Eastern United States and some Mountain states. The drink enjoyed an international re-release in a slushy form in Burger King restaurants. Fans of the drink can follow the journey of Surge’s comeback by following @SURGE and @BurgerKing on Twitter.
4. Coca-Cola Blak
Coca Cola Blak was the soda company’s foray into the coffee industry. It was first introduced in France. Subsequently, the drink was released in other Eastern European countries, such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Lithuania. A simultaneous launch happened in the United States. The French and Canadian versions were sweetened with sugar, while the US version was sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium. According to testers of the French version, there was more of a coffee taste and less of a sugar taste. Unfortunately, the following year, it was announced that the drink would be discontinued within the US. However, pulling inspiration from the drink, the largest Coke dispenser in Latin America released coffee dispensers in Mexico under the same name. Recently, Coca-Cola announced that it would be releasing a line of coffee-related products across 25 different markets. The new drink, which contains less sugar than a Coke, is arriving amidst a movement of change in consumer behavior when it comes to the consumption of sugary drinks.
This cola drink was originally created by the Jolt Company Inc. in the 1980s. This drink ‘s selling point was its high caffeine content and was used as a way to promote being awake. Its target audience was students and young adults, emphasizing its similarity to energy drinks. Its slogan “All the sugar and twice the caffeine” corroborated this, as well as its distinct battery shaped bottles. Two years later, a low-calorie version was brought to the table called Jolt 25. The latter had many flavors such as Cherry Bomb, Citrus Climax, Orange Blast, and Red Eye. A line of caffeinated gum and mints was released under the company, Gumrunners. The slogan “Chew More, Do More” also followed the theme of energy and stimulation. A few years later and the Jolt Company filed for bankruptcy, following a dispute with its supplier about the pricing. In 2017, it was confirmed that Jolt Cola would return to Dollar General stores. However, it’s not the same as the original and we miss that ‘in your face’ approach to soda drinks.
2. 7 Up Gold
This soda was a matchmaking venture between 7 Up and Dr Pepper. The recipe was initially Dr Pepper’s but, after the two companies merged, 7 Up took on the challenge of creating it. With hints of ginger, apple, and cinnamon, as well as its darker hue, 7 Up Gold was released to the masses in the late 80s. It faced major hurdles in the marketing department from the get-go. At the time, 7 Up was pushing the slogan “Never Had It, Never Will”, referring to caffeine in its drinks. Take a wild guess what was in 7 Up Gold? But this was only the tip of the iceberg as far as hurdles this creation faced. According to the 7-Up Bottling Company president Roger Easley, “The product was misunderstood by the consumer.” He then explained how consumers of 7-Up were thrown off by the darker color of the soda, as well as the aforementioned caffeine. This incident opens up a discussion about the level of difficulty when it comes to creating a new product in the soda industry. Coca Cola, spent around $40 million a year to advertise DietCoke. This product was a success, but most others are not so lucky.
1. Crystal Pepsi
This 1990s soda was known for its transparent colorless look. This was related to a marketing fad of the time called the “Clear Craze”, which likened clarity with purity. Wanting to jump on the coattails of this fad, Crystal Pepsi was marketed as a caffeine-free “clear” alternative to their other sodas. Crystal Pepsi was first sold in Europe before being tested in the US. After acquiring positive results from test markets in Sacramento, Dallas, and Providence, the soda was released to the national public. Crystal Pepsi saw its demise at the hands of Coca-Cola’s Tab Clear soda. What was interesting about the latter product is that it was a “kamikaze” product, an unpopular and misleading product with the sole goal of taking itself and Crystal Pepsi off the market. Coca-Cola’s chief marketing officer, Sergio Zyman, stated that they marketed Tab as a “sugar-free” diet drink, as well as medicinal. The result was Pepsi pulling their clear drink off the market in late 1993, with select retailers receiving the last few batches in early 1994. Crystal Pepsi has since seen a call for a revival recently following an online campaign. Competitive eating personality, Kevin Strahle, made a viral video drinking a vintage bottle of Crystal Pepsi. This lead to a Change.org petition with 27, 000 signatures, tens of thousands of tagged comments across various social media platforms and 15 billboards set up across the Los Angeles area. Crystal Pepsi was officially re-released in the US in August 2018 and for a limited time in Canada. There are some drinks that always remain on a consumer’s mind and if they are lucky they sometimes see them back on the shelves again for a limited time. Crystal Pepsi was one such item but we know it can’t last forever.