The soda market has always been competitive, with numerous brands fighting each other to come up with the next big thing. However, sometimes these wacky ideas end in disasters of epic proportion, which have left their mark on history as being some of the funniest failures in beverage history. Grab a fizzy drink and prepare to be grossed out by the Top 10 DISGUSTING Beverage FAILS!
10. Dr. Pepper Ten
This beverage was disgusting for all the wrong reasons. At first glance, it seems unassuming enough; a version of Dr. Pepper that contains only ten calories, giving it its name. However, where this soda giant went horribly, horribly wrong was in the marketing campaign for Dr. Pepper Ten released in 2011. The slogan for the drink flat-out said that the soda was not for women while telling ladies to keep their romantic comedies and lady drinks. At first, many people assumed Dr. Pepper Ten was some kind of joke or publicity stunt, with the campaign making headlines all across the Internet when it was first released. Though it makes total sense for Dr. Pepper to offer a more masculine alternative to the perceived “feminine” diet soda market, people were angered by the seemingly sexist claims Dr. Pepper was making with this launch. Besides, with good old Diet Dr. Pepper already being a thing, was it really necessary to make a gimmicky ten-calorie alternative specifically for men? It would’ve made more sense to simply rebrand Diet Dr. Pepper to be more friendly to both men and women – not that it makes much sense for something as universally enjoyable as soda to exclude either gender, anyway. Because of the controversy surrounding the product, it hasn’t been widely available for years now – you can however still buy Dr. Pepper Ten in bulk online, but it has been discontinued in storefronts where sales were poor.
9. Tab Clear
You might be familiar with Pepsi Clear, a 1990s classic soda that was brought back briefly in recent years to invoke nostalgia with Pepsi customers. However, you might not know that Coca-Cola was trying to hop onto this clear soda trend as well, and the results were pretty subpar. If you didn’t know already, Tab is pretty much a different version of Coca-Cola that is flavored with saccharin instead of the sweeteners used in Coca-Cola’s flagship beverage. Since Tab is mostly known for its weird aftertaste and odd cult following, reactions were pretty lackluster when Coca-Cola released Tab Clear in the early 1990s as a means of staying on-trend with what was popular at the time. Unlike Pepsi Clear, Tab Clear contained caffeine, which was likely what Coca-Cola thought would be its big selling point among the clear sodas. However, like all trends, the fad died out, and Tab Clear was taken off the shelves by 1994, after two years of poor sales. Looking back on the short history of this beverage, it’s a wonder how it managed to stay afloat for that long in the first place: not only was Tab already a mediocre knockoff of Coca-Cola, but the clear soda fad was definitely not something that would maintain customer interest for very long, especially in the 1990s, where junk food companies were constantly trying to outdo one another’s wacky gimmicks.
8. Dr. Pepper Red Fusion
Making their second appearance on this list, Dr. Pepper released Red Fusion in 2002 as a way to hopefully expand their flavor lineup after keeping it the same for over a century. They also wanted to compete with other sodas that decided to branch out, such as Pepsi Blue and 7-Up’s dnL. Dr. Pepper’s Red Fusion was advertising as having a predominantly cherry flavor, with a bunch of other fruit flavors mixed in. However, it never really took off, and was taken off the shelves in 2004 due to poor sales. With cherry sodas selling generally well over the years, the failure of Dr. Pepper Red Fusion may have been because of the mix of the other undisclosed fruit flavors lingering behind it. If they had made Red Fusion a purely cherry soda and marketed it well enough, they likely could have convinced their following to give Red Fusion a try. Not to mention, with Dr. Pepper already being a love-it-or-hate-it kind of soda, they probably should have stuck to their guns and maintained their already unique soft drink status.
7. OK Soda
With a name like OK Soda, it’s no wonder that this drink received a lackluster response. After Coca-Cola appointed Sergio Zyman to be the chief of marketing for Coca-Cola – even after Zyman had worked on the dumpster fire that was New Coke, which we’ll talk about later – and seeing his success in rebranding Coca-Cola and Diet Coke to fit the growing and changing market, they allowed him to use unconventional marketing methods to really make their products stand out. Zyman came up with the idea for OK Soda and was so confident in the idea that he promised the Coca-Cola executives that the beverage would occupy 4% of the United States market. Instead of hyping his beverage up, Zyman did the exact opposite: marketing his soda products as “OK” as a means to underwhelm the customer, only for them to be blown away by the flavor – at least, in theory. Advertised as having a unique and fruity taste, OK Soda was released to test markets across the USA in the summer of 1993, with the beverage never even taking more than 3% of the beverage market in the select location, despite Zyman’s confidence that OK Soda would surely be the next big thing for sodas. Coca-Cola scrapped it only seven months after its initial release. Though OK Soda’s interesting and unconventional marketing strategies could work nowadays, it likely didn’t match up to the wacky and exciting soft drinks of its time, which was one of the many reasons for its failure.
6. Coca-Cola Blak
Despite the fact that “Blak” is spelled without a “c,” Coca-Cola Blak was a coffee-flavored version of the famous cola beverage. Although lots of crazy cola flavors come from North America, Coca-Cola Blak was first introduced in France before making its way to the U.S. market in 2006. At first, you may not think much of flavored cola; if you’ve ever been to the movie theater or even Wendy’s, you know that adding flavors into Coca-Cola is a common practice, with some flavors such as vanilla, cherry, and orange making their way into the spotlight for their unique and delicious taste. However, this coffee combo just didn’t fly when it was introduced, and it was removed from Coca-Cola’s lineup in 2008. This might have been because the French version of Coca-Cola Blak used regular cane sugar, while the US version used aspartame, acesulfame potassium (whatever that is), and other artificial sweeteners, which likely impacted the taste. However, Coca-Cola might be onto something with the combination of coffee and cola, which has maintained notoriety in countries outside North America for a while now. Despite the failure of Coca-Cola Blak, the cola and coffee combo might make a new-and-improved comeback, with rumors of international favorite “Coke with Coffee” making an appearance in North American markets next year.
5. Mr. Green
Have you ever seen SoBe on the shelves of your local grocery store or deli? As it turns out, this brand is a subsidiary of Pepsico, and actually tried to release its own soda in 2002. The soda was called Mr. Green and was, as the name suggests, nauseatingly green in color. The taste of the soda itself didn’t seem too bad: with the beverage being infused with ginseng, there was a possibility that Mr. Green could introduce a new flavor element to the beverage market usually found only in teas and juices at the time of its release. However, the green color, paired with the marketing campaign that used the SoBe lizard as its mascot, didn’t sit right with consumers. Production for Mr. Green halted in 2003, proving that SoBe likely just wasn’t meant to be a soda brand. It’s sad to see a beverage with potential get discontinued, but it wasn’t Mr. Green’s taste that led to its downfall; rather, it was the marketing of what could’ve been a tasty drink that made it unsuccessful. With a company like SoBe often making fruit juices and teas, it would make sense for Pepsico to take a more natural approach instead of trying to market Mr. Green the same way one would market an energy drink. Mr. Green serves as a cautionary tale of the importance of marketing, and how crucial it is to make a beverage look as good as it tastes.
4. 7-Up Gold
7-Up is known for its sweet and citrusy flavor, but the company was trying to branch out to please other tastes in 1987. After merging with soda giant Dr. Pepper that same year, the executives in charge of Dr. Pepper wanted to expand 7-Up’s flavor profile. 7-Up Gold was described to have a “cinnamon-spicy” taste, which was basically dead on arrival; the drink was discontinued after less than a year of it being released, with the chief executive at 7-Up even admitting that their attempt at a new soda flavor was a failure. Though cinnamon is a polarizing flavor, the people who love it really love it, and 7-Up Gold could have gotten a solid cult following if it hadn’t failed so quickly. With a soda like 7-Up being known for its crisp, fresh, lemon-lime taste, switching to cinnamon for their alternative flavor was pretty much doing the complete opposite of what they were known for. 7-Up Gold was a complete 180 from its original flavor, which likely scared customers off – even the few of them who actually liked the idea of cinnamon soda. If 7-Up had pulled a Sprite and came out with a Cranberry version of their signature beverage, it likely would have seen more success, seeing as cranberry is unique but still fits into the lemon-lime soda realm. 7-Up has since come out with a Cherry version of their soda, which has been met with positive responses from customers. Looks like they learned from their mistake!
Not to be confused with Orbit chewing gum, Orbitz looks pretty cool at first. When released in the late 1990s, the drink’s gimmick was that it resembled a lava lamp, which were also pretty popular during that time. However, things start to get a little dicey when you look at the actual composition of an Orbitz soda, which was essentially a soda that had tiny chunks of food in it. This only gets worse when the company that made this abomination, called The Clearly Food & Beverage Company of Canada, labeled Orbitz as a “texturally enhanced alternative beverage.” Seriously, could they have chosen a worse way to promote this product? The words “texturally enhanced” did no favors to redeem Orbitz of the negative responses they were receiving, and it eventually got taken off the shelves due to poor sales in 1998 – only a year after the product was originally released. Since then, they’ve practically been wiped off the face of the earth, as if they never even really existed. However, some people have reportedly sold unopened bottles of Orbitz soda on eBay for inflated prices to curious collectors who want something interesting and unconventional to sit on their shelves. As a collector’s item, it makes sense; you’d be much better off using this soda as a fun conversation starter than as an actual refreshment.
2. Hubba Bubba Soda
We may know the Hubba Bubba brand for their classic chewy bubble gum, but they actually tried to branch out into soda in the 1980s – with little success. Since bubble gum is for chewing and not for drinking, it comes as no surprise that this soda all but vanished in the years after its release, as it was flavored exactly like Hubba Bubba’s flagship product. Creator Steve Roeder used snow cone syrup to come up with Hubba Bubba Soda. The idea may have been good in theory, but was absolutely disastrous in execution; with the soda only lasting about a year or two before it was discontinued. During its short lifespan, Hubba Bubba Soda even had a Diet version — you know, for the people who wanted to drink their bubblegum without all those pesky calories. Not to mention, the label on the can was bubblegum-pink, which was likely as a means to jog the customer’s memory of Hubba Bubba bubblegum; however, it looked a lot more like Pepto-Bismol on the outside than a delicious, refreshing soft drink. There are just so many things that are wrong with this; from drinking something that you should be chewing to the fact that they made a diet version of something that didn’t even taste good in the first place. With that being said, Hubba Bubba Soda would be the perfect addition to any vintage soda fan’s collection; with eBay listings being as high as two hundred dollars, it’ll cost quite a pretty penny for you to get your hands on this infamously gross soda.
1. New Coke
Is anyone surprised that New Coke would make the top of this list? What is widely known as the biggest misstep of Coca-Cola’s history has been made fun of countless times on the internet and in pop culture, so it’s no wonder that it takes the top slot. New Coke was Coca-Cola’s way of competing with longtime rival Pepsi, which was gaining traction at the time. In an effort to keep up with their biggest enemy and to maintain consumer interest, Coca-Cola reformulated their famous soda in 1985, labeling it as New Coke. Hardcore fans of Coca-Cola were livid when they found out that their favorite soda was getting an extreme makeover, and New Coke was removed from store shelves only three months after its initial launch, making it one of the most short-lived sodas in history. Although New Coke gets a lot of hate for being a subpar version of the original Coca-Cola, some people actively sought it out after it was discontinued. New Coke was actually sold in some foreign markets — under the pseudonym Coke II, likely as a way to mask the fact that it had a history of a failed product – until production stopped in 2002. However, this likely won’t be the last we see of New Coke: since it has sentimental value among people who grew up during the 1980’s, we might be seeing it for some special occasions, seeing as it was re-released for a limited time in collaboration with the widely successful Netflix series Stranger Things in 2019.