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How Many of These Classic '90s Drinks Did You Try?

John Bridges is a published author of history, and politics. His doctorate is in criminal justice.

'90s drinks: Which ones did you try?

'90s drinks: Which ones did you try?

Orbitz: Out of this World Grossness

Whoever said, “what this drink needs are some mysterious gooey balls of gelatin”? Orbitz seemed to think it was a great idea, and truly, even those who were not enticed to purchase the product certainly noticed the bottles. It was marketed as a “texturally enhanced alternative beverage,” but most consumers just called it gross. The website’s welcome message did not help with marketing; “Prepare to embark on a tour into the bowels of the Orbiterium.” What on Earth were they thinking? Meeting the demands of nostalgia, it has returned on a limited basis.

This concept was truly out of this world.

This concept was truly out of this world.

Zima: You Can Almost Taste the Beer

Zima is forever a drink that will be associated with the 90s, although it was revived several times after that decade. It was produced by Coors and was marketed as though it was a wine cooler. When the successful Bartles and Jaymes product left the market due to increased production costs, there was a void. Zima intended to fill that void. The quality of the product was quite poor in comparison. Rather than use natural juice and fine wines, Zima was a malt beverage. Basically, it was a high-alcohol content beer that was filtered to remove the flavor and color of the beer. The reminder was a vile clear alcohol that was combined with artificial flavorings and preservatives to create Zima. The process reduced production costs dramatically.

The desired demographic was college-aged men, who traditionally drank the most during that era. The product was, for the most part, shunned by that group but was purchased mainly by women. The trend continued until Zima was thought of by consumers as being a drink exclusively for women. In one final attempt to attract the more lucrative male demographic, Zima briefly introduced Zima Gold, a brown drink that was supposed to have a flavor like Bourbon. It was not a hit.

It was cheap, but it was no wine cooler.

It was cheap, but it was no wine cooler.

Surge: Go Nuts!

While most colas of the time had caffeine, most citrus sodas did not. Surge was highly caffeinated and marketed itself to college males. The commercials were laden with testosterone-driven actors who were constantly competing to reach the can of Surge first. Initially, it was a hit with the desired demographic, but in time, people realized the product simply did not taste very good.

This product was Coca-Cola’s attempt to compete with Pepsi’s successful Mountain Dew products. It also promoted the fact that it contained quite a few carbohydrates, thus stored energy. The product was discontinued but was re-released on a limited basis in 2014. It is currently available through Amazon.

Caffeine....Carbs....Sugar...What could go wrong?

Caffeine....Carbs....Sugar...What could go wrong?

Crystal Pepsi: A Gimmick That Was Ahead of It’s Time

Crystal Pepsi was a short-lived soda that flopped spectacularly but, due to nostalgia, has been resurrected today. The product was trying to cash in on creating soda that was perceived to be healthier due to only natural ingredients and no artificial colors. The taste was not the same as regular Pepsi. The marketing never quite made it clear to consumers why they should have an interest in this product. Although unique, consumers collectively equated the color brown with cola and clear with citrus drinks. It was difficult for many to make the mental switch to a clear cola (and one without caffeine).

The final nail in the coffin came from a planned self-sabotage Coca-Cola campaign. Coke produced a clear version of Tab, which they purposefully planned to fail. Their hope was the death of clear Tab would also be the death of Crystal Pepsi, and it was. Watch the original commercial and see if you get it.

Apple Sourz: Pour, Shoot, Repeat

Apple Sourz was a very popular shot in 1990s bars. It had a decent taste and could easily be mixed into a variety of cocktails. The packaging used special ink that would glow in the dark, which made it stand out in dark bars with black lighting. The apple version has lived on, but several other flavors (blackcurrant, peach, and pineapple) did not survive. Sourz is a fruit-flavored liqueur produced by Jim Beam.

A yummy and safe shot popular in the 90s.

A yummy and safe shot popular in the 90s.

Aftershock/Avalanche: Pour, Shoot, Regret

Aftershock and Avalanche were strong cinnamon liqueurs that became very popular in the 90s. It is a product of Jim Beam. The two are still available, but their popularity has waned due to many other competing products that were not quite as harsh on the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines of the consumer.

One of the cooler marketing devices was the ever-growing crystals that developed inside the bottle. Those who drank this drink usually started out on a dare, and most drank it as a shot. There are, however many mixed drinks that can be made with these liqueurs that are tamer and easier to enjoy.

Some drinks are only consumed on a dare.

Some drinks are only consumed on a dare.

© 2018 Dr John Bridges