This post over at BuzzFeed got me googling old soft drinks I spend far too much time thinking about, especially considering how little I drink soda. Still, discontinued products form something of a shared culture of loss that you can discuss with anyone in pretty wide age bracket.
What with the pace of technological and pop cultural innovation, speaking of shared experiences growing up in a generation doesn’t make much sense anymore. The half-life of popular shows, songs, fads is short and these products are targeted at finer and finer slices of the population, especially at slices divvied up by age.
Food and drink, though, while not timeless, at least can be shared alike by a pretty broad range. As for sodas, well, fizzy corn syrup is a fairly universal lust or at least an inescapable fact.
One soda BuzzFeed skipped over that factors into my memories is a Canada-only permutation of Pepsi that split the difference between diet and regular: Pepsi Max. I remember being awed that A: Canadians ate cold, cheeseless pizza as a picnic food (???) and B: For some reason they got better Pepsi that walked a perfect line between tasting like rocket exhaust and instant diabetes. This soda nostalgia is made more difficult by the low vocabulary of PepsiCo’s marketing department, who decided to recycle the name Pepsi Max for a slew of reboots, running the gamut from some kinda cola version of eggnog to the recent high caffeine, ginseng infused, zero-calorie version of the black stuff.
As an aside, is anyone else freaked out by things advertised as having zero calories? Are you guys serious that there is nothing in this that my body can process and burn and yet I’m still drinking it? What’s in here, silicone?
I should also pay tribute to the generosity of the marketers behind Surge for choosing my humble hometown as a test market for their weird Mt. Dew knockoff. For a whole summer, idling Surge trucks were the safer alternative to liplocking with a busted water fountain at schools, parks and really anywhere I could be found rubbing wax on a curb.
Though did anyone ever play any of those capture-the-Surge games depicted in the commercials?