12 Discontinued Products From Coca-Cola and Pepsi
You’ve most likely heard of the grand (and failed) experiments that were New Coke and Crystal Pepsi. But throughout the years, both the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have played around with their product lines, resulting in a number of other short-lived, now-discontinued soft drinks. Here are 12 examples.
In 1993, Coca-Cola wanted to capitalize on the growing counterculture movement associated with the cynical members of “Generation X.” Marketing executive Sergio Zyman came up with OK Soda, which was a soft drink intended to appeal to the movement’s anti-corporate sensibilities. (Although to this day, some conspiracy theorists believe OK Soda was a plot by the CIA to endear corporate America to Gen Xers, thereby making them more conservative.) OK Soda had its own manifesto and “unconventional” marketing campaign that revolved around the idea that “Things are going to be OK.” The soda company even hired alternative cartoonists Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) and Charles Burns (Black Hole) to design soda cans and commercials for the brand. Sadly, Coca-Cola pulled the plug after sales fell short of expectations in most of its test markets in 1995. Today, OK Soda cans and box art can be found on eBay for about $50 a can.
Fun fact: Sergio Zyman was the same executive who launched New Coke in 1985.
2. Lemon-Lime Slice
Pepsi introduced Lemon-Lime Slice in an effort to compete with 7-Up and Coca-Cola’s Sprite in 1984. Sales of the original Slice were so strong that Pepsi introduced more flavors and varieties, such as Apple, Fruit Punch, Grape, Passionfruit, Peach Glaze, Mandarin Orange, Pineapple, Strawberry, Cherry Cola, “Red,” Cherry-Lime, and Dr. Slice—Pepsi’s answer to Dr. Pepper. In May 1987 Slice had 3.2% of the soda market, but a little over a year later that dropped to below 2 percent. The problem was it was relatively expensive to produce, and Coca-Cola was able to come out with a competing product (Minute Maid Orange soda) that was cheaper to make and customers simply preferred the taste of. Although some varieties of Slice are available at soda fountains, the original Lemon-Lime Slice was discontinued and replaced with Pepsi’s Sierra Mist in 2003.
In 1969, Coca-Cola introduced a carbonated, non-alcoholic apéritif for the Italian market called Beverly. (Apéritifs are generally alcoholic beverages served before a meal in order to stimulate one’s appetite.) Beverly remained on shelves throughout the country for 30 years, but was discontinued when the company consolidated its Italian bottling facilities in 2009. Interested in sampling some? The sophisticated soda is available at various World of Coca-Cola museums throughout the United States. A word of warning, however: Americans are generally not used to its bitter taste, so you may not be a fan. (YouTube is full of funny reactions to Beverly soda.)
4. Mountain Dew Sport
After extensive test marketing in 1989, Pepsi introduced Mountain Dew Sport the following year. The beverage was a Mountain Dew-flavored sports drink with only two calories. Its diet counterpart was available with no calories, but with the same Mountain Dew taste. Pepsi created Mountain Dew Sport to compete with Gatorade, but discontinued it due to low sales in 1991. That same year, the company came back with All Sport, a slightly reformulated version of Mountain Dew Sport, which Pepsi sold throughout the ‘ 90s. However, when Pepsi purchased Gatorade in 2001, they made a deal with the FTC that they’d sell off All Sport in an effort to increase competition in the market. They sold it to a small manufacturer, who got bought by Big Red, who made a deal with the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which relaunched All Sport in 2009 . Which means technically, you can still purchase the soda grandchild of Mountain Dew Sport.
5. Coca-Cola C2
At the height of the low-carb diet craze, Coca-Cola brought Coca-Cola C2 to the Japanese, American, and Canadian markets in 2004. The new soft drink boasted half the sugar, calories, and carbohydrates of regular Coca-Cola, and to hawk it, the company launched an aggressive ad campaign with radio and TV spots featuring Queen’s “I Want To Break Free” and The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” But after a few years of disappointing sales, Coca-Cola discontinued C2 in 2007.
6. Pepsi Wild Bunch
During the summer of 1991, Pepsi released three new flavors that it claimed enhanced the taste of its flagship soda. Dubbed Pepsi Wild Bunch, the soft drink attempted to capture the taste of summer with Strawberry Burst, Tropical Chill, and Raging Razzberry. One major downside: Pepsi Wild Bunch came in a three-pack, so if you were craving just one flavor, too bad: you were stuck with two more. The beverage was only made available in a few test markets throughout the United States, until Pepsi discontinued it less than a year later.
7. Sprite Remix
In 2003, Coca-Cola introduced Sprite Remix to cater to what marketing execs saw as an “emerging” hip-hop and DJ remix subculture. The beverage was similar to regular Sprite, but with an added citrus or fruit kick. Sprite Remix was eventually available in three varieties: Tropical, Berryclear, and Aruba Jam.
Coca-Cola later released a “do-it-yourself” version of Sprite Remix, which featured a flavor packet with a can of regular Sprite. Those flavors included Grape, Vanilla, and Cherry. Sprite Remix was discontinued due to poor sales in 2005. But this year, reports came out that in certain markets, Sprite Tropical—dropping the “Remix,” apparently—was back on store shelves in parts of the southeastern U.S.
8. Pepsi Natural
In 2008, Pepsi debuted Pepsi Natural, a soda free of artificial flavoring, colorings, preservatives, and sweeteners. Made with lightly sparkling water, the beverage boasted natural caramel, apple extract, kola nut extract, and natural sugar cane instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Pepsi Natural was even packaged in a sleek 12-ounce glass bottle and was only available in premium grocery stores and natural food aisles. Pepsi Natural, similar to Pepsi Raw in the United Kingdom, was discontinued in 2010, due to—you guessed it—poor sales.
To compete with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew, Coca-Cola started stocking American grocery stores with Vault (and other Vault varieties) in 2005. Vault was a citrus soda and energy drink hybrid marketed primarily towards teenage boys and young men. In 2006, Vault was a big part of the Super Bowl XL pregame show with a number of TV spots declaring that it “Drinks like a soda, kicks like an energy drink.” Coca-Cola also produced Vault Zero, Grape Vault, Peach Vault, and Vault Red Blitz before discontinuing the entire beverage line in 2011.
10. Diet Pepsi Jazz
Introduced in 2006, Diet Pepsi Jazz was a diet soda available in three different flavors: Black Cherry and French Vanilla, Strawberries and Cream, and Caramel Cream. Pepsi announced that the soft drink was “The New Sound of Cola” in its ad campaign, before discontinuing the jazzy new addition in 2009.
11. Coca-Cola BlāK
Ever wish your soda tasted more like coffee? For a brief period of time starting in 2006, Coca-Cola made your dream a reality by releasing the coffee-flavored Coca-Cola BlāK. The beverage company worked for two years developing the recipe in the hopes of tapping into the premium coffee market. Coca-Cola officially discontinued Coca-Cola BlāK in 2007, but continued to sell off its remaining stock into the following year.
Pepsi, for its part, sold coffee-flavored sodas Pepsi Kona and Pepsi Cappuccino in a few test markets during the ’90s.
12. Pepsi A.M.
To capitalize on the growing soda-as-coffee-substitute trend in the ’80s, Pepsi released Pepsi A.M. in 1989. A soft drink meant to be consumed during breakfast, Pepsi boasted that it featured 28% more caffeine than regular Pepsi (which was still 77% less than coffee). Pepsi A.M. was discontinued due to low sales in 1990.
The Coca-Cola Company never released a “morning” variety of Coca-Cola, but the soft drink multinational began hawking the idea of soda for breakfast with a “Coca-Cola in the Morning” marketing campaign.