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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

This week, I will continue my From The Vault series.  This week’s subject is timely-discontinued soda.  Recently it was announced that Sierra Mist would be no more.  You could say it’ll be sorely Mist….on we go.

Some sodas have been around for generations and aren’t likely to go anywhere: Coca-Cola Classic, A&W Root Beer, Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Dr. Pepper lovers have little to worry about.  Fan of other drinks aren’t so lucky.  Here are 12 sodas that were discontinued, only to come back after public outcry.

Coca-Cola: For 79 dark days in 1985, Coca Cola vanished from the shelves and was replaced by a new, sweeter product called Coke. That’s right, Coca-Cola tried to kill of its flagship product.  Customers freaked out.  Amidst horrific backlash, per the New York Times, the soda company quickly backtracked and began producing its classic drink again, which has since been called Coca-Cola Classic.

Jolt Cola: This heavily caffeinated soda that was beloved by many in the latter decades of the 20th century did indeed make a comeback, but it was short-lived.  Per Food Drive, after fizzling out in 2005, Jolt was relaunched in 2017 and was sold exclusively at Dollar General stores(and via some online retailers), but the buzzy brand never really caught back on and was officially discontinued.

Next on the list is the one that was just discontinued.  Sierra Mist was originally released in 1999.  It had a facelift and secret formulation change that enraged fans.  The “healthier” citrus soda made with sugar instead of corn syrup was created by Pepsi to compete with Sprite.  In 2016, it lost its healthier formula and adopted high fructose corn syrup and the name Mist Twist.  Two years later, it reverted to Sierra Mist and Pepsi Co. brought back the real sugar.  It has since been replaced with a drink called Starry.  Starry is said to be more lemon and lime-forward than its discontinued predecessor. 

Here's one I haven’t heard of: Bubble Up.  First sold in 1919, Bubble Up was a huge hit for most of the 20th century, but for a moment, in the early ‘70’s, it was gone.  Its parent company, The Bubble Up Corp, had gone bankrupt, per Collector’s Weekly.  Fortunately, in 1973, IC Industries bought the brand and continued production.  In 1987, Dad’s Root Beer Co. bought IC, only to have the brand bought again by Hedinger Brands in 2007.  Through it all, since the ‘70’s, Bubble Up has endured.

Next up was a darling of the ‘90’s: Surge.  Surge soda still has a fan following.  It was discontinued in 2003.  Since 2018, the citrus-flavored soda has been re-released in limited runs at soda fountains and as cans in stores.  Sadly, that seems to be ending again, as the brand’s website reads: Surge will be leaving shelves soon, so you may experience limited availability”. 

The delicious, moderately sweet beverage Clearly Canadian duped us into thinking it was healthy back in the ‘90’s.  Apparently, it was so tasty that people for being soda masquerading as a sweet seltzer.  It disappeared for several years but now you can again get these unique teardrop-shaped bottles of flavor like Mountain Blackberry, Country Raspberry and more.

Crystal Pepsi was never a great idea, but this vaguely Pepsi-flavored, caffeine-free “cola” was weird enough to leave a huge impression on people in the ‘90’s.  Pepsi banked on that impression when, according to FOX, it came out with a very limited run-as in, only 300 people won a six-pack of the soda in a contest-earlier this year.

Coca-Cola with Coffee: This isn’t exactly a comeback story, but rather, a second take on a product that had as many lovers as it did haters when it came out in the early 2000’s.  Coca-Cola’s earlier take on a coffee-cola combo was Coca-Cola Blak, which was only made from 2006-2008.  Coca-Cola with Coffee was discontinued last year.

Original New York Seltzer was founded in 1981 and was beloved by many.  Defunct in the early ‘90’s, this pioneering flavored seltzer brand made a comeback in 2015 and has managed to stick around, thanks to the now vast market for seltzers. 

The grapefruit-flavored soda Fresca was a mainstay of American soft drinks for much of the latter half of the 20th century, but it disappeared awhile a few years ago, which had fans in a frenzy.  The drop in production was due to a shortage of aluminum cans, which led to Fresca’s temporary disappearance. Fresca soon came back in plastic bottle form.

This next one sounds like a bad joke but I swear it’s legit: Jones Soda Turkey and Gravy.  Jones Soda is known for its odd flavors: birthday cake, warheads(sour fruity), Fufu Berry, Dirt Soda, etc-re-released arguably its oddest flavor in time for last Thanksgiving.  It was first seen in 2003.  We end this delightfully odd recollection of discontinued soda with Tianfu Cola.  For a few decades, Tianfu Cola( aka Tianfu Kele) was a favorite soda in China, even served at state dinners.  Then, as the People’s Republic opened up to the west, in came Coke and Pepsi, each of which earned a huge market share-the latter of which bought out the rights to state-owned Tianfu and quashed production.  As China grew more powerful in renect years, the company sued Pepsi for unlawful possession of its trade secrets, wo, and soon went back into production.  It’s now widely available again, per iChong Qing.(

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