Discontinued Sodas: Hits and Misses We Want Back

The world has seen many, many soda flavors over the years. We still have the classic Coca-Cola many soda lovers known and love, but there are countless brands people have said goodbye to. Some varieties were ill-fated as limited-edition flavors, while others were discontinued due to unpopularity and low sales.

Some fizzled out instantaneously, some suffered slow deaths. And one iconic brand is now joining the ranks of discontinued sodas.

Tab

discontinued sodas

Tab is the most recent victim to make the list. It was introduced in the 1960s as Coca-Cola’s first venture into diet soda. After a 57-year run, Tab is now joining the ever-growing list of discontinued sodas. The decision comes after years of decreasing sales due to the popularity of Coca-Cola’s Diet Coke and the recent coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re forever grateful to TaB for paving the way for the diets and lights category, and to the legion of TaB lovers who have embraced the brand for nearly six decades,” Kerri Kopp, the group director for Diet Coke at Coca-Cola North America, said in a press release. “If not for TaB, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar. TaB did its job.”

It certainly did, and will now live on in the hearts of many soda lovers, just like these many other discontinued sodas.

Tab Clear

Tab Clear was Coca-Cola’s contribution to the “clear cola” movement during the early 1990s.

It contained caffeine, making it stand out among other clear soft drinks, and was advertised to have the same flavor as cola. The drink fizzled out far more quickly than Tab did — it survived a single year.

Tab Energy

Tab Energy was marketed as a low-calorie energy drink for the existing Tab brand. It was a pink “sweet and sour” beverage, which many described as a liquid Jolly Rancher. The drink had 95 milligrams of caffeine and five calories, with the original Tab having 31 milligrams of caffeine and less than one calorie. 

They were targeted toward a female market with the slogan “Fuel to be fabulous.” The brand was gone from store shelves by 2008. 

Tab Energy was hardly the only discontinued energy soda in the world. Keep scrolling for more…

Discontinued, High-Energy Sodas

Kick

Kick was a citrus soda produced by Royal Crown Company, Inc. in 1965 as a potential competitor to PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew. Its tagline? “The hardcore, psycho, nitro drink in a can!”

Kick was ambitious in its marketing to those involved with extreme sports, punk and video game subcultures to mimic Sprite’s success with hip hop and streetball culture.

It was discontinued in 2002 when Royal Crown was acquired by Cadbury Schweppes. Disclaimer: Tescos’ British energy drink that is still on the market has nothing to do with this defunct soda. 

Josta

Josta was the first energy drink ever introduced by a major US beverage company (Pepsi Co). Its flavor was predominantly fruit with a touch of spice and key ingredient guarana. Guarana seeds, which have about twice the concentration of caffeine that coffee seeds do, was the basis for Josta’s marketing as a “high-energy” drink.

It was discontinued after four years of production in 1999.   

Jolt Cola

Jolt Cola was created in 1987 by C.J Rapp as a highly caffeinated beverage. Its targeted audience was students and young professionals, stressing its use as a stimulant in a similar manner as energy drinks. Its slogan? “All the sugar and twice the caffeine!” 

In 2009, it was rebranded as Jolt Energy, coming in multiple flavors like Power Cola, Orange Burst, Wired Grape, Cherry Bomb, and Silver. 

You’d think familiar flavors would help a soda survive — and they often do. Unless they’re from popular candy brands…

Discontinued Candy-Flavored Sodas

Hubba Bubba Soda

Why chew your Hubba Bubba gum when you can drink it instead? That’s what The Wrigley Company was thinking when they jumped into the soda market with Hubba Bubba soda. The bubble-gum soda came out in the 1980s and, unsurprisingly, didn’t last long. 

Life Savers Soda 

Hubba Bubba wasn’t the only sweet treat to flavor soda back in the day. Life Savers-flavored soda was first introduced in the 1980s and mimicked the candy flavors: pineapple, grape punch, lime punch, orange punch, and fruit punch.

Just like Hubba Bubba soda, this launch didn’t see success in sales either, leading to its discontinuation. 

Even popular franchise names can’t help some sodas survive. For example…

Franchise-Inspired, Discontinued Sodas

Mario Soft Drink 

What’s better than soda specifically created for gamers? Nothing, probably, for Mario fans. Mario Soft Drink was produced by Shasta Cola company and each can featured a Mario character with their own special flavors: Yoshi Apple, Mario Punch, Luigi Berry, Princess Toadstool Cherry.

They were released to promote the release of Super Mario World. While they are no longer in production, super fans can get a set of four cans for $400 on eBay. 

The Flintstones Soda

Mario wasn’t the only franchise to have their very own soda — The Flintstones characters were featured in a line of soft drinks. Like Mario Soft Drink, each Flintstones character had their own flavor:

  • Fred Flintstone: Pterodactyl Punch
  • Wilma Flintstone: Sabertooth Orange
  • Dino: Bubblerock Bubblegum
  • Pebbles: Gravelberry Grape
  • Barney Rubble: Lemonrock Lemon
  • Betty Rubble: Stegosaurus Cola
  • Bamm-Bamm: Brontosaurus Blue Raspberry

Tru Blood

In order to promote the show True Blood, Tru Blood was released. The flavor? Blood orange — slightly tart, lightly sweet.

In the show, it was a brand of synthetic bottled blood used as an alternative blood source for vampires to meet their nutritional needs. The bottle was made to look like a real-life version from the show. 

These are more recent brands, but do you recognize these obscure sodas…?

Sport Cola

This soda was first launched in the 1960s as a 99% caffeine-free cola-flavored soda. It was eventually discontinued in the 1970s.

American actor and comedian Wally Cox advertised the short-lived soda, boasting the phrase, “Sport Cola’s taste is kicky and clean. We don’t add the extra caffeine. How would you like a good swift kick? That’s what you get with great new Sport.” 

OK Soda 

Coca-Cola introduced OK Soda in 1993. After international market research done by Coca-Cola in the late 1980s, it was revealed that “Coke” was the second most recognizable word across all languages in the world. The first word? “OK.” Thus, OK Soda was born to take advantage of the newfound information.

Sadly, OK Soda was nowhere near as successful as Coke and was eventually discontinued in 1995. 

Have you heard of these discontinued “thirst quenchers”…?

Rondo 

This citrus-flavored soft drink was limited to US markets in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It’s famous for its two slogans — “Rondo – The Thirst Crusher” and “Lightly carbonated, so you can slam it down fast!”

Its commercials used the slogans and images of people crushing the bright yellow Rondo cans in various ways. 

Simba

Pepsi had the widely popular Mountain Dew, so Coca-Cola produced Simba Soda to challenge their popularity in the 1970s. With a fierce lion on its label, marketing included the phrase, “It conquers The African thirst!”

The citrus soda, however, failed to last as long as Mountain Dew has. 

Vault

Vault was a citrus-flavored soda that launched in 2005. It was silently discontinued by the end of 2011.

Its ingredients are very similar to Coca-Cola’s Surge. Surge was another citrus-flavored soda that was discontinued shortly before Vault was created in 2003. Unlike Vault, however, Surge was re-released in 2014 due to high demand.

Leed

Leed was a carbonated lemonade drink first introduced in 1967. At its prime in the 1980s, it was one of the staple drinks among New Zealand retailers and the most common lemonade drink distributed by Coca-Cola.

It was eventually discontinued in 1984 and replaced by the Sprite brand. 

Storm

Storm was a caffeinated lemon-lime flavored soda as a test market by PepsiCo. The launch was an early effort of Pepsi trying to compete with Coca-Cola’s Sprite, which was the leader in the clear lemon-lime soda market at the time.

While similar to Sprite, it was different with a slight bitterness and being caffeinated. Storm failed to make it out of the test market stage, despite using Star Wars to promote the brand. 

This failure had nothing on some sodas featuring experimental (and arguably disgusting) flavors…

Experimental Flavors

Fudgsicle Soda

Chocolate sodas are seemingly a thing of the past. Popular ice cream brand, Fudgsicle, turned its iconic fudgy pop into canned soda. We don’t know about you, but we’d rather have the actual Fudgsicle over the soda any day. 

Chocolate Soldier

Speaking of chocolate drinks and chocolate sodas, Chocolate Soldier is another discontinued soda. Each bottle of Chocolate Soldier came with a soldier printed on its glass.

It was comparable to the widely popular Yoo-Hoo, which is still available and much-loved today.

No-Cal

No-Cal was the first zero-calorie soda and first launched in 1952. It was initially marketed to diabetics and included a variety of flavors: ginger ale, root beer, coffee, chocolate, lemon, cola and black cherry. Their most popular flavor was black cherry.

While their initial demographic comprised of diabetics, they started marketing toward housewives who were weight-conscious. However, as major producers like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo launched their own diet brands in the 1960s, No-Cal began its decline. When the FDA banned cyclamate sweeteners in 1970, No-Cal officially closed out. 

Here are some more drinks that were canceled — possibly for good reasons…

Aspen

Aspen Soda was first introduced in 1978 and marketed as an apple-flavored soft drink. It was marketed as a clear soda with “just a snap of apple.” Sadly for apple fans everywhere, it was discontinued in 1982.

Many fans found Aspen’s replica with Slice’s apple-flavored soft drink in 1984.

I Like Worms 

In 1974, a company called The Larry and Duane Company created a cherry-flavored soda named I Like Worms. Fortunately for soda drinkers, there were no worms to be found in a can.

Their cans explained just about everything one needed to know about the can: “A specially blended, quality, carbonated soda with a taste so new and exciting that it required a name just as unusual as our soft drink.” 

Bludwine/Budwine

Bludwine, later called Budwine, was a cherry-flavored soft drink in 1906.

In 1911, it was marketed to the public as having health benefits, including aiding consumers with digestion. Some physicians in Athens, Georgia even prescribed it to their patients.

Budwine was eventually discontinued in the 1990s. 

But it’s not just about obscure brands. Pepsi and 7Up have hair MANY failures…

Pepsi and 7Up’s History of Discontinued Sodas

Patio

Patio was Pepsi’s first venture into diet cola back in 1963. It came in a variety of flavors such as grape, orange and root beer just a year after its launch. By the end of 1964, however, Patio Diet Cola was rebranded into what we now know as Diet Pepsi.

For Mad Men fans out there, you may have seen this drink featured in an episode or two.