Competition has always been the name of the game in the cola beverage industry, with the two giants, Coke and Pepsi consistently trying to capture more of the other’s market with new and innovative soft drinks. It’s a risky endeavor to be sure, with a primary example being the highly-touted New Coke that we covered last time, which fizzled quickly and became an embarrassment for the company. And on the other side of the aisle, the competition will always be remembered for the grandiose introduction, yet short-lived Crystal Pepsi.
It seemed like a great idea, the first cola beverage with absolutely no coloring, as clear as a mountain stream. Hopes were high after extensive test marketing suggested that the soda pop-purchasing public would welcome the beverage with open arms. Ambitious ad campaigns were set in motion, featuring none other than rock and roll megaband Van Halen, who allowed their hit song, “Right Now” to be used in advertisements.
Crystal Pepsi came out of the starting gate strong in 1992, almost immediately capturing a full percentage point of the highly competitive beverage market. The numbers were so impressive that Coca-Cola quickly followed with Tab Clear. But all the hype and all the high hopes quickly began to fizzle out. To some, Crystal Pepsi just didn’t taste as good as the brown-colored original. To others, it tasted too much like the original. But whatever the reasons were, perhaps it just couldn’t live up to the enormous hype, the product left store shelves within a year or two, and the highly-touted transparent beverage market quickly disappeared.
In 2005, Pepsi, perhaps forgetting the past for a moment, began marketing a product in Mexico called Pepsi Clear, but those that forget history are doomed to repeat it, and Pepsi Clear became a flop too. Every so often, Pepsi will roll out a Crystal Pepsi revival for a short time, mostly just to throw us nostalgia nerds a bone. And so, the cola wars continue and Crystal Pepsi lives on mostly in the memories of those who had the fleeting opportunity to live through the gimmick of this short-lived drink.
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