What’s better than regular Coke? Clear Coke, of course! Or, at least that’s what a majority of the top soda brands in the US thought back in the early '90s. Leading the "Clear Cola Craze" was PepsiCo., which released the first of many clear cola beverages, with their aspirational hit Crystal Pepsi. Anyone who grew up in the 1990s is likely to recall the suspiciously pure-looking soda, and its just-as-curious departure from stock shelves nationwide. So, what really happened to Crystal Pepsi, and the clear-cola movement that succeeded it?
The soda, first released in 1992, barely lasted the year before consumer reaction - or lack thereof - led to its being removed from circulation. But that wasn't the end for Crystal Pepsi - in fact, far from it. Thanks to a combination of nostalgia, marketing, and viral social media, the clear soda made not one but a few comebacks over the years, with the most recent rerelease being in 2016.
These returns were as surprising as they were confounding, and much to the dismay of PepsiCo., they didn't have much more success with the drink the second, or third, time around. Was the flavor to blame? Or was it simply a marketing strategy gone terribly wrong?