What Happened to Surge?

I grew up in the latter part of the 1900s, in a time referred to as “the ‘90s.” I know, I’m old. Shut up and listen to the story. The ‘90s were an extreme time. Everything was marketed as the most extreme and you could tell just how extreme something was because it would either start with an X or end with a Z or both. Xtremez! One day as I got off the bus to go into school and saw a Hummer parked out front. Now, we all know that Hummers are the most extreme vehicle, but this one was even more so. It was painted neon green and had actors/models/brand ambassadors standing around and on top of it. They were handing out a new drink called Surge.

This was before the days of energy drinks, when people had to rely on over-caffeinated sodas to give them heart palpitations. And this promised to be the most over-caffeinated soda possible. Everyone got multiple free cans of Surge and everyone went completely bonkers. There were thousands of hyper kids screaming, running, and generally destroying the school that day. And that’s the day we all fell in love with Surge. So, where did it go?

What happened to surge soda?

Surge burst onto the scene in 1997. Only a few short years later, in 2003, it was gone. But Surge still looms large in the minds of ‘90s kids, along with Dunkaroos, Heinz EZ Squirt Colored Ketchup, and Squeezits. So what happened? 

Surge was Coca-Cola’s answer to Pepsi’s Mountain Dew (now Mtn Dew). Mountain Dew carved out a niche as the popular “extreme” drink of the time. Coca-Cola countered by making Surge, the most extreme drink possible, released with “extreme” commercials of a bunch of dudes fighting over Surge and spraying it all over the camera. Surge had a bright green-color and was marketed as being “Fully Loaded Citrus Soda with Carbos,” whatever that means. Despite all this, Surge actually had a little less caffeine and carbs than Mountain Dew. But the taste and the marketing created a rabid cult following.

Why was surge soda discontinued?

Unfortunately, the cult of Surge just wasn’t very big. There weren’t any big problems or weird scandals. Surge was discontinued because of its slumping sales. Rumors floated around about Surge having “adverse effects” and schools began replacing it with healthier options. It really didn’t help that Coca-Cola changed its head of marketing and began to focus less on youth-centric advertising and drinks. So, in 2003, Surge was discontinued.

Can you still buy Surge soda?

Surge went away in 2003, but its fans did not. People took to social media and passed around petitions in an effort to bring their favorite soda back from the dead. Fans even erected a billboard near Coca-Cola’s headquarters, urging them to bring back Surge. Finally, in 2014, Surge returned to the shelves. Slushy versions of Surge were released at 7-Eleven and Burger King. But the Surge revival was short-lived, and soon Surge disappeared from the world again. 

Surge will pop up every once in a while as a throwback special. But for the most part, it is not readily available. I’m just glad I stockpiled thousands of cans back in the ‘90s. You’ll have to pry them from my cold, dead, over-caffeinated hands.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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