Friday, April 23, 2010

Remembering OK Soda

Those of you who were young in the early to mid-1990s may remember OK Soda. I myself remember the pseudo-hipster ads published in the local newspaper my freshman year of college. Certainly, it is a product recalled with fondness by Eylúðr, who went to the trouble to create his own nostalgia page for the product. Back in December of 2007, before this site went on an extended hiatus, he was kind enough to submit to a brief interview on his tribute site. Unfortunately, when Chronological Snobbery returned from its extended vacation, Eylúðr's tribute site, hosted on the now defunct GeoCities, was no longer online. (In fact, all GeoCities sites were apparently wiped from the face of the Internets in 2009). But in the spirit of preserving Eylúðr's effort for posterity, I will run this long lost interview, despite the fact that the website in question is now and forever lost to history. Alas.

1. Why a website on OK Soda?
I was going through old magazines in my basement when I was around 14/15 and I found this article in Time about this line of soda that Coca-Cola tried to market and I just thought it was very interesting. It was the May 1994 issue. I have the article saved in a folder somewhere. Corporations just want to make money off you . . . bottom line. They marketed this soda to the disaffected Gen-Xers of the early 90s.
2. What do you remember about the marketing and release of OK Soda? Were you in one of the test markets?
I was not in a test market. I was 7 when it came out and I don't ever remember seeing it. There used to be empty cans on sale on eBay and empty cardboard cases, stuff like that. I wanted one.
3. What did it taste like?
People who actually had the soda said it tasted like a slightly fruity rendition of Classic Coke with a little spice/kick to it. You might be able to find "recipes" on some other tribute sites. I have made it before at a soda fountain. It's basically like . . . 3/4 cola (some use semi-flat cola), 1/4 orange soda, and a splash of Mr. Pibb/Dr. Pepper. (Fans say this is one of the closer recipes).

(Personally I think about a 1/3 cola, about a 1/3 Mr. Pibb, and about a 1/3 orange soda tastes BETTER OR 1/2 Mr. Pibb and 1/2 orange soda but then its not "OK Soda.")
4. Do you believe OK Soda is something that is quintessentially 1990s? If so, how and why?
I would say it is "90s" but not VERY 90s. Just a huge company trying to manipulate your specific demographic and "zeitgeist" just to make their wallets fatter. You get that every decade.

P.S. I miss Pepsi Blue. And I am crazy about Limited Edition Mountain Dew "Game Fuel."
If you're interested in other OK Soda tribute sites, though, see here and here (the latter of which includes a complete text of the OK Soda Manifesto, not to be missed).


Ryan S. said...

I am fascinated and disturbed by ChronSnob's ongoing pursuit of the "OK Cola" story.

For the record, if any beverage summed up the 90's, I believe "Surge" and its marketing campaign were quintessentially 90's. Repackaged Mountain Dew with a Poochie-rific attitude. And they had a Hummer that came to campus and handed out samples, while blasting 311 and Better than Ezra.

Abbytron said...

I loved OK Soda. I guess my dad or stepmom had some connections with someone in the company because when it was going out of business, we were generously stocked up with several cases. I liked it because it tasted just like the "graveyards" I would make at Godfather's Pizza soda fountain. One of the best sodas of that era, though I'd say Josta was a decent rival as it introduced much of the world to Guarana, which is now in like every single energy drink ever.

I also like that the commenter mentioned Surge because I sort of agree. The way it was packaged and advertised was very ’90s-esque. I didn't really like the taste of it so much, but I did send away for a free CD that they were offering from mailers in their soda boxes. It had some interesting music on it, including one by then-little-known group Five For Fighting ("Bella's Birthday Cake"), and (not surprisingly) 311. The interesting thing about both Surge and 311 though is that even when they were a big deal, you kind of knew it wouldn't last. They're both still around, but who in the world actually cares anymore? Haha.

kristiane said...

Ah, OK Soda. I never turn down an opportunity to gush about the love I had for it. A Coke vendor told me the flavor was meant to be a 'suicide' or mix of Coke, Minute Maid Orange (something you don't see any more) Mellow Yellow, Mr. Pibb, and Barqs. I believe that was the combo, though the specific amounts I am not sure of...

I'm the author of the site with the letter, and found this from the link. Love you blog, yet another I will return to. May I add you to my blog roll?

horus kemwer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
horus kemwer said...

How did comics not make it into this post, given that several OK soda designs are from prominent (moderately) underground cartoonists, e.g. Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns?

Ryan S. said...

I knew about the Clowes connection, but never noticed Burns was on the cans until I looked at one of the links.

The Burns and Clowes on the cans, and the post-Douglas Coupland "OK" soda manifesto are sort of oddly at odds as it seems someone had made a genuine stab at capturing a certain zeitgeist, but had to know such an idea as marketing strategy, lowered expectations and a wish to do no harm isn't much of a hook.

"Surge" may be more representative of the footprint left by the 90's, but "OK" does seem to have been an odd relic of a world that left behind maybe two or three artifacts.

Ransom said...

I'm not sure I was ever aware of the comic book connection, certainly not at that time. I do remember the would-be hip advertising and the soda's efforts to appear to be doing the very opposite of advertising. Actually, I can't say that I had more than an OK Soda or three in my life. However, it seems to me to be a product very indicative of the early 1990s and marketers' attempts to capitalize on the slacker/Gen X stereotype. Of course, if you've read this blog for very long, you know that back in 1994 I was drinking Snapple's Strawberry Lemonade, and not OK Soda.

Ransom said...

Oh, and Kristiane, of course you may add this site to your blogroll. What is your site?