What Happened To Surge Soda?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: November 3, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

The ‘90s were a special period, dubbed by many as the best decade to grow up in. This decade saw the release of Titanic (arguably the best movie of all time), the spread of pop culture and rap music, and the rise of the internet.

Although the events mentioned above were exciting, hardly any of them made as much impact on middle school kids and teens at the time as Surge soda!

 Coca-Cola released surge soda in 1997 as a response to PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew. 

However, one can conclude that all didn’t go as planned in the Coca-Cola camp, as this citrus-flavored soda was discontinued only five years later, in 2002. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For you to understand this better, we have to start from the beginning.

Read on to find out what happened to Surge soda. You can also read here to know which is older, Pepsi or Coca-cola!

Why Was Surge Soda Discontinued?

Cans of surge

Surge had a rocky start, which some might say was a sign of things to come. A month before the soft drink’s debut in January 1997, Coca-Cola had to settle a company that held a trademark for ‘Surge’ after they attempted to block Coke’s ad campaign. 

This company, Babson Bros, used the name for their milking machines and industrial cleaning liquid. However, they were soon settled, and Surge soda was ready to be born.

Coca-Cola had a $50 million budget for marketing its new fizzy drink, which started with a $1.2 million advertisement during Super Bowl XXXI. For a while, Coca-Cola’s marketing strategies paid off. 

According to a post by New York Times in 1999, Surge decreased Mountain Dew’s domination of the heavy citrus soda market from about 80% to two-thirds.

Between ‘97 and ‘99, Coca-Cola spent over $100 million in marketing Surge, with $36 million spent in the second year and $40 million in 1999 for a new ad campaign. Some have opined that they may have flown too close to the sun with their marketing, which was the beginning of the end.

The turn of the century saw the withdrawal of this citrus soda from shelves by retailers as sales began to slip. And after spending so much in marketing without manageable results, Coca-Cola decided to pull the plug on this soda. Sadly, it was discontinued in 2002.

Interestingly, Surge is not the only citrus soda produced or discontinued by Coca-Cola. Before Surge, Coca-Cola already produced a citrus-flavored soda called Urge that was released in Norway in 1996. 

The success of this Norwegian version (asides from PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew) inspired the release of Surge in the US in 1997. But, unlike its US version, Urge is still being sold and has never been discontinued (at least not in Norway).

Also, after the discontinuation of Surge, Coca-Cola released a new citrus soda called Vault in 2005 to appease the fans of the flavor, but this too was discontinued as fans were not satisfied with it.

Why Was Surge Soda Brought Back?

Surge ad for comeback
Why Was Surge Soda Brought Back?

In 2014, 12 years after Surge was discontinued, it was brought back and became available on Amazon. By 2015, it was on store shelves, and Coca-Cola even made the drink available to Coke purveyors across half of the continent. 

Additionally, Burger King released a limited-time run of Frozen Surge in 2015 and now carries this citrus soda in its self-serve soft drink dispensers.

You may have wondered what could have happened in 12 years for Coca-Cola to rethink its decision to discontinue this soda and bring it back.

The middle school children who drank Surge in the ‘90s had grown up and wanted their favorite soda back. But how were they to get Coca-Cola to notice them and do something about it?

Evans Carr, a Surge enthusiast, started the Surge movement to bring Coca-Cola’s attention to their needs. Soon enough, the Facebook community had gathered over 100,000 fans. In time, the movement raised over $3500 to put up a billboard in Atlanta, less than two miles away from Coca-Cola’s headquarters.

In addition, the over 100,000 fans of the movement put several calls to Coca-Cola, and there was even a Surge day when Coca-Cola would receive thousands of calls from the lovers of this citrus-flavored soda demanding that they bring back Surge.

After three years of coordinated effort from the Surge movement, Coca-Cola heeded their call and brought Surge back!

Is Surge Soda Still Made?

Surge samples green cans
Is Surge Soda Still Made?

Yes. Surge soda is still made, however, not for long. 

According to the Surge website, the lemon-lime flavored soda will soon leave store shelves. Already, it isn’t easy to find as most stores have sold out.

Currently, a 16-ounce bottle is sold for $79.99 on Amazon, a high price, even for a soda that begged to return. However, for fans of the drink who don’t need it in a can, you can get it from some Burger King self-serve dispensers along with three other flavors, including cherry, vanilla, and grape.

Read here to know when you shouldn’t drink grapefruit soda.

Even though the call for Surge soda may be fizzling out, the movement has said their work is not complete until their favorite soda is back on shelves permanently.

What Year Did Surge Come Out?

Surge cases of cans
What Year Did Surge Come Out?

Surge soda was first released in January 1997, making its debut on an ad campaign during the Super Bowl XXXI. Sadly, it was discontinued five years later. However, it made a comeback in 2014 after over 100,000 fans of the citrus soda lobbied Coca-Cola to bring it back.

Is Surge Soda an Energy drink?

Surge soda combines soda and an energy drink, similar to Monster and Red Bull. It contains Maltodextrin, additive athletes use as a dietary supplement. 

Its energy drink side was depicted accurately in one of its commercials from 1998, where a group of white, active men battled themselves for the drink and, after grabbing it, sprayed it on the camera lens while screaming against heavy electronic music playing in the background.

Conclusion

After a rocky start in 1997 and maybe too intense marketing, Surge soda was discontinued in 2002. But it made its comeback a dozen years after fans of the citrus-flavored soda ceaselessly asked for its return.

As of today, it is being sold, however, it might not be out for too long. But if the fans of the soda-energy drink combo brought it back before, maybe they will do it again.