The crystal-clear incarnation of Pepsi may be nothing more than a distant memory for many millennials. But after nearly 20 years, it's coming back to stores.
Crystal Pepsi, a caffeine-free, clear version of the cola was sold for a brief time in the early 1990s and then discontinued. Since then, it’s returned only a few times for limited runs.
"Crystal Pepsi has always been a fan favorite and fans continue to ask for it time after time," said Chad Stubbs, Vice President, Marketing, Pepsi Trademark, in a statement. "From the 90s through today Pepsi has been a brand very much connected to music and baseball. We're excited to see this special tour come to life and to celebrate Crystal Pepsi's last return."
To celebrate Crystal Pepsi, and its era of origin, Pepsi is promoting the relaunch with a series of retro concerts with headline acts Busta Rhymes and Salt-N-Pepa.
When it was first launched, Crystal Pepsi was marketed as being healthier than the regular cola since it was supposedly devoid of artificial ingredients (i.e. the caramel coloring that Pepsi was still using at the time). However, this clear soda is not as healthy as marketing materials may have suggested thirty years ago — Crystal Pepsi contains 250 calories and a whopping 69 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle. Plus, it's coming back at a time when fewer people are drinking soda.
But, there's no doubt that clear carbonated drinks are trending right now. Polar, a New England beverage brand that's been around for well over 100 years, just launched a new line of seltzer: Seltzer’ade, taking the essence of fresh lemons and limes as a base and then layering on the bubbles. That drink is taking aim at the very-popular La Croix, famous for their own cans of lightly flavored sparkling water. There’s also been a huge influx in recent years of so-called “hard seltzer” brands, like Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer or Truly Spiked & Sparkling.
The idea of a clear soda may have seemed more natural 30 years ago but in a time when low to zero-calorie, clear sparklers exist, is there still a place for Crystal Pepsi's return?
The answer (no pun intended), is not clear.