The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Worst Ideas Ever: Crystal Pepsi

In my ongoing quest to shed light on humanity's flaws, poor decision-making capabilities and love of talentless musicians, I present an occasional column debuting in 2007: The Worst Ideas Ever. The Worst Ideas Ever is about exactly what you think it is: the dumbest most drug-addled things that mankind has ever produced. With that in mind, what better to kick off this column than one of the worst ideas of all-time: Crystal Pepsi.

Crystal Fucking Pepsi. Wow. Just thinking about Pepsi's decision to bring out a colorless caffeine-free version of regular Pepsi can induce hysterical laughter, as over 10 years after the fact, it easily remains one of the most inane things a major corporation has ever done. Forget about New Coke. At least that was a concept that had an idea behind it: i.e. that regular Coke was losing its market share and a formula change might boost sales. But Crystal Pepsi had no such logical underpinning. Instead, its sole reason for being seemed predicated on the half-baked idea that Americans would want to purchase a beverage that tasted exactly like Pepsi but looked like 7-Up. Genius.

Keep in mind, this wasn't even a diet-cola. Nor did it seem to trouble Pepsi executives that they already offered regular Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Pepsi and Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi, all of them inferior to their Coca-Cola versions. Yet some enlightened scholar decided that the artificial colorings that had worked just fine for 80 years were suddenly obsolete. I imagine the same nefarious early 90s executive to also have been the culprit for Zubaz Pants, Cross Colours, Vanilla Ice and taking Yo! MTV Raps off the air. Just because. After all, it was the early 90's, the Berlin Wall had collapsed, and nothing but limitless peace, prosperity and colorless soda loomed in our future.

Perhaps the most awesomely bad thing about Crystal Pepsi was its advertising campaign, which featured 30 second spots to the tune of Van Halen's "Right Now." See below.

As you can see from the ads, the makers of Crystal Pepsi feebly strain for gravitas, by flashing a bunch of non sequiturs on-screen over the dinosaur stomp of Hagar-era Van Halen's "Right now." Yes, "Right Now," in all it's cheesy synths, arrogant guitars and arena-rock glory. As though Pepsi wanted you to believe that by merely removing color from its flagship beverage, your life would be mind-blowingly altered. And about 7 people believed it.

Adding insult to injury, the ad might be the only thing worse than the product, riddled with nothing but flashing statements like: "Right Now, Nature's Inventing Better Stuff than Science." (Subtext: Mother Nature hatched Crystal Pepsi from Her Womb); "Right Now, the Future's One Step Ahead of You" (Subtext: Crystal Pepsi can and will stop time) " and "Right Now, Will Do Fine Without Caffeine" (Subtext: We Will Lie to You and You Will Like It). It also features a shot of a man of a neon Red Speedo diving into a bunch of clouds. Because nothing makes someone more thirsty than an enthusiastic bout of cloud-diving.

As you might expect, Crystal Pepsi lasted about a year before being unceremoniously yanked from the shelves. Thought it wouldn't be the last bad idea for Pepsi, who later launched Pepsi One, a non-starter that tasted identical to Diet Pepsi. Nonetheless, it stands out as the biggest bomb of them all, an idea so bad it makes Springfield's decision to build a Monorail seem brilliant by comparison. But look on the bright side, the next time you're viciously drunk, staggering around intent on committing some sort of maybe, you needn't worry about it. Go with your instincts and think to yourself: whatever it is, no idea can ever be as bad as Crystal Pepsi.

MP3: Van Halen-"Right Now"


At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for making me remember why I hate the 80's. Music, fashion and everything else. Crystal pepsi was a worse idea than Denny's refusing to serve me.

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Rap Jack Bauer said...

"After all, it was the early 90's, the Berlin Wall had collapsed, and nothing but limitless peace, prosperity and colorless soda loomed in our future."


Wiess, you brought up Pepsi One but what about Pepsi Kona? That came out right after Crystal Pepsi. Since the world was clamoring for soda and coffee mixed in one 2 liter bottle in the 90s, Pepsi took off its belt and stuck it to us with Pepsi Kona, another wretched product that lasted maybe 8 months.

Do you think people at the Pepsi Corporation are even allowed to say the words "kona" or "crystal" out loud without being hogtied and tortured?

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Jeff Reguilon said...

How can you discuss Pepsi mistakes without mentioning their mistake du jour, Diet Pepsi Jazz?

Also, I kind of like Coke Blak, which is Coke with coffee flavoring. I have no recollection of this Pepsi Kona.

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous jamie said...

funny thing is, now i can remember seeing those ads as a kid and being really psyched about crystal pepsi. what can i say, i was a sucker for marketing... strange how a tv ad can make something so inane seem like some epic event..

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Ryan Mackenzie said...

Yeah, count me among the young and stupid that actually paid cash money for a bottle of Crystal Pepsi. But they only got me once, cuz that stuff was nasty!

But the true genius of the piece was calling out Cross Colors. It was like we were going to rid America of racism with "funky" street wear. I wore mine proudly, that's for sure. Then again, I also went to a Jesus Jones concert. And bought a shirt. The early 90s were rough on this kid.

PS: I need more info on Pepsi Kona!

PS: I need more info on Pepsi Kona!

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

I have never heard of this crystal Kona, but I do confess to liking Coke Blak, they were passing it out one day at a Lupe Fiasco show of all places and it was delicious. Though I can't say I'd actually pay my own money for it. It made me feel like I was having a heart attack.

Jeff: Sadly, I kind of like the Pepsi Jazz. Really I have very low standards for soft drinks, which is why Crystal Pepsi was so mindblowingly bad in my opinion. Pepsi Jazz will for sure bomb though. That goes without saying.

No worries about Jesus Jones. I think everyone like Right Here Right was the end of history and Jesus Jones was right there to dictate it to us. At least, it wasn't Jeremy Jordan whose t-shirt you bought, among early 90s one hit wonders with the intials JJ.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

What about Crystal Gravy?

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

Crystal Gravy: Finally, you can see your meat.

You're good Ace, you are very good.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous DudeAsInCool said...

New Coke was even worse. Why would anyone want to replace the top selling beverage in the world ?

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous silawe said...

Todd and I got a free case of "Coca-Cola ZERO" at the store and we just can't seem to give them away. In fact people usually give me dirty looks when I offer them up, it's been 6 months.

At 11:28 PM, Blogger heather said...

Ace cowboy completely beat me to it, but I can still see Kevin Nealon splashing clear gravy on his face when I close my eyes. RIGHT NOW!

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Joey said...

I gotta call foul on this. Crystal Pepsi tasted like China Cola, and both were my shit. They seemed to have some kind of slightly off cola taste that was a little richer and varied on the back end. So no, this wasn't a bad idea.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger 911 said...

To hell with you all I like me some clear Pepsi and was to young to figure out what in the hell happened to it. I thought it was a summer thing or somethig, next summer came no clear....smh...Now I know why.


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