Surge was a product of its time, a soda made for the 1990s, a would-be competitor to Mountain Dew. Its untimely demise in 2002 left fans thirsty for more. Those fans never forgot the lingering flavor of an undefinable citrus origin. They demanded the soda's return through a well-organized Facebook campaign, and Coca-Cola took notice. Thanks to the pressures of social media and the prospect of massive sales, Surge is now back from the land of lost sodas.
This isn't going to be like New Coke, the ill-advised 1985 reformulation of Coke that promptly tanked in the marketplace. The soda will feature its original formulation, and even the cans are designed to look like the original packaging. The ingredient list includes all sorts of items you don't want to think about, like high-fructose corn syrup, calcium disodium edta, and blue #1. There is a hint of nature in the soda, though, since concentrated orange juice also makes the list. A 16-ounce serving of Surge will imbue you with the power of 230 calories, 62 grams of carbs (21 percent of the daily allowance), and 56 grams of sugars.
Surge originally launched in 1996 with a flurry of television commercials, but the current incarnation will have a very different sort of advertising campaign. A press release from Coca-Cola says the soda will be the company's first product launch to rely solely on social and digital media. This makes sense considering the impetus for Surge's reintroduction came largely from the Surge Movement, a Facebook fan page with 131,751 likes.
The sales channel is also unusual. You won't be able to pop down to your local grocery store to get your Surge fix. You will have to order it through Amazon. The soda is sold in a 12-pack of 16-ounce cans for $14. Amazon Prime members can get free shipping on the pack of cans.
"Previously, a smaller brand would never have had a realistic shot at commercialization. Now with Amazon, consumers can order a product like Surge and have it delivered directly to their doorstep. It's the democratization of demand," said Racquel Mason, associate vice president of sparkling flavors (best job title ever) for Coca-Cola North America.
The reviews on Amazon since the soda relaunched Monday are absolutely glowing, no doubt partly due to the prospect of the combined sugar and caffeine high the beverage will deliver. The current most-helpful review is the simple missive "I just spent 45 dollars on soda and I'm not even mad," from customer JR. Customer Nathan adds this message: "Red Bull might give you wings but Surge rips the wings off and gives you jet engines!"
It remains to be seen whether the combination of a rabid and vocal fan base with digital advertising efforts and an Amazon sales channel will make for a sustainable market for Surge, or if it will spike in popularity and then fade away like it did the first time. If the Surge Movement has any say, it will be around for a good long time.