In the early '90s, Jolt Cola was the drink of choice at my grandmother's house, where I spent much of my after-school time watching cartoons like COPS. A lifelong carbonation connoisseur, I took my soda seriously even as a kid. While grandma's supply of Jolt wasn't exactly rationed, I believe it was unofficially monitored: I could down a Jolt only once or twice a week. This was when I was limited to a couple of Cokes per day, and Jolt Cola packed far more of a punch. In retrospect, that was a pretty liberal caffeine allowance for an eleven-year old; it's no wonder I was always bouncing off the walls.
Yesterday at the grocery store, I was shocked to find Jolt Cola had returned to shelves! Back from its 2009 death since apparently 2017, this is the first time I'd seen the infamous elixir in many years, and I'm no stranger to the soda aisle. My dad loved Jolt, and I'm going to hook him up a can. He's given me countless Mexican Cokes over the years, so this is the least I can do. (Although technically, "the least I can do" is nothing.) UPDATE: I don't think he would have been more thrilled over a new Corvette. Maybe I should have saved it for his birthday next month!
The new cans are taller than the original issues. A local redemption center had a vintage Jolt can on display as of a month ago, but when I went there today to take a side-by-side comparison photo, it had gone to parts unknown. This news will no doubt permanently depress half my readership; I hope the other three will get over it. The recycling guys probably thought I was nuts to drive there for a photo shoot, but after I told them I was writing a blog article on Jolt Cola, they must have realized I was completely rational.
Like New Coke, Jolt was released in 1985. With the motto, "All the sugar, and twice the caffeine," Jolt Cola quickly carved out a dubious reputation as a heart attack in a can. Marketed to college students and yuppies, it was more of a pioneering energy drink than a soda. While the caffeine content (10.00 mgs per fluid ounce) wasn't nearly that of a single cup of coffee, it was still way over the level of your standard Pepsi (yuck) or Coke (elixir of life). For those who never got into coffee, myself included, Jolt Cola represented a new threshold of consciousness. According to the company's press release, Jolt is intended for adult consumption only. There's even a warning on the box and the cans! It's normally my policy not to intake anything bearing a cautionary label, but for Jolt, I'll make an exception. Hey, there's a smiley face, so how bad could it be? Pay attention, Big Tobacco!
During its '90s prime, Jolt Cola was bordering on attaining pop culture icon status. Let's take a look at some Jolt-promoting media!
Jolt fueled Jurassic Park's corrupt genius, Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight, of Seinfeld fame). Did you ever notice that "Nedry" is a play on "nerdy"?
The soda received a nod on MTV's Beavis and Butt-Head. This show was my jam, which shouldn't surprise anyone.
Jolt inspired a recurring product in The Simpsons:
And a can of Jolt makes a cameo in Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Let's round out the product placement with some words of wisdom from Garth (Dana Carvey) in 1993's Wayne's World 2.
Jolt Cola's parent company, Wet Planet Beverages, filed for bankruptcy in 2009. But nostalgia is big business, and Jolt was ripe for a relaunch, this time by ECC Jolt, LLC. (Catchy.) After not having a taste of Jolt in probably twenty-five years, I didn't remember what to expect. After a tentative sip, it all came back, and all I could say was "Wow." I could feel the buzz almost immediately, and hyperactivity was only a matter of time. Maybe Coke Blak (2006-2008), the unholy union of Coke and coffee, will make a resurgence? Even abject failure Crystal Pepsi came back, so there may still be hope.
If you need me, I'll be doing a triathlon.