Want to impress someone who was born in the 90s? Tell them you have an unopened can of Surge at home. Surge was a somewhat popular citrus soda released from 1997 to 2003 in the United States. Intended to be a competitor to Mountain Dew, it never managed to find a solid market and was eventually discontinued. Dedicated Surge fans didn’t take this sitting down and immediately launched a dedicated campaign to have the drink returned to store shelves.
The campaign has paid off with small victories in the past (namely the introduction of Vault, which was also quickly removed from stores) but their ultimate goal was accomplished in 2015. Surge was released as an internet exclusive on Amazon, and eventually returned to store shelves. It’s since been available pretty consistently since then as a total 90s nostalgia cash-grab. We don’t know if you can still get it in cans or bottles right now, but it’s openly available at any Burger King with a Coke Freestyle machine.
Should they have bothered to bring it back? Let’s find out.
First, let’s get our level of previous engagement with Surge out of the way. Paula has had Surge back when it was first available, and has also drank Vault. Warden has never had Surge or Vault, and neither of us have drank the re-release of Surge until now.
Warden took the top of his lid off to take a picture and was immediately struck by the deep green color. It’s a sharp contrast from most yellow-green lemon-lime sodas: we had a banter about what to call it and could only come up with “it looks like liquefied Master Emerald”, which was a pretty awful conversation. Paula insisted that it wasn’t always this green. The word “murky” came up, and eventually we had the realization that it’s actually the exact color of most Shrek-themed food tie-ins, which was an even worse conversation.
The flavor was astoundingly light. It tastes like Sprite, with a flavor that feels like it should be perfectly clear instead of a muddy green. It reminds us of when we recently purchased Sprite from a local gas station, but had discovered there was little syrup left in the machine; to remedy this, we added a few shots of lime “flavor shots” to it. Maybe it was because we were drinking it from a Freestyle machine instead of a can, but it just tasted exactly like that Lemon-Lime-Lime-Lime concoction we made.
As his first time trying Surge, Warden did like it more than Paula. It’s better than Mountain Dew, but he wouldn’t pick it over something like Code Red.
Paula was pretty disappointed in it, saying it wasn’t anything like what they thought Surge tasted like. They thought it was bland and decidedly “un-extreme” in both appearance and taste, and it mostly just made them want Vault back – or maybe even just a can of Mello Yello.
There is also a frozen variety of Surge which has been around since Surge’s original re-release, but who cares? It probably won’t taste much better. We can assume the issue with this Surge was the fault of the Freestyle machine not being calibrated correctly, but how can we ever tell? Surge is overall a disappointment, an echo from the past that palely imitates a lost experience more than an actual foodstuff.
Why couldn’t they have brought back OK Soda instead?