The Periodic Table of Snapple Elements

Posted by brilokuloj on Jun 20, 2024

As you may remember, we recently posted our review of the 2022 Snapple Elements. This article ended on a cliffhanger when I discovered that, contrary to their comeback marketing, there were missing flavors. Many more flavors.

This time around, I’m here with the Wayback Machine to explore the depths of this madness. How many Snapple Elements are there? And what does this mean for our universe?


Front page

Let’s begin our journey on the Snapple website, circa 2000. That’s right, even though many people are eager to call Snapple Elements a “90s thing”, it’s yet another example of my fellow millennials conflating the 90s (which we were born in) with the early 2000s (which we grew up in). For shame!

Navigating to the Elements section is actually quite perilous, even beyond how much it makes my eyes hurt. You have to find it through the “Yum” subfolder, at which point Ruffle will crash on an unloadable Flash intro and your journey will come to an end. But the Wayback Machine lets you search a website by URLs recorded, so I just searched “elements” and continued on my way.

Elements

This is the front page for Elements after the Flash intro but, well, it’s made up entirely of dead images. I don’t have even the slightest clue what might have been here. This is a great example of how designing your website with accessibility in mind also benefits its longevity.

Each element seems to have come with 5 pages: Ingredients, Herbs, Special, Links, and Music. Of those pages, only Links and Music are still navigable. Let’s take a look.

Sun

As you may remember, nowadays Sun is described as a starfruit, orange, and nectarine fruit drink. In the process of writing about these stupid drinks, I learned that they’ve actually changed flavors numerous times. Sun used to be starfruit orange (no nectarine), and apparently at one point it was strawberry banana. What?

Links

These are actually really neat, and now that I think about it, I remember that a lot of old brand websites were like this. I can’t think of any recent internet advertisement campaigns that actually reach out into the broader web in this way. Nowadays it’s things like the Wendy’s Twitter account – self-sufficient by definition, a masturbatory public display. Look at how funny we are!

The links themselves are just… fine. Nothing super memorable, but they tried.

There’s a “submit” section at the bottom of the page, promoting some reader interactivity at a time where companies were too naive to worry about receiving an onslaught of Goatses. I won’t guess how many of these links were personally curated by the website designer versus submitted by readers.

Music

That’s right. Every flavor on the site comes with its own mixtape. Here’s the Sun’s:

  1. Len - Steal My Sunshine
  2. Concrete Blonde - Sun
  3. The Chemical Brothers - Setting Sun
  4. Stevie Wonder - Sunshine of my Life
  5. Hair Soundtrack - Let the Sunshine In
  6. Alice in Chains - Sunshine
  7. Jackson 5 - Ain’t No Sunshine
  8. Live - Sun
  9. The Beatles - Good Day Sunshine

Some intern got paid probably more money than I earn in a year to search every popular song with the word “sun” in the title.

But… are they actually about the sun?

At this point in writing this article, I was inspired for the first time ever to try to make charts to show you what the common themes were. Unfortunately, this proved to be way too much effort without enough payoff (Charts.JS was just straight up not working), so at the last minute I am writing an apology and replacing my awesome chartwork with emojis. It’s still funny. Please laugh.

I suppose I could say most of the depression-themed ones are about the absence of the sun, but you’d think they could muster up even one song that isn’t soul-crushing in some way. Come on, what about “Walking on Sunshine”, even?

Fire

Fire is and has always been a dragonfruit-flavored beverage, except for when it was dragonfruit, pear, raspberry, strawberry, and lime. That’s way too many flavors. Chill out a bit.

Links

I find it amusing that, of the 3 actually fire-related links out of 5, they are all about avoiding fire.

Music

  1. Ohio Players - Fire
  2. Prodigy - Fire
  3. Jimi Hendrix - Fire
  4. Scooter - Fire
  5. Jefferson Starship - Fire
  6. Pointer Sisters - Fire
  7. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Fire
  8. The Doors - Light My Fire
  9. Prodigy - Firestarter

Fire is the sexiest element. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Earth

The 2022 rerelease pins Earth as a cherry & fig black tea drink, which I did not like, but originally it was grape-cranberry fruit drink. I’d kind of like to try that.

Links

The panorama website caught my interest the most. For one thing, it reflects an early usage of ‘virtual reality’, before the term became chiefly about 3D headsets; these are just what you would think of nowadays as 360 panoramas, the likes of which are a dime a dozen on Google Street View. For another, apparently this is a gallery that has been going on for decades, continuing to this day; the World Wide Panorama website has been updating even as I’ve been writing this article.

And there’s some real heavy-hitters on this site as well. I felt a peculiar, indescribable emotion when I found a panorama of a family’s house on Christmas week, far cozier and more friendly-looking than any Christmas I had ever suffered through. My mind went to One-Hour Photo, an unforgettable movie wherein the deeply mentally unwell protagonist (played by the amazing Robin Williams) imagines himself as a part of a stranger’s family, an eerie ghost intruding inside a lively Christmas scene.

In the words of World Wide Panorama’s founder, Don Bain:

As an educator myself, I particularly value panoramas for the way they can show us people and places around the world, their diversity and commonality. I remember images from the first few Wrinkles that included a cozy dinner table in Scandinavia, Rabbett’s favorite beach in Hawaii, the pre-dawn darkness in Singapore, even inside a refrigerator!

Music

  1. Orb - Earth (Gaia)
  2. Ozzy Osbourne - Back on Earth
  3. Frankie Avalon - Earth Angel
  4. Elvis Presley - Earth Angel
  5. Duran Duran - Planet Earth

I’m not even going to make a chart for this one, because for some reason Duran Duran’s song is the only song here that doesn’t reference Christian theology. Excuse me?

Rain

Rain is agave cactus and this hasn’t changed. I can sleep at night knowing this.

Links

Weather, weather, weather, a complete recap of a film, environmentalism, and a place to buy a 54-gallon rain barrel. That’s rain for ya!

Music

  1. James Taylor - Fire and Rain
  2. Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds
  3. The Beatles - Rain
  4. Concrete Blonde - Rain
  5. The Cult - Rain
  6. Erasure - Rain
  7. Jerry Garcia - Rain
  8. James - Rain Whistling
  9. Kiss - Rain
  10. Madonna - Rain
  11. John Coltrane - After the Rain
  12. Bryan Ferry - Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall
  13. Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  14. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Naked In The Rain

Surely with this many songs, we can get a little closer to understanding rain, right?

Air

Air didn’t exist in 1999.

That’s right, I can find no proof that the prickly pear and peach tea drink they are peddling nowadays as part of their retro collection ever actually existed.

There was, however, Diet Air, which was “prickly peach” – OK, fine, it was probably the same exact drink. I was under the impression that Diet Air was a diet version of the currently-existing Air, but maybe it was just a stupid name in a time period where people cared a little less.

Diet Air also did not get its own links or music. God damn this cruel world.

Lightning

“Wait, what?” you might be wondering. “This is not one of the 5 Snapple Elements.” That’s right. There were more elements, and I’m here to uncover as many as I can. Lightning was a ginseng black tea drink.

Links

This taught me that there were once entire websites dedicated to talking about basic scientific phenomena. I kind of like it!

Music

  1. Live - Lightning Crashes
  2. Danny Elfman - Lightning
  3. Rush - Chain Lightning
  4. The Who - Call me Lightning
  5. John Travolta - Greased Lightning

Five songs and none of them are about lightning. Great job.

Moon

The Moon tastes like green tea, apparently.

According to a baseless claim on Instagram, the Moon will return to stores late 2024, and it will now be spiced plum and lime flavored. Mark your calendars, alright?

Links

Seriously, what’s up with the last one? This isn’t the scientific facts I’ve come to associate with Snapple. For shame.

Music

  1. Pink Floyd - Eclipse
  2. Clay Walker - Hypnotize the Moon
  3. R.E.M. - Man on the Moon
  4. Orb - Back Side of The Moon
  5. Rusted Root - Moon
  6. Enigma - Almost Full Moon
  7. Van Morrison - Moondance
  8. Concrete Blonde - Mexican Moon
  9. Ozzy Osbourne - Bark At The Moon

That’s everything you need to know about the moon.

The missing flavors

This is the list I often find circulated verbatim. I’ve Googled each of these and been able to find photographic proof that they all existed even at the concept art level, though some seem like they were rarer than others (Velocity in particular was hard to find anything about).

But while I was Googling these… I found out there were even more. In 2003, Snapple Elements had an entire energy drink line, some of them sharing flavors with the main line:

The only substantial proof I’ve found of these existing is a semi-working mirror of one of Snapple’s promotional sites, hosted by the site designers. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to figure out if this was ever even hosted on the Snapple site itself.

Its affect on my life

In order to get through writing this stupid fucking article, I went through hours of music. For the most part, this was my usual catalog of instrumental video game tracks, because I am regrettably one of those people who can’t listen to real music. But once I started writing down the contents of the individual Element playlists, I would occasionally stop and listen to one if its lyrics looked interesting enough.

And then there was Eclipse by Pink Floyd. Its lyrics immediately gripped me, but even more so, I spotted this annotation:

I don’t see it as a riddle. The album uses the sun and the moon as symbols; the light and the dark; the good and the bad; the life force as opposed to the death force. I think it’s a very simple statement saying that all the good things life can offer are there for us to grasp, but that the influence of some dark force in our natures prevents us from seizing them. The song addresses the listener and says that if you, the listener, are affected by that force, and if that force is a worry to you, well I feel exactly the same too. The line ‘I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon’ is me speaking to the listener, saying, ‘I know you have these bad feelings and impulses because I do too, and one of the ways I can make direct contact with you is to share with you the fact that I feel bad sometimes.

I dropped everything to finally listen to Dark Side of the Moon for the first time.

It was amazing. Truly, I now understand why this is one of the greats. I’ve been a prog rock enjoyer for longer than I’ve had human consciousness, so I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get around to this one, but I’m glad it finally happened.

You’re just going to have to picture me doing research for this article, hands balled up into fists, tears welling up in my eyes as the final crescendo of Eclipse plays, and on my computer monitor, I am searching for “Snapple” “Velocity” and getting this instead:

Explore Snapple Fun Facts – Large rain drops can fall at speeds of 20 mph. Phantom rain are raindrops … The first flight traveled at less than 7 mph (ground speed). 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6 …

The meaning of it all

What was Snapple going for here?

By my estimates, Snapple Elements was originally a drastic attempt at rebranding. In the early 90s, Quaker Oats purchased Snapple and drove its sales down 22% in the matter of only two years; Triarc Companies was the next to take the Snapple name, and Elements came out at the end of the decade.

Triarc’s annual report (a very fascinating read if you’re a nerd like me) discusses their hopes that Elements will revitalize the brand.

It also mentions, with repeat emphasis, the glass bottles the drinks came in. This haunts me deeply.

I would say, as someone who isn’t old enough to remember these things but has had fixations on similar drinks, that Elements was assuredly pandering to the hippie crowd. Just look at how many of the Elemental Links were about environmentalism! It makes perfect sense that they’d produce their hippie treehugger drinks in glass bottles. Not only that, but these bottles apparently had fun designs with elements color-matched to the liquid inside, so they would reveal themselves as you drank.

All of that is gone now, all in favor of a plastic bottle with a logo that people agree is uncomfortably close to Durex’s. What gives?

Nowadays, Snapple is a product of Keurig Dr Pepper, a conglomerate famously known for making some of the most wasteful products in our human existence even writing this sentence is making me really pissed off sorry. I would guess that the modern Snapple Elements revival is an attempt to pander to a time when environmentalism was at least a theatrical performance, not merely a word in a title.

It’s not worth it to get nostalgic over marketing. But it does reveal a core truth of late-stage capitalism: they have realized that the performances don’t matter for sales. They can slap a name on something and call it a day. It doesn’t even have to be the same product; it can be a vague simulacrum, a hint at what was once real. People, including me, will just buy something because it has a name that aligns with their worldview, regardless of if it actually reflects those beliefs at all.

Yet, in this moment, I feel a spiritual connection: to the underpaid intern who wrote down “Pink Floyd - Eclipse” because it was moon-related; to Pink Floyd themselves, writing an album about sharing the struggles of mental illness; to the person who photographed a panorama of their Christmas evening, so that they could share that moment with others.

Michael Wale of The Times described the piece as “bringing tears to the eyes. It was so completely understanding and musically questioning.”

Derek Jewell of The Sunday Times wrote “The ambition of the Floyd’s artistic intention is now vast.”

Melody Maker was less enthusiastic: “Musically, there were some great ideas, but the sound effects often left me wondering if I was in a bird-cage at London Zoo.”

Categories: food retro

Tagged: 1999 2022 snapple internet archive