First Crystal Pepsi, then Zima, now Jolt. Following a recent string of retro beverage returns, the supercharged cola that woke up a generation of computer nerds with promises of "all the sugar and twice the caffeine" is making a comeback. But for now, Jolt will only be carried at Dollar General in single-serve 16-ounce cans.
Jolt rose to popularity in the 1980s with its unabashed unhealthy positioning that captured the hearts of computer programmers and gamers, while making cameos in films such as "Jurassic Park," "Hackers," and "Gremlins 2." Former owner Wet Planet Beverages tried to re-energize the classic energy cola in 2005 by putting it in resealable aluminum "battery bottles," but the sugary drink later crashed and faded. As other retro beverages burst on the scene, however, Jolt's new financial backers felt the time was right to bring the cola back in its original packaging.
"It's a nostalgia thing," says Jolt spokeswoman Kathryn Lyons. "We are bringing the '90s back. Why not bring the '80s back? Everyone seems to be so receptive to it." Dollar General will carry Jolt exclusively for a year, according to the brand. Further expansion is in discussion, Lyons says. Dollar General did not respond to an email for comment.
One can of Jolt contains 50 grams of sugar. That's actually less sugar than a 16-ounce can of Coke, which has 52 grams. But one can of Jolt also has 160 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 45 milligrams for a similarly sized Coke.
Jolt's return follows comebacks by other 1990s beverages including Crystal Pepsi, which first returned last summer and came back again for a limited time in August. Coca-Cola Co. in recent years has brought back its citrus-flavored soda Surge in limited quantities. And this summer, MillerCoors returned Zima to shelves for a limited time, seizing on the nostalgic allure of the clear malt beverage that was originally marketed as "zomething different."
"These reintroductions of retro brands are great fodder for social media campaigns," says Beverage-Digest Editor Duane Stanford. "So it makes sense these companies would want to bring them back and generate that online buzz."
Indeed, Jolt will rely heavily on social media marketing, Lyons says. Jolt's agency-of-record is NJI Media. On its Facebook page, Jolt has been soliciting Jolt flashbacks from fans, including this from one commenter: "I drank some Jolt Cola and played Atari ALL NIGHT LONG."
On Twitter, Jolt began teasing its return last week with a Pac-Man reference.
READY? pic.twitter.com/kJECdAFsMj— Jolt Cola (@RealJoltCola) September 2, 2017
Jolt was created in 1985 by C.J. Rapp. Private-equity firm Emigrant Capital became majority owner of the brand in 2009, ousting Rapp, who later sued the firm, according to the Rochester Business Journal.
Jolt is now owned by a firm called ECC Jolt. Jolt's CEO is Doug Dixon, who has experience in beverage development and distribution, according to his LinkedIn page.
Below, a look at how Jolt made its way into some movies back in the day.
Gremlins 2 has one of the oddest product placement I've seen in a film. Random Jolt Cola on a table with booze. pic.twitter.com/iHNyoFybDr— Andrew Robertson (@andalerob) July 23, 2014
Wayne's World 2