The Untold Truth Of Sprite

Although Sprite seems as much an American invention as Coca-Cola, it actually has its origins in West Germany, where it was invented in 1959 (via Rock Hill Coke). It was marketed in Germany as "Fanta Klare Zitrone" (Clear Lemon Fanta) and it wasn't until two years later, in 1961, when the beverage was introduced by the Coca-Cola company in the United States that it became being known as Sprite. 

In 1968, Germany followed suit and renamed the drink Sprite as well (via Prezi). The drink was brought to American shores in order to compete with 7UP, which had already established itself in the market for decades (via ThoughtCo). In a slightly dirty business move, in the 1980s, Coca-Cola convinced the bottling plants that it worked with (which also helped in the production of 7UP) to increase the distribution of Sprite over that of the competing soda (via Snack History). As a result, Sprite moved into first place in sales among lemon-lime-flavored sodas some two decades after its introduction to the country and has remained in that role ever since.

Sprite and the NBA

Known for being caffeine-free as opposed to some of its Coca-Cola-owned soft drink peers, Sprite has had a long history of advertising deals with NBA stars. Seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill starred in a series of Sprite commercials in the 1990s (via Grantland), and the current face of the NBA, LeBron James, signed a six-year endorsement deal with Sprite in 2003 (via Cleveland 19). Perhaps as a thank you to King James, Sprite introduced a limited edition LeBron-themed flavor called 6-Mix, which was a cross of orange and cherry flavors (via The Fact Ninja). In between the two, the late Kobe Bryant was often seen on screen sipping a Sprite (via YouTube).

For a time, Sprite was the official soft drink of the NBA from 1994 to 2015 (before Sprite, the official beverage was Coke), but PepsiCo signed a deal with the league to gain league sponsorship rights, ending a string of 28 years when a Coca-Cola product was the league's official beverage (via Reuters). After the Pepsi deal was struck for an undisclosed amount, Mountain Dew became the official drink of the league. 

On top of the advertising partnerships with recognizable superstars, Sprite has also succeeded in making its slogans well-known. The "Obey Your Thirst" and "Sublymonal" campaigns still ring bells with consumers long after they were introduced (via Inspiration Room).

Hangovers and hip hop

While its association with the NBA and lack of caffeine and artificial flavors have lent the beverage an air of healthiness, it is, of course, still a soft drink. It has 38 grams of sugar per can (via Sprite). That said, research from a Chinese university that examined the effect of 57 beverages on a hangover showed that Sprite might actually help with hangovers because it reduces the effects of a compound produced by alcohol consumption called acetaldehyde, which tends to cause nausea, vomiting, and headaches if ingested in large amounts.

Sprite doesn't just change up what's on the inside of the can — it also has run a series of limited edition art designs on the outside of the can as well. In 2000, Sprite hired the British graffiti artist Temper to create a design for their cans, and his work was featured on more than 100 million Sprites sold in Europe. Fifteen years later, Sprite plastered the lyrics of rap songs by Drake, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and Rakim on their cans.

Limited flavors and a new European formula

Like many soft drinks, Sprite has been offered in a number of alternative varieties from Sprite Tropical Mix (via Sprite) to Sprite Ice (via Sprite Fandom), which had a minty aftertaste, to Sprite Cucumber (via Business Insider) and Sprite Cherry (via Sprite). Some of these flavored options were incredibly popular in certain markets and others fizzled soon after being introduced. A total of 17 different varieties have been released.

In 2012, the Sprite formula in Europe changed. The Sprite sold in France had 30 percent of its sugar removed and was replaced with the natural sweetener stevia. This lowered the calorie count of the drink and was copied in other European markets such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands (via The Fact Site).

Sprite has come quite a long way since its West German origins. It's available in more than 190 countries across the globe and is the third best-selling soft drink worldwide (via Rewind and Capture)