The Nickname Coca-Cola Allegedly Called Surge

For being your everyday bottle of soda, Coca-Cola holds a lot of nostalgic value. Older folks may remember Haddon Sunblom's vivid illustrations portraying Santa Claus with his twinkling warm eyes and fluffy white beard drinking a bottle of Coke as cold as the December snow. The baby boomers may recall New Coke, a failed spin-off of the classic brand that had a short-lived life on the market and a long life of mockery. A lucky few may even remember OK Soda, those silvery cans with the surreal Daniel Clowes/Charles Burns illustrations. There doesn't seem to be a time period in the 20th or even 21st century that Coca-Cola hasn't made itself a part of. 

The 1990s is no exception to this. From the first websites to the explosion of grunge music, the 1990s are trademarked by that radical, experimental style that made itself present in almost every facet of life: fashion, slang, media, and yes, even food. Generation Z can tell you about Dunkaroos, Push-Up pops, purple ketchup, dinosaur egg oatmeal, and of course, Surge. This lemon-lime citrus soda may sound like Mountain Dew under a different name to those unaware, but Surge is actually a product of Coca-Cola. Advertised in commercials filled with "extreme" guitar riffs and teenagers jumping over couches, Surge was meant to compete directly against another famous soda that was muscling in on Coca-Cola's sales. In fact, it wasn't just a soda: It was a secret weapon with a code name: MDK.

Mountain Dew Killer

In the first months of 1997, competition for sales was fizzing between the Coca-Cola Company and long-time soft drink rival Pepsi. While Pepsi's Mountain Dew was the undisputed champion of citrus-flavored sodas across the nation, Coke's own Mello Yellow seemed to be struggling (via AP News). It was clear something had to be done to tip the scales back into Coke's favor. Although still brushing off the disastrous New Coke release only a short 12 years ago, the company began to develop what they called MDK — Mountain Dew Killer (via The Verge). That something would be Surge.

Introduced to the market with a flashy commercial during Super Bowl XXXI, Surge tried to appeal itself to the young "radicals" of the day by being the "x-treme" soda. You know, the soda you could drink when you're out getting rough and crazy with your intense, grungy looking friends in alleys and school hallways — at least, that's how Coke tried to market it. Unsurprisingly, the neon green soda quickly became controversial among parents and teachers, with some schools even banning the drink due to wired up students (via Associated Press). In 2003, Coca-Cola discontinued Surge due to lagging sales. That is, until a passionate group of Surge fans known as the SURGE MOVEMENT got the soda to come back in 2014 (via The Washington Post).

Today, Surge can be found in any Freestyle machine in Burger King, although it still hasn't hurt Mountain Dew the way Coke thought it would.