Should Pepsi Bring Back Crystal Pepsi?

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Crystal Pepsi.  1992-1993.  Rest in Peace.

As quickly as it splashed into the pop culture scene in the early 1990s, it fizzled out, taking with it adoring fans who, to this day, shout for it to come back.  Like the Van Halen song that was used to promote it, Crystal Pepsi fans want it back, and they want it back “Right Now”!  Should Pepsi waste their time bringing it back to the market?  Clearly they had their reasons for pulling it in the first place, and they must have learned something the first time around to make them feel they should never bring it back.

I dug around a little to try to determine why Crystal Pepsi failed in the first place.  I came across many different theories.  One interesting one had to do with our brain’s color association with tastes, and clear is not a color we associate with the taste of cola.  Therefore, our taste expectations were violated, resulting in people not liking Crystal Pepsi.

What I think is more accurate is a combination of two things.  First, Pepsi spent way too much of the Crystal Pepsi budget in the beginning.  They had a one minute advertisement in the Super Bowl, and threw a massive celebration party to launch it, which blew a large part of their budget (The Right Brain Studio).  As a result, when they needed to tap into the budget for repromotion, there was simply not enough money left to justify it, especially since the reviews were unpleasant to Pepsi Co.

The second reason I believe Pepsi failed is that people expected it to taste just like Pepsi, with the benefit of having more natural ingredients, thus being healthier.  When they did not experience the same taste as Pepsi Cola, I think they were turned off.  Have you ever taken a bite of food expecting it to taste a very specific way, but it tastes totally different?  Even if it is delicious food, you cringe because you expected to taste something different.  This, I think, was what happened when people took their first swig of Crystal Pepsi.  They cringed because they expected the same taste as Pepsi Cola.  This is the fault of Pepsi marketing.  If they had marketed a different tasting product, perhaps the consumers would not have been so taken back.  Then again, if Crystal Pepsi had failed, it probably would not have the legendary status it has today.

In short, Pepsi ejaculated all of their money into the first big marketing push, a push that turned out to be misleading.  When they needed to revise their marketing for Crystal Pepsi, to promote it as its own unique form of Pepsi, with its own unique taste, there was not enough money to support the project, especially because reviews were not going well.

The absolute best summary of why Crystal Pepsi failed, I believe, can be found on the website The Right Brain Studio.  The article elaborates on the demise of Crystal Pepsi from a first-hand perspective, and does so in an interesting way.  You can read that article HERE:

All of this said, I also tried to figure out answers to why people want Crystal Pepsi to return.  I read through posts, different blogs, and watched YouTube videos.  To be sure, I found that wherever you go on the Internet, there is a small, but powerful movement to get Crystal Pepsi back on the market.  After sifting through all of this information, and meditating on it in my sleep, I determined there are one of two main reasons fans want it back.

1)  Crystal Pepsi fans sincerely enjoyed the taste.

2)  Crystal Pepsi fans are thoughtful people who enjoy nostalgic items because it brings back good memories from years ago.  Whether they genuinely like the taste or not, they associate the Crystal Pepsi fad with their life in the early 1990s, which, for them, was a special time for one reason or another.  I was in junior high during that wonderful time in history.  And, while that was not the best time in my life, I still reminisce about it with fond memories.  To be sure, thinking about Crystal Pepsi brings me back to those times.  Further, it is the thought of the Crystal Pepsi marketing, and not the taste, that jogs those memories, at least for me.

As it stands now, my guess is that Crystal Pepsi will remain a thing of the past.  Maybe that is a good thing.  Maybe the memories of that wonderful fad is why we love the product so much now.  Whatever the case, I personally doubt Pepsi will ever bring it back.

I do think it would be easy for Pepsi to bring it back, and do so in a way that would be profitable to them, at least as a short term promo.  They would probably have to spend very little on advertising to do it.  All they would need to do is let it be known through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc., that they will put it back on the market temporarily.  If they did that, I think it would go viral.

Crystal Pepsi fans are some of the most loyal and passionate product fans I have come across.  It is for this reason you can sell an unopened, 20+ year old bottle of Crystal Pepsi on Ebay for around $100, give or take a few dollars.  We personally experienced this positive fanaticism here at Poll Smash.  When we first put the poll into social media, we experienced a steady rush of fans voicing their “Yes” vote on Facebook and on our poll (linked below).  Perhaps the overwhelming “Yes” votes, and they are overwhelming, are because only people who want it back care enough to go vote on the matter; people who did not like it probably do not care whether it comes back or not.   Whatever the case, this simple and fun poll is yet another outlet for the great fans of Crystal Pepsi to let their opinion be voiced.

Poll Smash encourages you to vote on whether or not you think Pepsi should bring back Crystal Pepsi.  Because people overwhelmingly support it thus far, allow me to play Devil’s Advocate and throw out some questions for you to chew on before you vote.  First, what would it mean to you, and to other nostalgic fans, if it did come back? Also, do you miss Crystal Pepsi because it tasted so good, or do you miss that time in your life, and the thought of Crystal Pepsi brings back memories from those good times?  In other words, is Crystal Pepsi more useful to you as a memory from the past than it would be if you had some “Right Now”?

Forget all that… bring back Crystal Pepsi, NOW!

Enjoy The Crystal Pepsi Song!




4 Comments on “Should Pepsi Bring Back Crystal Pepsi?”

  1. Rendamar

    Great post! Thanks for doing the research about why Crystal Pepsi fizzled so fast.

    But I’m not so sure that nostalgia is why people want it to come back. My theory is that most people in the movement are just loyal fans of the LA Beast, the man behind it all. Due to the silly nature of his videos, I doubt that very many people in his audience are old enough to have experienced Crystal Pepsi, which rules out nostalgia as a reason for their support of the movement.

  2. Sean Dougherty

    Thanks, Rendamar. You offer a very insightful perspective. No doubt, the LA Beast has contributed to a great deal, if not the majority of, the Crystal Pepsi fad. I, for one, would like it back for nostalgic reasons. Interestingly enough, the way I discovered the Beast was by conducting a search for Crystal Pepsi. I came across the LA Beast after doing a search, watched his videos, and became a huge fan of his.
    Regardless, thank you for the comment. It is a great contribution to this discussion.

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