The Return of Jolt Cola
In 1985, The Jolt Cola Company launched Jolt Cola, a highly caffeinated beverage marketed towards students and young professionals. Back in the 80’s, you didn’t have the dozens of energy drinks that are found on shelves like today. If you needed a pick me up and didn’t want coffee (or cocaine) then Jolt was one of your few alternatives.
Jolt Cola could be found on shelves from 1985 through 2009, when some bad business decisions and a dispute with a can manufacturer pushed the company into bankruptcy. I don’t recall there being much of an outcry, probably because by 2009 energy drinks could be found on shelves in every grocery store and gas station across the country. Jolt was just one brand in a sea of energy drinks and it didn’t do much to differentiate itself from the rest. It may have been a pioneer in energy drinks, but with a name like Jolt and can shaped like a battery, it was easily lost amongst the Red Bulls and Monsters.
Thanks to a wave of nostalgia-fueled consumerism, Jolt has returned to the shelves of Dollar General stores as of September 2017. Jolt returned to its original can design to channel that 80’s design nostalgia and even brought back its original slogan, “All the sugar and twice the caffeine.” That’s a little misleading when comparing it to a regular Coke, it has the same amount of sugar and THREE times the caffeine.
Whenever a product returns from the dead, I go out of my way to get my hands on it. Part of me wants to encourage more zombie products to rise from the dead and the other part of me wants to experience the past one taste at a time. I began making trips to different Dollar Generals around town hunting for that iconic red can, but I came away empty handed again and again. I spent all of September and October being envious of all the Instagram braggers enjoying their retro energy drink, while I kept coming away empty handed.
Jolt Cola was also being sold on Amazon, but if you lived through the launches of Ecto-Cooler and Surge, you know the pain of that game. It starts off with signing up for the email that’ll let you know when its back in stock (that email never comes by the way) then it’s the refreshing of the page throughout the day just hoping to see the Add to Cart button.
One day while eating lunch at work one day, I saw that Jolt Cola updated the official Instagram saying Jolt Cola was back in stock on Amazon. I rushed over and made my order. It cost quite a bit more than the dollar a can Dollar General was selling it for, but it was worth of the premium to finally have my prize.
My four pack of Jolt was delivered two days later and I was finally given a chance to take a step back to the 80’s where staying awake meant drinking coffee, doing cocaine, or drinking Jolt. This would be my first experience with Jolt and I had two months’ worth of anticipation finally came to an end with that first sip. And…. it was not good.
Okay, let me explain. I’m a huge drinker of soda, but diet soda. I’ve been drinking diet soda for almost twenty years now, and if you are the type of person that goes “Ewww, diet soda” you’ll understand my reaction when it comes to regular soda. Once you go diet, you can’t go back. So, my assessment of Jolt Cola is a bit skewed, but allow me to continue.
Jolt Cola is exactly what it says, a cola. Back when I consumed regular soda, there was a distinct difference between Coke and Pepsi, but most other colas tasted like RC Cola to me. Jolt reminds me of RC Cola. It’s a subpar cola that just happens to be jacked with caffeine.
Not every trip to the past is a positive one. I don’t have any memories or connections to Jolt Cola, and that’s okay. I’m sure there are thousands of other people that do and are thrilled to see Jolt Cola back on the shelf. Something that comes across to me as a regular cola in a 16 oz. can might be a direct link back to a certain time in someone else’s life and that makes me happy. I’m glad Jolt Cola is back on the shelves, even if I’m not a fan of the taste.
For those looking for Jolt in Dollar General, be sure to check down the food aisle. Apparently space in the normal soda/energy drink sections is limited, so Jolt is being found next to things like Spaghettios. My wife found the Dollar General just down the road for me had plenty of Jolt Cola, I was just looking in the wrong place.
Jolt Cola is back and I wish them all the luck in the world. It’s always a good thing when a dead brand gets resurrected and fans are allowed to enjoy it once again.