The Return of Clearly Canadian
As a child in the early 90’s there wasn’t much I enjoyed better than a trip to the convenience store. It was one of those necessary stops for gas that usually resulted in me getting a candy bar, ICEE, Slush Puppy, or soda. What some people see as dingy old gas stations, I saw as amazing stores with all sorts of possibilities. Some of these stores had comic book racks with issues that were several years old, others had baseball and basketball cards, and the occasional store might even have a rack with a few toys. And being in North Carolina, it wasn’t uncommon to walk into a store full of NASCAR hats, die casts, and posters.
I loved exploring all these neat perks that each store presented but what I enjoyed even more was the opportunity I was given to choose what I wanted. My dad would be off busy picking up his own stuff, and I’d be left in front of a massive cooler with every drink and soda in the world to choose from.
Coke and Pepsi were always popular choices, but that was stuff you had at home. I always went for something unique and different at the convenience store, because it was special. One of the drinks I remember most fondly is Cleary Canadian.
Clearly Canadian came in a unique tear drop glass bottle. It looked elegant and reminded me of some sort of fancy wine bottle. I always felt grown up drinking a Clearly Canadian and it was like having a luxury drink in a world full of Yoo-hoos.
What made Clearly Canadian so special was its extreme carbonated taste and the fact that it was slightly rare. Not every store had it, and even the ones that did charged a premium. Whereas a bottle of Coke might run seventy or eighty cents, a Clearly Canadian ran close to a $1.50-$2.00. So, needless to say, my parents didn’t buy me one on every trip to the store.
In 1997, Clearly Canadians parent company launched Orbitz, another glass bottle drink that this time included little gel beads inside to be consumed. It looked neat and tasted great, and Orbitz was a huge success.
After a very lucrative run in the late 80’s and most of the 90’s, things started to decline for Clearly Canadian. The founding management exited in 2001 and eventually the company was acquired by another company. I don’t recall seeing Clearly Canadian in any stores anytime from around the year 2000, but it wasn’t something I really noticed until around 2005 or 2006. Once the nostalgia hit, I wanted a bottle of Clearly Canadian so bad it hurt. At times it felt like I was the only one who ever experience the overly carbonated fruit taste in that unique light blue bottle.
In 2012, I heard about an effort to create more Clearly Canadian being produced via crowd funding. I was all in on it, but you had to purchase it by the case and it was way out of my price range. I figured I would probably never taste Clearly Canadian again.
Imagine my surprise in November of 2017, when I noticed an Instagram post with someone holding a bottle of Clearly Canadian inside a World Market. I immediately started to Google-Fu and discovered that World Market was indeed selling Clearly Canadian again. I utilized their in-store pickup feature, but was disappointed when I realized that my closest store (a good forty minutes away) did not have any in stock. My dreams were once again crushed.
Two weeks later, my wife was visiting a World Market in Myrtle Beach, SC and she sent me a picture of a huge display full of Clearly Canadian. She picked me up two of every flavor (which was a risk, because I only remember drinking Wild Cherry), and brought them home. I let her take the first sip (which she hated) and then I indulged in the bitter carbonated taste that had eluded my mouth for twenty years.
Around Christmas, I found myself near my local World Market and what do you know, they now had a ton of Clearly Canadian. I walked out with another half-a-dozen bottles and I’ve been enjoying a bottle or two of Clearly Canadian for the past few months.
Clearly Canadian currently comes in six flavors: Orchard Peach, Wild Cherry, Sparkling Mineral Water, Country Raspberry, and Mountain Blackberry. The bottles look just like they did in the early 90’s, and the taste is exactly as I remember it. I’m not really sure what my favorite flavor is but I’m leaning toward Peach. All of the flavors are very carbonated and taste a little bitter and a little sweet.
Clearly Canadian was featured in all sorts of 90’s media like Seinfeld, Dawson’s Creek, Sex and the City, and the classic film, Weekend at Bernies. I’d recommend turning on one of those classic shows/movies and down a bottle for the full 90’s effect.
Clearly Canadian is one of those great 90’s products that has made a successful comeback. It was my most anticipated behind Ecto Cooler, which we got at least for one magical summer. Now, I’m waiting on Leaf to get Bonkers out and running (they’ve been talking about releasing these for at least five years).
It’s always good to see a product come back from the dead. I’m happy we can add Clearly Canadian next other successful zombie products like Surge and French Toast Crunch.