The Day Zima Died

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It’s gone now, but the ultimate ’90s malt beverage probably lasted longer than you thought it did.

Back in the day, the release of Zima was the Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens of the alcohol world. It was a time where clear beverages were a thing. Crystal Pepsi, Clearly Canadian…and a super-cool beverage named after the Slavic word for winter. Everyone was going to experience it, it was only a matter of time. After all, it had a massive marketing campaign behind it, full of commercials like this one…

Actually, Zima was more Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. Everyone experienced it…and, after some time had passed and they’d been able to think about it, most people decided that it sucked.



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And so it became a case-study in corporate inertia, where, despite plenty of evidence that Coors should have pulled the plug, they just kept tinkering with a beverage that was never going to be that popular. By 1995, Zima had a reputation for being effeminate, so, in response, Zima Gold was released, with amber color and supposedly “hints of bourbon” in its flavor. It was pulled from shelves within a year.

Most people don’t remember Zima after Y2K. It’s the kind of product that died a slow retail death. Once the promotion dollars went away, it became relegated to shelving further and further away from the consumer’s eye, not that many were looking for it.

And so it continued on, more famous as a crude punchline than as an actual product.

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If you were to ask people on the street what Zima is and how to get it, many people would know what it was but we’re not sure how many would know that it has been discontinued…or, if they figured it was, when Zima was discontinued.

It certainly came as a bit of a shock to us.

October 10, 2008

That’s it. October 10, 2008 is the day production was discontinued (in the US). That means Zima lasted 15 years, which is at least a decade longer than it should have.

Because Japan is a weird place, they still make it and drink it there. So if you’ve never had Zima and are curious what everyone was so unimpressed with, there is a way for you to try it…provided that you know someone in Japan. Alternatively, you can live vicariously through these two guys who went through that process themselves.

Today, we find most “alcopop” malt beverages to be unappealing, mostly because they taste (or more specifically “aftertaste”) like Zima.

So good riddance, Zima. Thank you for bursting our nostalgia bubble and reminding us that not everything in the ’90s was great.

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Beverage Correspondent


Tristan's just this guy, ya know?