Prepare yourself for the Jolt Revolt, part two. The latest drink-maker to try cashing in on the retro-beverage nostalgia wave is the high-octane soda with “all the sugar and twice the caffeine” that caused insomnia in many a ’80s and ’90s computer nerd. The company says the original cans are getting a rerelease on September 21.
When Jolt debuted in 1985, it was sort of the Ur–Red Bull: Marketing centered on the fact that it was extremely caffeinated, about four times the level of Coke. Naturally, everybody had to have it — a Microsoft profile from 1996 said, “The company’s Redmond, Wash., campus is rich in lore of long nights, deadlines, sleeping bags under desks and subsistence diets of stale pizza and Jolt soda.”
The caffeination gravitas (plus a pretty amazing can design) scored it cameos in Jurassic Park, Gremlins 2, and the ultimate dial-up thriller, Hackers:
Like Windows 95, Jolt eventually got uncool, and its maker at the time, a company called Wet Planet Beverages, tried revamping the brand in 2005. It made cans look like batteries (get it?) — a disaster when kids now had much edgier options like Four Loko and Joose in the same aisle.
But now that Surge, Clearly Canadian, and Zima have all mounted successful comebacks, Jolt wants a piece of that, too. “We fell asleep,” the company explains in a press release. “We got caught up in new packaging, flavors and additives and lost sight of our original and beloved Jolt Cola.” They’ve gone back to basics, and in another throwback move — this one maybe unintentional? — you’ll only be able to get the $1 16-ounce cans at Dollar General stores for the first year. The recipe, though, appears unchanged: still 50 grams of sugar, 160 milligrams of caffeine.
In a wise move, it does look like the company’s planning to use 2017 computer references: