A new Ghostbusters movie is upon us, and Hi-C used that fact to do exactly what former drink box addicts hoped it would. The glowing green nectar has returned. All hail Ecto Cooler.
First unleashed upon the U.S. in 1987, Ecto Cooler began life as a simple green Citrus Cooler product that had been in circulation since the late '60s. At the height of Ghostbusters fever, Hi-C performed one of the finest acts of co-branding in beverage history, adding the movie and cartoon franchise's gooey green mascot to the box and christening it Ecto Cooler.
Kids in the '80s went crazy for the new green Hi-C, which was really just the old green Hi-C with a new name. We didn't know, and we didn't care. Ecto Cooler was the stuff to have in your lunch bag. My mother used to store it in the freezer so it would thaw through the school day and still be cold for lunch. I would take it straight from the freezer, strip off the top of the box and eat it frozen with a spoon.
The popularity of Ecto Cooler lasted well beyond the popularity of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon it was originally created to complement. The cartoon show ended in 1991. Ecto Cooler stuck around until around 2001, when it was rebranded as Shoutin' Orange Tangergreen. The renamed drink's popularity waned, and in 2007, a year after trying to go back to a variation on its original Citrus Cooler name, Hi-C's green juice was dead.
And now it's back. In April Coca-Cola announced that its Minute Maid division would be bringing back Ecto Cooler for a limited time starting on May 30, in conjunction with July's new Ghostbusters film.
Finding the new Ecto Cooler can be a bit of a chore. Not a single retailer anticipated the demand for the remastered beverage, ordering in the same quantities they would if it were just plain old Hi-C. And so it was sold out for several weeks. Thankfully Coca-Cola had plenty of stock (they'd learned from the Surge revival), and now that retailers know what's up it should be a little easier to find.
Is it worth finding? That's what the video up top is for. Watch that. Here's a preview:
And here's the text bit. The new Ecto Cooler isn't exactly as I remember it. The formula has been modified, reducing the original sweeteners to high fructose corn syrup. It's a little more muted, and some of the tang of the original has faded. Still, the flavour is there, and the memories drinking it evokes are as true as memories can be.
It's a tasty beverage. It's also a liquid tribute to the late '80s, when parents didn't care nearly as much where the colour of the food and drink we were consuming came from, as long as we ate and drank.
Ultimately it's all about the green though, isn't it? The joy of Ecto Cooler is that neon green hue. It tricked kids into thinking they were drinking something dangerous and otherworldly, when in reality only 90 per cent of it was dangerous or otherworldly, the other 10 per cent being real fruit juice.