Surge (sometimes styled as SURGE) is a citrus flavored soft drink first produced in the 1990s by The Coca-Cola Company to compete with Pepsi's Mountain Dew. Surge was advertised as having a more "hardcore" edge, much like Mountain Dew's advertising at the time, in an attempt to lure customers away from Pepsi. It was originally launched in Norway as Urge in 1996, and was so popular that it was later released in America as Surge. Lagging sales caused production to be ended in 2003 for most markets,
However, popular fan bases such as Facebook's "SURGE Movement" led Coca-Cola to re-release the soft drink on September 15, 2014, for the US market via Amazon Prime in 12-packs of 16 oz cans. Following a test-market for the beverage in the Southeastern United States in early 2015, Surge was re-released primarily in convenience stores in the Eastern United States and some Mountain states in September 2015.
In 1997, Coca-Cola started production of Surge in the United States, with its original whitepaper name being "MDK," or "Mountain Dew Killer." It was developed to converge with Mello Yello as a means of slowing Mountain Dew growth. Coke's attempts to draw users away with divergent products like OK Soda or with similar ones like Mello Yello had not succeeded. Surge was intended to improve on Mountain Dew by using maltodextrin for a longer-lasting blast of energy and with bolder, brighter presentation. Its release was accompanied by a $50 million nationwide marketing campaign that led to high sales and popularity. A few years after the release, sales began to slip. Surge continued to be sold in vending machines, bottles, cans and as a fountains drink until its eventual discontinuation in 2003.
While preparations for the US launch were underway, a cry for help came in from the Norwegian Division, who were battling a successful launch of Mountain Dew in their market. Because the Surge brand was already registered by another firm, the product was launched as "Urge". Local food regulation prevented the bright green color being used, so it was launched with a pale, more natural juice drink look and given a slight orange taste to match the flavor with the color.
Until September 15, 2014, when Coca-Cola re-released Surge, Norway was the only country where one could still buy a similar soft drink in any form, as the original Surge recipe was still popular there.
Surge was widely associated with the extreme sports lifestyle, with television commercials similar to those used by Mountain Dew at the time. Coca-Cola also used provocative catchphrases to market Surge to extreme sports enthusiasts and teenagers alike. Some of these catchphrases included "Feed the Rush", "Life's a Scream" and the references to Surge as "A Fully Loaded Citrus Soda." Further touted was the fact that Surge had a considerable number of carbohydrates, hence the "with carbos" tagline that was occasionally used in the marketing campaigns to emphasize the fact that Surge was supposed to be more than a soda, but an energy drink as well.
After its inception, Surge's logo was updated and redesigned to a sharper and more modern look by a graphic designer/marketer Colin Nekritz.
After the discontinuation of Surge in cans, a community was formed by web designer Eric "Karks" Karkovack entitled "Save Surge". The community initially mapped the locations at which Surge could be purchased in fountain form. Upon cancellation of the fountain syrup, the community continued, adopting an approach of activism that led to the creation of the citrus soda Vault in June 2005. After Vault's release Karkovack announced the closure of SaveSurge.org. Vault was discontinued in 2011.
As a result of Vault's discontinuation, a group was started on Facebook called the "Surge Movement". The group repeatedly posted requests on Coca-Cola's Facebook page, and encouraged its members to call Coca-Cola's consumer affairs hotline at 1-800-GET-COKE to voice their desires further, once every month. The movement gained around 200,000 Facebook "likes" in the months after it was started and continues to grow.
On September 15, 2014, Surge was re-released as an Amazon.com exclusive in packs of twelve 16 oz cans.
On February 10, 2015, Coca-Cola announced that it had begun test-marketing Surge with independent resellers and vending machines across the Southeast United States. The test run ended in late-May 2015. Two months later, Coca-Cola announced that it was preparing for a large-scale Surge retail release across the Eastern United States. Surge was re-released at convenience stores across the Eastern United States on September 7, 2015.
Slushy versions Edit
On November 16, 2015, Burger King restaurants released a slushy version of the beverage called "Frozen Surge" as a limited edition slushy.
In late 2016, Valero Corner Stores partnered with Icee to release an Icee form of Surge at select locations.
On January 11, 2017, Cinemark theaters released a slushy version of the beverage called "Surge Frozen" for a limited time before being discontinued in Spring 2017.
Comparisons of Surge have been made to a later Coca-Cola product, Vault, which was first released in 2005—around two years after the discontinuation of Surge. Vault has also been discontinued as of December 2011. The two drinks are noted to have had similar taste, although Vault contained higher levels of caffeine at 70.5 mg per 12 fl. oz serving and contained artificial flavors in its recipe. The caffeine content of Surge was comparable to that of other citrus soft drinks in the American market during its time at 51 mg per 12 fl. oz serving.
Below is a listing of the ingredients of Surge, per the label on the canned and bottled versions, as well as the ingredient listings from both a Surge fountain syrup box, and a Surge Frozen Carbonated Beverage box. All four differ slightly; however, more information regarding the Surge formulation can be gleaned from both syrup variations, as they were to be mixed using a ratio of 4.4 parts cold, carbonated water to 1 part syrup.
|Surge Can/Bottle (1997-2006) ||Surge Fountain Syrup ||Surge FCB Syrup ||Surge Can (2015) |
|Carbonated Water||High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sucrose||High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sucrose||Carbonated Water|
|High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sucrose||Water||Water||High Fructose Corn Syrup|
|Citric Acid||Citric Acid||Citric Acid||Citric Acid|
|Natural flavors||Natural flavors||Natural flavors||Natural flavors|
|Concentrated Orange juice||Concentrated Orange Juice||Concentrated Orange Juice||Orange Juice Concentrate|
|Potassium Benzoate||Potassium Benzoate||Yucca Extract||Potassium Benzoate|
|EDTA and Erythorbic Acid||EDTA and Erythorbic Acid||Quillaia||Potassium Citrate|
|Potassium Citrate||Potassium Citrate||Potassium Benzoate||Caffeine|
|Caffeine||Caffeine||EDTA and Erythorbic Acid||Calcium Disodium EDTA|
|Yellow #5||Yellow #5||Potassium Citrate||Yellow #5|
|Yellow #6||Yellow #6||Caffeine||Yellow #6|
|Carob Bean Gum||Carob Bean Gum||Yellow #5||Carob Bean Gum|
|Blue #1||Blue #1||Yellow #6||Blue #1|
|Carob Bean Gum|
|Blue #1|| |