If you weren’t around in 1994 or had better things to drink than charcoal-filtered lager, you probably don’t remember Zima. Then again, how many other beverages have gotten an obituary?
A product of the clear drink craze, Zima was a massive hit for a couple years in the mid-‘90s but eventually fizzled out in 2008 for reasons including this gem from the Japan Times, the only country where it’s still available: “Many men avoided it as if it was bottled estrogen.”
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But where Zima was based on a passing fad, the thirst for new drinking options is real. People are dropping soda for sparkling water. And unlike in the time of Zima, which was malt-based, we are living in a post-gluten age. This week, those two ideas combined in a new drink, Truly Spiked & Sparkling, whose kick comes from fermented cane sugar (5 percent ABV) and is sweetened with natural flavors. Calorie-conscious drinkers will find only 100 calories, 2 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar per bottle.
Currently, it comes in three flavors: Colima Lime, Grapefruit & Pomelo, and Pomegranate. We tried the latter — it has none of the medicinal tang of Zima or the bitterness of vodka, and is pleasantly sweet without the need to dissolve a Jolly Rancher in it (not that anyone did that with Zima in college).
Best of all, it’s not trying to convert beer drinkers like Zima did in this 1994 ad featuring a gaslighting bartender: