TNB Night Owl – Sodaburst

Grape-nut ice cream. Photo by Kristen Taylor.

There are a number of ways a product can go wrong, even if it has a good advertising budget and the strength of a popular brand behind it. Obviously there’s the possibility of it simply being a bad product; a food that doesn’t taste good, a game that’s boring or buggy, a car that breaks down regularly. Then there’s the matter of getting the wrong brand behind a product, such as with the Colgate toothpaste frozen meals. Sometimes there just isn’t demand for an item.

Then there are the times when all of those come together simultaneously. That’s when you get products like Sodaburst.

I know that most people aren’t sitting around on their porch thinking, “I could really go for an ice cream soda right now”, but for those who do, it’s not generally a hardship to pour some soda and plop a scoop of their chosen ice cream into it. In the early 1960s, a company decided that was too much work, so they decided to simplify it. They provided blocks of frozen carbonated syrup inside of which they packed an ice cream center. Consumers could put the block into a glass, pour some tap water in, and have an instant ice cream soda.

There were problems.

First, the carbonation resulting from the syrup left much to be desired, providing a mostly flat soda. Then, the ratio of water to syrup was meant to be fixed but would really vary depending on the cup used, with people filling the cup by default and getting watery or syrupy drinks with the wrong cup sizes. More, there was the competition: the four-pack of pre-made ice cream sodas took up as much space as a container of ice cream, from which (with a bottle from the fridge) far more than four ice cream sodas could be made. Lastly, there was the comparatively minor demand for ice cream sodas.

Perhaps all of this could have been overcome with a tandem effort by popular products… Coke and Breyer’s, for example. Instead, both soda and ice cream were provided by Bird’s Eye. Famed for their frozen vegetables, they’d decided to break into a new market. And when you think alternative market for healthy foods, you think… ice cream sodas.

But at least it gave us some commercials!

Question of the night: What are some particularly memorable commercials from your youth?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.