Midway through Thanksgiving, the news broke: Coca-Cola has renewed its trademark for Ecto Cooler, signaling mass speculation that the ghoulish green beverage just might be returning as part of the Ghostbusters reboot push.
This trademark renewal does not in of itself guarantee Ecto Cooler’s return, but given the timing, it sure sounds that way! Besides, many of us already felt that this was a can’t-miss opportunity and a now-or-never situation: Ghostbusters is suddenly a very hot brand again, and interest in Ecto Cooler is at an all-time high.
I suspect that official word with trickle down soon enough, but given that the whole internet is presently ablaze with Ecto Cooler excitement, I don’t see how they couldn’t do it now. This, of course, is the biggest motherfucking news in the history of everything.
As many of you know, Ecto Cooler has been the “totem item” of everything I’ve done online for the past 15 years. If it’s indeed on its way back, I thought now would be the perfect time to walk you through the (mostly) complete history of this magnificent, galvanizing beverage…
(The first edition of the juice box!)
Hi-C Ecto Cooler was born in late 1989. While most have attributed this to the success of The Real Ghostbusters, the drink’s arrival seems equally linked to the theatrical debut of Ghostbusters II. In any event, between the animated series and the live action sequel, Slimer’s popularity was booming. (You’ll notice that Ecto Cooler was promoted more as “Slimer’s drink” than a “Ghostbusters drink.”)
Less known is that this actually wasn’t some wholly new flavor from Hi-C. In fact, Ecto Cooler was merely a rebranding of their existing Citrus Cooler Drink, which looked and tasted exactly the same, and was even spotted in television commercials mere months before Ecto Cooler hit the shelves!
(The best television commercial ever?)
The mix of orange and tangerine fruit juices was pleasant enough, but it was really the idea of this being edible ectoplasm that drove us wild. For people of certain ages and inclinations, Ecto Cooler was the tie that bound us all. We gravitated towards it as if by supernatural forces.
(Newspaper article from 1989.)
Ecto Cooler was an unusual success story. Conceived as the sort of promotional tie-in that generally has a short shelf life, the drink managed to stay in production until at least 1997!
That means that during the lull between The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters, when very little was being done with the Ghostbusters brand, Slimer was somehow STILL pleading his case from ten billion Hi-C labels.
(Big can from Ecto Cooler’s later years!)
The drink’s extended production run also meant that multiple generations had a chance to grow obsessed with it. There are people more than a decade younger than me who knew Ecto Cooler just as personally as I did!
(This drink was a star!)
In effect, this was more than a simple “tie-in,” at least the by the definitions that we normally mean. Ecto Cooler was a legitimately established Hi-C flavor, as ubiquitous as Cherry or Fruit Punch.
As discussed in this older Dino Drac article, Ecto Cooler’s scope and tenure provided it with the chance to randomly turn up in a number of TV shows and movies. It popped up on ALF, it appeared in The Willies, and it was even allegedly used as a color-appropriate stand-in for a fictitious whiskey on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Much more recently, Ecto Cooler was seen on The Goldbergs, as another of the show’s long list of tributes to yesteryear’s best nonsense.
(Secret new beginnings!)
Even by the time I started X-E in 2000, people were already clamoring for Ecto Cooler’s return. Little did we know that it was right under our noses!
It turned out that Hi-C hadn’t entirely killed the flavor, but simply renamed it. Ecto Cooler lived on under other titles for several years, ranging from Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen to Crazy Citrus Cooler.
And no, we didn’t make these connections as hope shots. The lists of ingredients on those later drinks were identical to Ecto Cooler’s!
(In fact, when you purchased Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen in stores even as late as 2003, it would turn up on your store receipt AS Ecto Cooler!)
(This is gross, but I needed it.)
As thrilling as it was to drink Ecto Cooler again in its renamed form, it just wasn’t the same without Slimer. I’m one of many fans who took to collecting old boxes and bottles of the stuff, no matter if they were empty, dingy or filled with what looked like raw sewage.
Up until now, Ecto Cooler collecting has been riotously competitive, with pristine bottles and boxes fetching up to 400 dollars — and sometimes even much more!
(Still-sealed 9-pack from 1994!)
And now, it’s probably coming back.
To some of you, the hysteria seems ridiculous. I get that. All I can tell you is that when something as seemingly trivial as a juice box has the power to make such a large portion of the world hold hands and half-hug, that “something” is super crazy special. Much as it was when we were kids, Ecto Cooler is again the tie that binds us.
Welcome home, Ecto Cooler.
(This better not be bullshit.)
FEBRUARY 2016 UPDATE: Nope, it’s not bullshit.