I’m here to tell you about the sexiest Pepsi can ever.
That’s it, right there. It was one of the four Pepsi “Cool Cans” released in the summer of 1990. The soda was the same, but the cans were given various pop art makeovers to make them more attractive to younger demos.
Special edition can designs are nothing by today’s standards, but I was in the fifth grade when this hit, and I can confirm that Cool Cans were a very big deal. Especially this one, which was such a dramatic departure from the norm.
We loved that black can, and we loved it even more after discovering its saucy secret:
Yes, this is the infamous “SEX” can, which I’m guessing most of you have heard of before. (I mean, if you were reading Snopes back when it was less about fact-checking political statements and more about that one guy who had bugs growing out of his head, you definitely did.)
The thought was that if you stacked two of these cans in just the right way, the abstract highlights spelled out “SEX.”
Through old man eyes, I see it for what it is: Nothing. The “E” doesn’t cooperate with the theory, and for me, Pepsi’s insistence that this was coincidental rings true.
But man, back in the fifth grade? We were all-in! Cool Cans debuted in May of 1990, and for the last two months of school, Pepsi was pretty much all we drank at lunch.
Bringing soda to school was unusual, but Cool Cans really were that popular. And knowing that you could stack your can on top of some other kid’s can to form a kinda/sorta dirty word was reason enough to look forward to class.
The intrigue wasn’t limited to the schoolyard. Newspapers across the country covered Pepsi’s “SEX” can fiasco. Most of those articles included full denials from Pepsi, but the headlines became the reality. As far as Average Joe was concerned, Pepsi was officially sexy.
Course, no matter how firm Pepsi’s denials were, they benefited from the rumor. Cool Cans were specifically invented to swipe teen market sales from Coca-Cola, and to that end, a subliminally hot soda can wasn’t the worst tool.
This story is all over the internet, but what most miss is just how huge Cool Cans were even aside from the “SEX” thing. Pepsi owned the summer of 1990, and that’s coming from a lifelong Coke loyalist.
It wasn’t the first time soda cans got limited edition makeovers, but it was the first time that it really counted. Holding one of those cans was like wearing the coolest band’s t-shirt. They were as much fashion accessories as drinking vessels.
Cool Cans even had their own television commercial, featuring a custom song from Young MC. We spent the entire summer singing that jingle, right down to the “mmm hmm aahhh” background vocals.
So yeah, these weirdo Pepsi cans were a big part of my childhood, and the fact that one of them spelled half of “SEX” made them an even bigger part.
Thank you for reading about Pepsi Cool Cans, the hypest receptacles of the ‘90s.