|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2009)|
|Manufacturer||Coors Brewing Company|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
|Variants||Citrus, Tangerine, Pineapple Citrus|
|Related products||Smirnoff Ice|
Zima is a clear, lightly carbonated, alcoholic beverage, that is made and distributed by the Coors Brewing Company, ultimately MillerCoors. Introduced in 1993, it was marketed not as a beer, but as an alternative to beer, an early example of what is now often referred to as alcopop. Its domestic production ceased in October 2008, but it is still marketed in Japan.
Zima means "winter" in Slavic languages. TV writer Jane Espenson came up with the name. It was launched nationally in the United States as Zima Clearmalt in 1993 after being test-marketed two years earlier in the cities of Nashville, Sacramento, and Syracuse. The lemon-lime drink was part of the "clear craze" of the 1990s that produced products such as Crystal Pepsi and Tab Clear. The slogans used in early advertisements for Zima were "a truly unique alcohol beverage" and "Zomething different".
Zima offered an alternative to the then-successful wine cooler category, and it became very popular. Coors spent $50 million marketing Zima in its first year, persuading nearly half of American alcohol drinkers to try it. Brandweek magazine reported that at Zima's peak in 1994, 1.2 million barrels of the beverage were sold. Originally popular among young women, Coors made its first attempt at attracting young men to the brand in 1995 by marketing Zima Gold, an amber-colored beverage that promised a "taste of bourbon"; the drink was unpopular and disappeared from store shelves within the year.
Zima was associated with rumors claiming that the beverage did not contain alcohol or that its alcohol content would not register on alcohol-breath-test equipment; the myths were alleged to have improved the beverage's popularity among teenagers.
In describing "The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima", writer Brendan Koerner cited Zima's perceived reputation as a "girly-man" beverage and its persistent parodization by late-night TV host David Letterman. The Chicago Tribune quoted distributors ordered to stock "caffeinated alcoholic beverage Sparks on retail store shelves to make up for Zima’s absence".
In the late 2000s, the beverage was marketed in three additional flavors: citrus, tangerine, and pineapple citrus. In addition, black cherry and green apple flavors were also marketed.
On October 20, 2008, MillerCoors LLC announced that it had discontinued production of Zima, choosing instead to focus on other "malternative" beverages.