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For other uses, see Zima (disambiguation).
Type Malt beverage
Manufacturer Coors Brewing Company
Country of origin U.S.
Introduced 1993
Discontinued U.S. 2008
Proof 10
Variants Citrus, Tangerine, Pineapple Citrus
Related products Smirnoff Ice

Zima is a clear, lightly carbonated, alcoholic beverage, that was made and distributed by the Coors Brewing Company. Introduced in 1993, it was marketed as an alternative to beer, an early example of what is now often referred to as alcopop. Its production in the United States ceased in October 2008, but it is still marketed in Japan.[1]


Zima means "winter" in Slavic languages. TV writer Jane Espenson came up with the name.[2] 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.[3] 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.[3]

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;[3] the myths were alleged to have improved the beverage's popularity among teenagers.[4]

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.[3] The Chicago Tribune quoted distributors ordered to stock "caffeinated alcoholic beverage Sparks on retail store shelves to make up for Zima’s absence".[5]

Competitors to Zima in the U.S. have included Miller's Qube and Stroh's Clash, which are no longer made today. In 2000, Smirnoff launched Smirnoff Ice, which outsold Zima in its later years.

In the late 2000s, the beverage was marketed in three additional flavors: citrus, tangerine, and pineapple citrus.[3] In addition, blackberry and green apple flavors were also marketed.

On October 20, 2008, MillerCoors LLC announced that it had discontinued production of Zima in the U.S., choosing instead to focus on other "malternative" beverages.[3]


  1. ^ "ZIMA". Gigazine. 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  2. ^ Pop My Culture podcast 76
  3. ^ a b c d e f Koerner, Brendan (November 26, 2008). "The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima". Slate. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara (October 26, 2008). "Take My Breath Away". Snopes.
  5. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/keyword/millercoors/recent/4

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