Surge (soft drink)

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Original and second logo
Original and second logo on cans
Left: 1996–1999 and 2014–present logo
Right: 1999–2003 logo
Type Citrus soda
Manufacturer The Coca-Cola Company
Country of origin United States
Introduced 1997
2014 (Amazon-exclusive)
Discontinued 2003 (US)
Color Light Green
Related products Citra/Fanta Citrus
Mello Yello
Mountain Dew
Sun Drop

Surge (sometimes styled as SURGE) is a soft drink developed by the New Products team at Coca Cola Atlanta in 1996–97. Surge was first produced by The Coca-Cola Company to compete with Pepsi's Mountain Dew during the 1990s. Surge was advertised as having a more "hardcore" edge, much like Mountain Dew's advertising at this time, in an attempt to further take customers away from Pepsi. It was originally launched in Norway as Urge, and was so popular that it was later released in America as Surge. Until 2014, Norway was the only country that still sells Urge or Surge. Although lagging sales caused production to be ended in 2003, popular fan bases such as Facebook's "SURGE Movement" led Coca-Cola to re-release the popular soft drink on September 15, 2014.[1] Surge is currently being sold via "Prime" in 12-packs of 16 oz. cans. In February 2015, Coca-Cola initiated a test market for the beverage in stores primarily in the Southeastern United States, and concluded in May 2015. Some locations outside of the test region have also been found to sell Surge. Surge was re-released to stores in the Southeast, Northeast, and parts of the Midwest United States in September 2015.


Early years[edit]

Urge: the Norwegian variant of Surge

In 1996, Coca-Cola started production of Surge in the United States, with its original whitepaper name being "MDK," or "Mountain Dew Killer."[2] It was developed to converge with Mello Yello as a means of slowing Mountain Dew growth. Coke's attempts to draw users away with divergent products like OK Soda or with similar ones like Mello Yello had not succeeded. Surge was intended to improve on Mountain Dew by using maltodextrin for a longer lasting blast of energy and with bolder brighter presentation. Its release was accompanied by a 50 million dollar nationwide marketing campaign that led to initially high sales and popularity. A few years after the release, sales began to slip, and as a result the Coca-Cola company ceased production of Surge in can and bottle form in 2002. They proceeded to discontinue Surge fountain syrup in 2003.[citation needed]

While preparations for the US launch were underway, a cry for help came in from the Norwegian Division, who were battling a successful launch of Dew in their market. Because the Surge brand was already registered by another party, the product was launched as "Urge". Local food regulation prevented the bright green colour being used, so it was launched with a pale more natural juice drink look and given a slight orange taste to match the flavor with the color.

Until September 15, 2014, when Coca-Cola re-released Surge, Norway was the only country where one could still buy a similar soft drink in any form, as the original Urge recipe is still popular there.[3]

Surge was widely associated with the extreme sports lifestyle, with television commercials similar to those used by Mountain Dew at the time.[4] Coca-Cola also used provocative catchphrases to market Surge to extreme sports enthusiasts and teenagers alike. Some of these catchphrases included "Feed the Rush", "Life's a Scream" and the references to Surge as "A Fully Loaded Citrus Soda." Further touted was the fact that Surge had a considerable number of carbohydrates, hence the "with carbos" tagline that was occasionally used in the marketing campaigns to emphasize the fact that Surge was supposed to be more than a soda, but an energy drink as well.[5]

After its inception, Surge's logo was updated and redesigned to a sharper and more modern look by a graphic designer/marketer Colin Nekritz.[2]


In 1997 Coca-Cola settled trademark dispute with Babson Bros., an industrial cleaning product company whose cow-milking machine has been known as Surge since 1925.[6]


After the discontinuation of Surge in cans, a community was formed by web designer Eric "Karks" Karkovack entitled "Save Surge". The community initially mapped the locations at which Surge could be purchased in fountain form. Upon cancellation of the fountain syrup, the community continued, adopting an approach of activism that led to the creation of the citrus soda Vault in June 2005.[5] Vault was discontinued in 2011.

As a result of Vault's discontinuation, a group was started on Facebook called the "Surge Movement". The group repetitively posted requests on Coca-Cola's Facebook page, and encouraged its members to call Coca-Cola's consumer affairs hotline at 1-800-GET-COKE to voice their desires further, once every month. The movement gained around 200,000 Facebook "likes" in the months after it was started and continues to grow.[7]

On September 15, 2014, Surge was re-released as an Amazon exclusive in packs of twelve 16 oz cans.[8]

On February 10, 2015, Coca Cola announced that it had begun test-marketing Surge with independent resellers and vending machines across the Southeast United States. Coca Cola plans to re-introduce Surge to other regions in the US pending successful sales in test markets. The test run ended in late-May 2015.

On July 30th, 2015, Coca-Cola announced that it was preparing for a large-scale Surge retail release across the Eastern United States. Surge was re-released at convenience stores across the Eastern United States on September 7, 2015.


Comparisons of Surge have been made to a more recent Coca-Cola product, Vault, which was first released in 2005—around four years after the discontinuation of Surge. Vault has also been discontinued as of December 2011. The two drinks are noted to have had similar taste, although Vault contained higher levels of caffeine at 70.5 mg per 12 fl. oz serving and contained artificial flavors in its recipe. The caffeine content of Surge was comparable to that of other citrus soft drinks in the American market during its time at 51 mg per 12 fl. oz serving.[9]

Below is a listing of the ingredients of Surge, per the label on the canned and bottled versions, as well as the ingredient listings from both a Surge fountain syrup box, and a Surge Frozen Carbonated Beverage box. All four differ slightly; however, more information regarding the Surge formulation can be gleaned from both syrup variations, as they were to be mixed using a ratio of 4.4 parts cold, carbonated water to 1 part syrup.[10]

Surge Can/Bottle (1996-2003) [11] Surge Fountain Syrup [12] Surge FCB Syrup [10] Surge Can (2015) [13]
Carbonated Water High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sucrose High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sucrose Carbonated Water
High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sucrose Water Water High Fructose Corn Syrup
Maltodextrin Maltodextrin Maltodextrin Maltodextrin
Citric Acid Citric Acid Citric Acid Citric Acid
Natural flavors Natural flavors Natural flavors Natural flavors
Concentrated Orange juice Concentrated Orange Juice Concentrated Orange Juice Orange Juice Concentrate
Potassium Benzoate Potassium Benzoate Yucca Extract Potassium Benzoate
EDTA and Erythorbic Acid EDTA and Erythorbic Acid Quillaia Potassium Citrate
Potassium Citrate Potassium Citrate Potassium Benzoate Caffeine
Caffeine Caffeine EDTA and Erythorbic Acid Calcium Disodium EDTA
Yellow #5 Yellow #5 Potassium Citrate Yellow #5
Yellow #6 Yellow #6 Caffeine Yellow #6
Carob Bean Gum Carob Bean Gum Yellow #5 Carob Bean Gum
Blue #1 Blue #1 Yellow #6 Blue #1
    Carob Bean Gum  
    Blue #1  

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maheshwari,Sapna. "Coca-Cola Is Bringing Surge Back". Retrieved 2014-09-15. 
  2. ^ a b Nekritz, Colin. "A Logo is More than a Logo – Surge Soda". Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  3. ^ "Coca-Cola Norway website". Coca-Cola. Retrieved 2010-03-22. 
  4. ^ "YouTube – Surge Barrels of Fun Commercial". Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  5. ^ a b "". Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  6. ^ "Coke settles dispute over Surge trademark". Southeast Missourian. January 24, 1997. p. 6B. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ "SURGE MOVEMENT". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  8. ^ Alter, Charlotte (September 2014). "Coca-Cola Is Bringing Back SURGE". Time. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  9. ^ "How Much Caffeine is in Vault?". Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  10. ^ a b "Surge FCB Syrup". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  11. ^ Parnell,Matt. "Matt Parnell's Brain: Plugged In! – Surge and Vault". Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  12. ^ "Surge Fountain Syrup". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  13. ^ "Surge Ingredients and Nutritional Information - Coca-Cola". Retrieved 2015-09-25. 

External links[edit]