Back in 1996, before anyone used Orbitz.com to book flights and hotels, the website hawked a brand-new soft drink called Orbitz, which looked like a lava lamp in a 300ml bottle.
The fruity, noncarbonated drink was dotted with chewy, gravity-defying colored gel “orbs” suspended in a support matrix of gellan gum. The names of the flavors, which included raspberry citrus, vanilla orange, and pineapple banana cherry coconut, were emblazoned on the bottles in a funky mix of upper and lowercase letters.
The “out-of-this-world” drink from “Planet Orbitz” was the brainchild of the Clearly Canadian Beverage Corporation, known for its flavored waters. Orbitz sold well enough over its first few months to merit distribution across the United States, but by 1999, its popularity had stalled, and the company discontinued it.
What caused the drink’s demise? Many consumers balked at the idea of chewable objects in a beverage. (This was before tapioca-laden bubble tea became popular in North America.) And aside from the divisive orbs, many just thought the drink didn’t taste good.
Since going into retirement, Orbitz has developed a cult following. “Every tenth, eleventh, twelfth email we get is someone asking for Orbitz,” a Clearly Canadian representative told News-Press.com in 2015. Unfortunately for Orbitz lovers, the company no longer has the equipment needed to make the drink. “We are looking into it but there is a real technological problem,” the rep said.
Until then, fans will have to quench their thirst for nostalgia on eBay, where a single unopened bottle of decades-old Orbitz can sell for around $50. You may be wondering whether really old soda tastes okay. But Orbitz fans focus on other concerns. That’s why Clearly Canadian brags on its website: “Have you seen a bottle from 1997? The balls are still floating! NO JOKE.”