Orbitz: the king of duds

As a fat kid growing up in the Midwest, few things held as much appeal as the introduction of a new soft drink. I can’t remember the name of the girl I took to prom, but I can still name the restaurant where I first tasted Surge (Sophie’s Bakery, off Metcalf; it’s now a Buffalo Wild Wings) and I can still vividly recall trying Orbitz for the first time.

Now, the word Orbitz is synonymous with the travel Web site, but once it meant the best soft drink ever! That is, until you tasted it.

Created by Clearly Canadian (remember that?), Orbitz came in similar clear glass bottles and held floating colored orbs. You cannot possibly understand how cool it is for a 12-year-old to see colored sugar balls in liquid.

But Orbitz had an Achilles heel — it didn’t taste like soda. It wasn’t carbonated. It was supposedly fruit-flavored, but the couple I tried didn’t taste like fruit. Instead, Orbitz tasted chemical. I was so disappointed. But I kept drinking because of the balls. This was way before bubble tea rose to prominence, so anything that fused solid and liquid was cutting edge. But the orbs didn’t taste like much of anything. Orbitz was a dud.

Orbitz quickly disappeared from the market, and I had forgotten about it until Woman’s Day named it one of the seven biggest duds of all time, right up there with Coors sparkling water and Dorito’s 3D. The list is a walk down memory lane for many a product that had “failure” written on it from its introduction. Consider (again) the Heinz EZ Squirt ketchups in disgusting colors like purple and green.

But Orbitz stands out as a good idea done poorly. Add it to my soda sentimentality.

(Image via Flickr: Road Side Pictures)

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink