Anyone who grew up in the 80s probably had Ecto Cooler in their lunchbox at one time or another. Some may have even used the toxic-green beverage as currency — conducting lopsided lunchroom trades with the kid who wasn’t allowed to have sugar.
Regardless of the juice’s hypnotic and addictive properties, the backstory of Ecto Cooler is intriguing to say the least. And, the fact that it was marketed as orange/tangerine-flavored, but was fluorescent green in color, isn’t even the strangest thing about it.
In 1986 — trying to suckle the last drops from the Ghostbusters teat — an animated series titled The Real Ghostbusters was created. Knowing full well that the best way to market to kids is to get them sugar-high — Ecto Cooler was created as a product tie-in to the series.
Ecto Cooler was an immediate and smashing success. Although it was only supposed to last as long as the series, it endured for a decade after the show’s cancellation. However, the original marketing strategy was rather sneaky, and mind-numbingly lazy.
The Ecto Conspiracy
If we look back a bit further, there was once a Hi-C product called Citrus Cooler. Apologies for lack of photo evidence, but it appears to have been systematically destroyed to thwart the conspiracy theorists. Nonetheless, Citrus Cooler did exist — that was until some marketing dolts needed a quick and easy gimmick to sell their cartoon.
The pitch was simple — place the cute green ghost ‘Slimer‘ on the box, change ‘Citrus’ to ‘Ecto,’ conveniently forget that Citrus Cooler ever existed, product tie-in achieved. And because we are all suckers for packaging, the farce continued into the next decade. The problem was, this new generation of juice box drinkers would have no idea what a Ghostbuster was.
Fearing that Slimer had overstayed his welcome — and in another swift and lazy move — Hi-C did away with Ecto Cooler altogether. Or, at least it’s what they wanted us to think.
The identical formula, in all its neon green glory, was about to be repackaged yet again as “Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen” — even though Hi-C would deny that it was the same formula. Some conspiracy theorists however, would not rest until the mystery was solved.
Although the Hi-C drinking public should have been outraged, at least the name “Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen” finally addressed its contradictory flavor and color combination — even though it now had the dumbest product name in recorded history.
It all came full circle in 2007, when Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen was no longer worthy of the title. It was discontinued and renamed… wait for it… ‘Crazy Citrus Cooler.’
UPDATE: They’re bringing it back!!