Elements Redux


Without a doubt, the most anticipated (and finally realized) revival in the soft drink world was Crystal Pepsi. Hated when we had it and loved when we didn’t, endless campaigning brought it back for a summer or two, and then everyone had their fill. I suppose Ecto-Cooler would be a close second, but getting that back came packaged with a movie starring unfunny women, so the cost was borderline excessive.

Another hopeful was Orbitz, and while I still have the bottles, and even a full one with the gelatin blobs, we’ve yet to see that return. What did come back was something a bit more obscure, but no less enjoyed by the xxx-treme Gen-X crowd of the late 90s.

I had to do a double take by the checkout aisle when I spotted them. I was a mix of emotions upon seeing the words ‘Elements’ on a Snapple bottle, almost second guessing if that was the brand that created them originally. Rain and Fire were the first once I saw, but a flyer in the regular drink aisle showed Air as well. About a week later those were available, while the first two disappeared. And then it was like it never happened.

I was equally saddened upon seeing the plain and unassuming plastic bottle that they came in, but more on that later. You see, back in the day they came in these giant glass obelisks complete with edgy fonts and artwork. They stood out, especially when all the colors were next to each other. True to their name, each represented one of the original elements back when you could count the periodic table on one hand even after a horrible axe throwing accident.

Fire, Air, Earth, and Rain (for water) were common, but I also have remnants of Meteor Apparently there were also flavors dedicated to the Sun, Voltage, Velocity, and Sparks. I don’t recall any of those, so I’m relying on Google images to refresh my memory. Hopefully they’re not deep fakes that will forever mar my long-term recollection.

I, like many other nostalgia peoples on the ‘net, tend to hold on to things. Bottles for example. When I saw that Elements were back, even in limited form, I knew I had to recreate the original experience as closely as I could. It’s hard to say if the modern formula is the same as it was, but a quick glance at the flavors show that they did attempt to match them.

Of the bottles I still have (with caps no less), Rain and Fire matched the re-releases. I do recall buying Air way back, but I guess I never kept the bottle. Of the remaining, Meteor and Earth didn’t make the cut, which is disappointing as grape would have been nice.

The first step was cleaning out 25 years’ worth of filth and decay. There was condensation in the bottles, and I’m fairly certain that was the result of the original drink. It’s apparently been acting as a self-contained biosphere for two and a half decades in fluctuating attic temperatures. It’s a wonder I didn’t release another plague upon the world by opening them.

But open I did. Some hot water did the trick, at least I assume. I wasn’t going to go too far out of my way for this project. When the inside seemed free of dark spots and blotches, I figured that was good enough.

Then it was time to pour the contents. The new ones are 15oz, while the original were 22. This resulted in only partially filled bottles. I could have used two, but I only had extras of Air, and that didn’t match. Then I chilled and served…to myself. Agave Cactus of Rain and Prickly Pear of Air stood out back during the original run, and appear to taste the same. I’m not sure if my taste bud memory is accurate, but it seemed to match well enough. Drinking out of the glass bottle is certainly a step up in any case.

Speaking of which, they call the new plastic container an ‘eco bottle’. I feel like we’re just being mocked at this point. Snapple was always in glass, even for the standard flavors, yet once the swap to plastic was made, they give us lip service about the environment. Pay no attention if it’s true or not.

Moving on. I found another curious discovery in a gas station. This one jumped out even more because it was exactly like I remembered. Clearly Canadian (or Canada Clear as my family called it), is back in the same teardrop glass bottle with more or less the same design and flavors.

I remember getting these in giant 12 packs and each family member would get one row. I’d always drink the Peach first since I didn’t like it, and save Western Loganberry for last. I did have an unopened bottle of that from 1990 for a while, but I can’t seem to find it. My only remaining intact bottle is a Blackberry, which is doing its best to get as dark as its namesake.

I guess things evolved even as my memory didn’t track the changes. Strawberry and Tangelo came out, and then a Clearly 2 followed. This was both a sequel and a calorie count. It’s weird seeing that NutraSweet logo. Along with Equal, those were the blue and pink sweetener packets you used to see before Splenda and Truvia. I think they caused cancer.

Tradition was abandoned after that and there was a rather ugly tall bottle that made it looks like a generic store brand.

As you can see, the new ones aren’t exactly like the originals, but you’d have to have them side-by-side in order to tell the difference. A maple leaf has been added, and the artwork is a bit more mobile friendly, despite the offline medium. Also cane sugar is used instead of corn syrup, so that’s one step in the right direction.