I promise, this is the last time I’ll ever write about Ecto Cooler. Bear with me. I’m obsessed.
You might remember this post from late June, where I mentioned Hi-C’s “Orange Lavaburst” flavor as being a reincarnated Ecto Cooler. I didn’t solve the mystery myself, but after repeatedly reading fans’ cries, I gave the fruity juice a shot and agreed. From where I sat — in a broken chair littered with cig burns and what appeared to be nail polish — Orange Lavaburst was Ecto Cooler. Or was it?
For those who’ve forgotten, “Ecto Cooler” was a Hi-C juice brand with Slimer of The Real Ghostbusters fame on the box. Though Hi-C has gotten a bit wackier with their flavor names over the years, Ecto Cooler was the first “novelty” drink in the line. Kids went nuts for the shit. This was a fad that transcended our usual young geeky interests, as children didn’t really have to be into toys or cartoons to get down with the Ecto. Regardless of what you felt about Ghostbusters, few were going to skip the one juice box with a mysteriously vague name and a green monster on the box.
The beverage outlived all other Ghostbusters novelties, delivering Slimer to a generation of kids who’d barely even heard of his offshoot cartoon. Unfortunately, like Chris Elliot sitcoms and “Quackers” snack crackers, all good things come to an end. Ecto Cooler eventually disappeared, leaving behind a legion of fans who weren’t quite ready to give up a taste they’d inadvertently become addicted to. We bought the juice because of Slimer, but somewhere along the way, we got hooked on the flavor.
That’s where it gets interesting…
I claimed that “Orange Lavaburst” was Ecto Cooler Version II, and many seemed to agree. Others were skeptical, and with good reason. They argued that Ecto Cooler was back, but not as Orange Lavaburst. No, if these naysayers were to be believed, Ecto Cooler was reborn as an entirely different brand of Hi-C juice. Today, we experiment to uncover the truth. Which current Hi-C flavor is really Ecto Cooler?
According to some, “Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen” is the new Ecto Cooler. Their many arguments include the following:
1) Shoutin’ Tangergreen has a strong emphasis on…well, “green.” Ostensibly, “green” equals “Slimer.”
2) Many remember Ecto Cooler as having “tangerine” as part of the flavor cornucopia. Shoutin’ Tangergreen shares that trait, Orange Lavaburst does not. 😛
3) Lavaburst’s “box icon” is a simple orange. Tangergreen’s icon is a ghastly, deep green “mouth.” Obviously, green mouths seem more in tune with Slimer than a silly orange.
Admittedly, I seem to recall viewing a few Ecto Cooler ads in print that played up the citrus mix of oranges and tangerines. This factored with the new flavor’s “green scheme” painted my previous posts as efforts in STUPAD IGNORAAAACE, but hey, let’s find out for sure this time. Here’s the listed ingredients for both flavors, with the differences highlighted in bold…
Orange Lavaburst: Pure Filtered Water, Sweeteners (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar), Orange Juice From Concentrate, Less Than 0.5% Of Each: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate (Regulates Tartness), Citric Acid (Provides Tartness).
Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen: Pure Filtered Water, Sweeteners (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar), Orange And Tangerine Juice From Concentrate, Less Than 0.5% Of Each: Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate (Regulates Tartness), Citric Acid (Provides Tartness).
So, what have we established? Aside from a modicum of tangerine juice, they’re exactly the same. I refuse to accept that the key to this mystery lies solely in a vial of concentrated tangerine juice, so our champion remains undetermined. Perhaps it’s time we compared each flavor’s color. If there’s one thing people seem to remember about Ecto Cooler, it’s the unmistakable neon green hue…
Hmmmm — virtually no difference at all. In fact, I can’t honestly say if Ecto Cooler itself was green. The ads certainly suggested that, but edibles are often “dolled up” for those campaigns. Plus, I’ve seen firsthand that even the truly “colored” Hi-C flavors lose their sheen after a given amount of time. To avoid staining rugs and clothes, Minute Maid never added the type of food dyes you’ve grown accustomed to with something like, say, M&Ms. The tint is almost always natural these days, and though I can’t prove it, it’s possible that Ecto Cooler was only “green” in our Father Time-sweetened memories. Or was it?! Again?!
The Star Trek Connection?
While I’ll solemnly admit to spending a little too much time searching for information regarding the Juice in Question, my findings were few and far between. I’ve been doing this site for a long time, and I don’t think many readers would deny that I’ve probably spent more time researching “that” generation’s fads than most people. During my travels, I’ve learned that there’s a tribute for just about anything. Even the truly obscure stuff usually has some free-hosted, five-year-old tribute if you look hard enough. Yet, there’s very, very little about Ecto Cooler. Plus, the people who have written about it contradict each other with misshapen and sometimes incorrect recollections. For a fruit juice, there’s a lot of intrigue attached to good ol’ Ecto. I did find one trivia nugget, though:
In “Relics,” an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, there’s a futuristic cocktail known as “Aldebaran Whiskey.” If the rumors are true, they used Ecto Cooler as a prop to illustrate the whiskey’s green hue.
A ha! So it was green after all! You know what this means, right? Even if Shoutin’ Tangergreen or Orange Lavaburst perfectly mimic Slimer’s sludge in taste, neither are true clones. As you can see in the above pic, they’re both pale piss yellow.
But which of the two comes the closest? Personally, I’m still siding with Lavaburst. It’s got this odd aftertaste that I just can’t overlook — if I remember my Ecto Cooler correctly, it had the exact same punch. Tangergreen seems like the natural predecessor, but in reality, the difference between the two current flavors is almost too negligible to weigh. Few would find success in naming each for a blind taste test, so in terms of championing a “new” Ecto Cooler, it’s really up to the specific person.
Mystery solved? Not quite, and maybe that’s for the best. If there’s one thing Ecto Cooler had going for it, it’s that the beverage was truly one of a kind. Us fans might love the idea of being able to still drink it whenever we want, but the real stuff took a powder right along Slimer and his ghostbusting pals. Besides, just when you think you have the answers, further research brings more questions — check out this Usenet post from early 2000; a response to an Ecto inquiry…
Subject: Re: Hi-C Ecto Cooler?
“It is still made and still called Ecto-Cooler. The only difference is they have taken Slimer and replaced him with an orange surrounded by rings of some sort. I’m drinking one right now.”
The plot thickens….