I started thinking about Boku tonight. Not sure why. There isn’t a lot of information about Boku online, save for the innumerable mentions of its ad campaign, which starred funnyman Richard Lewis as just the right guy to bridge the juice box gap between kids and adults. I really don’t remember much about those ads, surprisingly, but I certainly remember Boku.
The early 90s brought with it a proliferation of “let’s try this” beverages, and by that I’m referring to drinks with marketing strategies that hadn’t truly been tested before. I remember being totally floored by stupid things like Mistic’s line of bottled fruity drinks, because they looked like water and tasted like liquid Starburst. Common now, but at the time, our collective consciousness was knocked into unconsciousness by the deliciousness of these new beveragenesses. Within this mighty gamut of wet new competitors, Boku stood out as a true original.
Basically, Boku was a collection of drink boxes for the older crowd. At least, that’s how it was marketed. To differentiate Boku from Ssips and the many other kiddie drinks, the boxes were taller, slenderer and just more adult looking overall. Though Boku boxes ultimately caved into pressure and became more colorful and loud, when they first launched, I distinctly remember buying them in really odd, mostly white boxes with just a few touches of color. The flavors were also aged up — instead of grape, you got “white grape.” I would describe their appeal as being along the lines of nonalcoholic wine.
Wait. I can’t believe “slenderer” is really the correct plural of “slender.” Spellcheck says it is.
The biggest change of all? No straws. At least, not initially. I’m betting that parent company McCain ultimately stopped trying to be so damn rebellious, but when I was buying Boku, it didn’t come with a straw. It just had this foil “slip” that could be peeled away to reveal a much larger drinking hole than was the norm for juice boxes. I don’t really get why they were so adamant about giving juice boxes an adult spin, but I think dropping the straw was crossing a line that juice boxes should never cross. Sure, I was young when I drank these, but I don’t think you need a college education to drink stuff without spilling it. Between the gaping drinking hole, slenderer (I still can’t believe that’s correct) boxes and lack of straw, Boku tended to spill like spilling was the in thing.
When I was in whatever grade I was in, I attached a milk crate to my bike’s handlebars. That same week, I was finally given permission to ride to the few stores that were in a negotiable biking distance from my house. So, armed with rights and a milkcrate, I spent many summer afternoons going to this shitty little deli a few blocks away, loading my crate with Boku and chips and the occasional copy of Weekly World News, and riding home like a big boy.