In a country dominated by Coke and Pepsi and its subsidiaries, it’s sometimes worth remembering that India had a long list of soft drinks inspired by the duopoly. Most of the ones on this list faded out for two primary reasons – one, because they couldn’t keep up when Coke and Pepsi entered the Indian market or two, they just launched really bad flavours. We decided to dig up some past soft drinks not just for nostalgic value but also to remember that great brands sometimes die out for more reasons than one. Get ready to be surprised by some of the names.
1) Gold Spot
Introduced in the Indian market in 1952, Gold Spot was one of the most popular soft drink in the country for a while. The orange flavored drink was a carbonated soft drink manufactured by Parle led by Ramesh Chauhan. Earlier named Gluco Cola, Parle had to change the name after Coca Cola objected to the name. Gold Spot was later named after Parle’s famous peppermint called Parle Gold Star. However, with the introduction of brands like Coca-Cola in the Indian market, the demand for Gold Spot eventually decreased before it was discontinued in the year 2000.
Owned by the same company as Gold Spot, Citra was sold in Indian markets in the 1980s. The lemon and lime flavoured soda was a clear drink that was also launched by Ramesh Chauhan. It was highly popular in Kerala and Northern parts of India. Citra was sold to the international brand Coca-Cola in 1993. Coca-Cola discontinued the selling of Citra and introduced their own drink called Sprite that had a similar taste.
Founded in 1916, Bovonto is a popular soft drink in the state of Tamil Nadu. Manufactured by Kali Aerated Water Works, this soft drink has a grape and cola flavour. Currently run by the fourth generation of the family, it’s been over 100 years since the drink first started selling. The company also used to produce other soft drinks such as Trio, Solo and Frutang but they haven’t had the same level of success as Bovonto that still remains one the most trusted soft drinks in the state of Tamil Nadu.
4) Bindu Jeera Fizz
In 1987, a small businessman named Satya Shankar who ran an automobile spare parts shop in the city of Puttur, Karnataka decided to expand his business interests. He launched packaged drinking water named Bindu Mineral Water. Later, inspired by Jal Jeera that he had on a visit to North India, he decided to experiment it with some soda thus giving rise to the very famous jeera drink named Bindu Jeera Fizz in 2002. However, the drink has been out of stock at major outlets since the past few months for unknown reasons.
5) Pepsi Blue
Pepsi Blue was introduced in Indian markets in 2003 during ICC World Cup. The blue colored drink had a berry flavor and was a rival product to Vanilla Coke manufactured by Coca Cola (more on that below). However, due to its fluctuating demand the drink was discontinued within a year of its launch.
6) Vanilla Coke
If you want to recall what Vanilla Coke tasted like, just try an Ice-cream float in which a glass of soft drink is served with a scoop of an ice-cream. Yes, back in the early 2000s Coke was sold in vanilla flavour. Vanilla Coke had Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi as its brand ambassador and the theme was retro with bright colors. The target audience was 17 to 19-year-olds but unfortunately they could not relate to the advertisements and the drink was soon discontinued.
7) Double Seven
This lemon-lime floured soft drink was manufactured and marketed by Modern Food Industries. The company was owned by Indian Government. In 1977, under the leadership of Morarji Desai Double Seven was launched. However, after Mr.Desai resigned, Indira Gandhi returned to power. Since 1977 was the year she lost the elections, the party was not interested in supporting a product that reminded them of their defeat, leading to the discontinuation of Double Seven. Subsequently, Modern Food Industries gradually fell and in the year 2000, Hindustan Lever Limited took over the company.
8) Vimto Cola
Vimto Cola was a berry flavored drink with a mixture of raspberry and blackcurrant flavors along with some herbs and spices. It was initially manufactured for medicinal purposes before being sold as a carbonated drink. The inventor of Vimto, John Noel Nichols, introduced the soft drink in India in 1920. India was the first international destination the drink was exported to and in 1924 Vimto became a registered trademark in India. In 2016, Vimto was all set to comeback in Indian market after Nichols Pvt. Ltd tied up with Iceberg Foods to manufacture and market the beverage in India.
Established in 1889 in Mumbai by Diswanji Cooverji Pandole, Duke and Sons Pvt. Ltd was known to manufacture aerated drinks with flavors such as orange, pineapple, lemonade, raspberry and mango. It remains popular amongst Mumbaikars to this day due to its wide flavor range and unique bottle shape. The 122-year-old company was later sold to PepsiCo in 1994 who discontinued some flavours. Duke’s Lemonade and Mangola flavored drink is still available in areas like Andheri, Chembur, Thane and Vashi in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
10) Bisleri’s Fizzy Options
Bisleri is known as the leading manufacturers of packaged drinking water based in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Some time ago, they decided to get into the aerated beverages space with some bold and innovative flavours. The company came up with few flavored drinks such as Bisleri Spyci, Bisleri Fonzo, Bisleri Limonata and Bisleri Pina Colada. Of these, only Bisleri Fonzo, a fizzy mango drink launched in 2018, is available today. The company’s other cola products combined unusual flavours that didn’t catch the public imagination.
11) Campa Cola
Created by the Pure Drinks Group in the 1970s, Campa Cola was created after Coca Cola was asked to leave the country by the government. The company, which was the sole manufacturer and distributor of Coke in India, saw the opportunity to replace Coca Cola with its Indian counterpart that they called Campa Cola. The drink quickly became popular because of lack of foreign competition but sales started declining once Coca Cola came back to India. Campa Cola tried to relaunch itself some years ago but suffice to say that its glory days are well past the company.
12) Roger’s Raspberry Soda
A must-have in Parsi households, raspberry sodas were ubiquitous at one point. Today, however just one company still makes the fizzy raspberry drink after Duke’s and Roger’s stepped down. At one point, Roger’s Raspberry Soda was commonly available though. There is a half-hearted attempt to bring back the brand in other flavours such as orange, jeera masala and ice cream soda apart from raspberry soda but as far as consumers are concerned, it might be a case of too little, too late.
As the story of these soft drinks illustrates, India had a rich mix of various flavours of soft drinks that have tremendous nostalgia value but little else currently. Are there any colas we’ve missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.
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Palak Khandelwal is a chai enthusiast and a writer on her journey to making a career in journalism