In my ongoing quest to shed light on humanity’s flaws, poor decision-making capabilities and love of talentless musicians, I present an occasional column debuting in 2007: The Worst Ideas Ever. The Worst Ideas Ever is about exactly what you think it is: the dumbest most drug-addled things that mankind has ever produced. With that in mind, what better to kick off this column than one of the worst ideas of all-time: Crystal Pepsi.

Crystal Fucking Pepsi. Wow. Just thinking about Pepsi’s decision to bring out a colorless caffeine-free version of regular Pepsi can induce hysterical laughter, as over 10 years after the fact, it easily remains one of the most inane things a major corporation has ever done. Forget about New Coke. At least that was a concept that had an idea behind it: i.e. that regular Coke was losing its market share and a formula change might boost sales. But Crystal Pepsi had no such logical underpinning. Instead, its sole reason for being seemed predicated on the half-baked idea that Americans would want to purchase a beverage that tasted exactly like Pepsi but looked like 7-Up. Genius.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t even a diet-cola. Nor did it seem to trouble Pepsi executives that they already offered regular Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Pepsi and Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi, all of them inferior to their Coca-Cola versions. Yet some enlightened scholar decided that the artificial colorings that had worked just fine for 80 years were suddenly obsolete. I imagine the same nefarious early 90s executive to also have been the culprit for Zubaz Pants, Cross Colours, Vanilla Ice and taking Yo! MTV Raps off the air. Just because. After all, it was the early 90’s, the Berlin Wall had collapsed, and nothing but limitless peace, prosperity and colorless soda loomed in our future.

Perhaps the most awesomely bad thing about Crystal Pepsi was its advertising campaign, which featured 30 second spots to the tune of Van Halen’s “Right Now.” See below.

As you can see from the ads, the makers of Crystal Pepsi feebly strain for gravitas, by flashing a bunch of non sequiturs on-screen over the dinosaur stomp of Hagar-era Van Halen’s “Right now.” Yes, “Right Now,” in all it’s cheesy synths, arrogant guitars and arena-rock glory. As though Pepsi wanted you to believe that by merely removing color from its flagship beverage, your life would be mind-blowingly altered. And about 7 people believed it.

Adding insult to injury, the ad might be the only thing worse than the product, riddled with nothing but flashing statements like: “Right Now, Nature’s Inventing Better Stuff than Science.” (Subtext: Mother Nature hatched Crystal Pepsi from Her Womb); “Right Now, the Future’s One Step Ahead of You” (Subtext: Crystal Pepsi can and will stop time) ” and “Right Now, Will Do Fine Without Caffeine” (Subtext: We Will Lie to You and You Will Like It). It also features a shot of a man of a neon Red Speedo diving into a bunch of clouds. Because nothing makes someone more thirsty than an enthusiastic bout of cloud-diving.

As you might expect, Crystal Pepsi lasted about a year before being unceremoniously yanked from the shelves. Thought it wouldn’t be the last bad idea for Pepsi, who later launched Pepsi One, a non-starter that tasted identical to Diet Pepsi. Nonetheless, it stands out as the biggest bomb of them all, an idea so bad it makes Springfield’s decision to build a Monorail seem brilliant by comparison. But look on the bright side, the next time you’re viciously drunk, staggering around intent on committing some sort of maybe, you needn’t worry about it. Go with your instincts and think to yourself: whatever it is, no idea can ever be as bad as Crystal Pepsi.

MP3: Van Halen-“Right Now”

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