Response to Paul Feig’s forthcoming remake of the classic comedy Ghostbusters has been mixed, to say the least. While some of the criticism can be chalked up to resistance to the idea of the franchise being retooled with an all female cast, criticism has also been heavy regarding what many have called derivative, unfunny jokes and slapstick comedy featured prominently in the trailer. Others have expressed confusion as to why the film has opted for a remake rather than connecting it to the original — a nostalgic classic for generations of fans.
Now, soft-drink giant Minute Maid has revealed that at least one component of classic Ghostbuster’s fandom lore will make a return appearance: Ecto-Cooler will return to stores in May.
The return marks the latest event in the bizarre pop-culture life of the green-colored, citrus-flavored juice beverage, which has come to take on a life of its own beyond its original purpose as a tie-in to the Ghostbusters franchise. In 1987, as part of the merchandising bonzana attached to The Real Ghostbusters (a well-regarded animated series spun-off of the original film), Minute Maid rebranded one of their existing Hi-C drink flavors, “Citrus Cooler,” as “Ecto-Cooler” — the justification being that it’s neon-green color was similar to the depiction of ghostly ectoplasm, which was ubiquitous in the series and its merchandise — with the green ghost character Slimer adopted as a mascot for the flavor.
Though the original Citrus Cooler had been widely available for decades (since the ’60s, in fact), the popularity of all things Ghostbusters in the ’80s drove sales and turned the flavor into one of Minute Maid’s top consistent sellers in the Hi-C brand. It was so popular among a certain generation of snack-food devotees that it continued to be sold as “Ecto-Cooler” even after The Real Ghostbusters was canceled in 1991 and Slimer was removed from the box-art in 1997. The drink was not formally discontinued until 2001 when it was re-named Shoutin’ Orange Tangergreen and then Crazy Citrus Cooler in 2007. However, by that point the Internet had allowed entire Ghostbusters fandom groups to flourish under the banner of nostalgic appreciation of the Ecto-Cooler brand, and multiple petitions began to circulate asking that the product be restored to its original name.
A press-release from Coca-Cola, announcing that the name will in fact be restored in order to promote the new Ghostbusters movie, reads as follows:
“Hi-C Ecto Cooler will be sold in 10-packs of 6-ounce juice boxes and in 6- and 12-packs of 11.5-ounce aluminum cans. The cans are specially printed using thermal ink that turns an eerie shade of slime green when the product inside is cold.”
While the packaging will once again be adorned with the Ghostbusters insignia and the dripping-ectoplasm art design, one element of the original won’t be part of the comeback: Slimer won’t appear on the box. No reasoning for this was given, but it likely involves avoiding confusion over the new movie. While the cartoon Slimer used for Ecto-Cooler was one of the good guys on The Real Ghostbusters, in the original film he was a villain (if a comparatively harmless one). A new Slimer does appear in the new film, but it’s unclear which side he (or she?) aligns with.
Ghostbusters will be released in theaters July 15, 2016.