Orbitz was a fruit-flavored soft drink had a brief run from 1996 to 1998. The drink was known for its unique appearance, which for the first time in history, featured small, colorful balls floating in a clear liquid.
Their four initial flavors were:
Blueberry Melon Strawberry with the red orbs
Pineapple Banana Cherry Coconut with white orbs
Raspberry Citrus with the yellow orbs, and
Vanilla Orange with the orange orbs.
The parent company of Orbitz was the Clearly Food & Beverage Company of Canada. They started in 1995 under a group of entrepreneurs who envisioned a new type of beverage. The company (Later re-named Clearly Canadian) was based in Vancouver, British Columbia. They initially focused on producing fruit-flavored sparkling waters.
Clearly Food & Beverage Company began experimenting with a new type of soft drink. It would feature small, edible balls suspended in a clear liquid. The idea was to create a drink that was visually appealing and fun to drink. After several months of development, the company introduced Orbitz to the market in 1996.
Orbitz was non-carbonated. The ingredients of Orbitz drink varied depending on the flavor, but generally, it was made with carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (as a preservative), and coloring agents.
The small balls that floated in the drink were called “boba” or “popping boba” and were made of a mixture of seaweed extract, pectin, and a sweetener. These balls were filled with fruit juice or flavored syrup and were designed to burst in the mouth when consumed, creating a unique textural experience. The boba in Orbitz were brightly colored and came in various flavors to match the drink.
Orbitz initially received a lot of attention for its unique appearance. It was unlike any other soft drink on the market. The drink was marketed as a “texturally enhanced alternative beverage”. It even won a few industry awards.
They marketed heavily to the skateboard crowd with the slogan “Defy Gravity”. This not only referred to skateboarding, but also the fact that the orbs in the drink had a specific gravity equal to the surrounding liquid. This enabled them never to settle to the bottom or rise to the top.
A Bit Less Sugar
The exact sugar content of Orbitz drink varied depending on the flavor, but on average, a 10.5 oz bottle of Orbitz contained around 22-24 grams of sugar.
In comparison, a 12 oz can of Coca-Cola contains approximately 39 grams of sugar. So, in terms of sugar content, Orbitz had less sugar than Coca-Cola. However, Orbitz sold for considerable more per fluid ounce than Coke.
Despite its initial popularity, Orbitz proved to be a difficult product to market. Consumers were often confused by the appearance of the drink and were unsure of how to consume it. Additionally, the small balls suspended in the liquid tended to stick together, which made the drink less visually appealing over time.
Orbitz had a very short lifespan. There were a few reasons for this:
Confusion among consumers: When Orbitz was first introduced, many consumers were confused by its appearance and were not sure how to consume it. The small balls floating in the drink tended to stick together over time, which made the drink less visually appealing. Additionally, some consumers found the drink to be too artificial tasting.
High production costs / High Price: The production process for Orbitz was complicated and expensive, which made it difficult to produce the drink at a reasonable cost. The process of creating the floating balls required specialized equipment, and the balls themselves were fragile and prone to breaking during production and transportation.
Marketing challenges: Despite its unique appearance, it was difficult to market Orbitz to a wider audience. The drink was positioned as a “texturally enhanced alternative beverage”. This may have been too vague and confusing for consumers. Additionally, the drink was only available in a few flavors, which limited its appeal to a wider audience.
Overall, the combination of confusion among consumers, high production costs, and marketing challenges ultimately led to the short lifespan of Orbitz. Despite its brief popularity, the drink was discontinued in 1998.
Eventually, Clearly Food & Beverage Company filed for bankruptcy.
- Year Started: 1996
- Year Ended: 1998
- Origin Of Name: Balls floating in liquid like satellites orbiting a planet
- Location Sales: Canada and United States
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Clearly Food & Beverage Company
- Owner While In Use: Clearly Food & Beverage Company
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Coca Cola
- Naics Code: 312111
- Location Headquarters: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada