Pepsi introduced Josta in 1995 and I remember it well. Somehow I had heard of Josta, but we didn’t have it here in Canada (at least not at that point). My best friend was going on vacation to Michigan with her family in what ended up being a test market for Josta and I begged her to bring me back a case. I didn’t know what guarana was and didn’t know what it would taste like or even if I’d like it, but dammit, I needed a case.
Like a good best friend, she indulged me and came back with 12 cans of the sweet nectar. I slept over her at house and we popped them cans open only to find– I fucking hated Josta. I tried to like it, I mean, I hyped it up so much for myself, I had to at least like it a little. But I couldn’t. I abandoned the rest of the cans at her house.
In the competitive world of soft drinks, it’s impressive that Josta managed to stick around until 1999– shortly after the May 1998 release of the Matthew Broderick-fronted Godzilla.
The movie is rife with product placement, from Bacardi to Blockbuster, and even had a Taco Bell promotional tie-in AND a Puff Daddy song. Pepsi can be seen in the background of a few scenes as well, and it looks like they chose to promote Josta over any of their other products (besides regular Pepsi itself).
Rumors swirled that Josta was discontinued in 1999 because one of the ingredients became illegal in the U.S. (why not replace it?) Or maybe it was because energy drinks were becoming more and more the norm in our society and the market ended up flooded. Or maybe, and this is 100% true because I just wrote it on the Internet: the subliminal image of Josta in the background of interior shots of Madison Square Garden in Godzilla gave people both a distaste for American-made Godzilla movies and for questionable cola beverages (Josta).
It’s not just Josta that Godzilla killed– other Godzilla product placement casualties include Blockbusters, Kodak disposable cameras, and Puff Daddy’s career.
As a side note, when I told Lee I was writing about Josta, he replied: “You know what the secret to Josta was? It gave you… ‘feelings’.”
What he was getting at is that guarana, one of the ingredients in Josta, allegedly helps boost sexual performance.
After a little digging, it seems like he wasn’t that far off. This 1996 article states: “While it’s not marketing Josta as an aphrodisiac, Pepsi is being coy. It won’t say Josta is a love potion, but it won’t say it isn’t.” You can click the article below to read the full text:
Going even further, commercials for Josta depict old men reminiscing on their good old days, wishing they would have banged young women. The tag line implores the viewer: “Better do the good stuff now”.
While Godzilla killed Josta in 1999, there are recipes out there to recreate the drink. Unfortunately, they call for a discontinued SoBe Dragon (a dragonfruit beverage) and Bawls, which isn’t available in my area.
Heed Josta’s advice, don’t be an old man with regrets. Go forth and attempt to recreate this not-so-great-tasting-but-still-iconic 90s beverage! And let us know how it goes if you do.