The hunt for Ecto Cooler

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If you grew up in the same generation that I did, it’s possible that your mom had a big can of Hi-C juice drink in your refrigerator. You know the kind — it had to be opened with a church key, with two triangular punches in the top of the can.

In the 1980s, to coincide with the release of the original Ghostbusters movie (update: actually, it may have been the cartoon series!) a bright green Hi-C hit the stores: Ecto Cooler.

The sweet citrus flavor of Ecto Cooler has become the stuff of legends. The flavor stuck around for a long, long time — fourteen years!

Ecto Cooler left store shelves around 2001, and other than the occasional reminiscing over 80s’ kitschiness, I haven’t thought about it too much since I was a child.

Ecto CoolerImage: Coca-Cola

In April, Coke announced that Hi-C Ecto Cooler was returning to stores as a tie-in with the Ghostbusters movie reboot.

“Let’s get some,” my husband said. 

Promotional materials said that Ecto Cooler would hit stores on May 30th. We headed down to our local Jewel-Osco that afternoon: No Ecto Cooler. We went to our nearby Walmart: No Ecto Cooler. 

I returned to Jewel and placed a special order for Ecto Cooler, which now comes in 11.5-ounce cans and 10-pack juice boxes.

Several weeks passed. Each time I returned to Jewel, I checked on my order. “We can’t seem to get it,” they said. (Indeed, it’s mid-July now, and they still haven’t been able to get it in… and the new movie hasn’t even hit theaters yet!)

Of course, not having something makes you want it more.  I checked Amazon, which was selling 12-can packs of Ecto Cooler for more than ninety dollars..! In watching it, the price at Amazon fluctuates wildly depending whether or not Amazon has it in stock. When they don’t, third-party resellers inflate the price far beyond what you’d likely want to pay for the green stuff. 

Other reports of unsuccessful Ecto Cooler hunting appeared online. A Facebook page devoted to Ecto Cooler claimed that Coke has Ecto Cooler in the warehouse, but it wasn’t something that automatically shipped to stores. Stores had to request Ecto Cooler in order to stock it. This didn’t make sense to me, since my local Jewel is still trying to order it for me and cannot get it. 

I kept checking the Ecto Cooler Facebook page off and on, and someone recently commented that they’d found Ecto Cooler at a Woodman’s in Wisconsin.

Woodman’s! My husband called our local store, and the woman on the end of the line laughed and confirmed: “Yes, we have Ecto Cooler!”

ectoonshelf

We went to the Woodman’s location in Carpentersville, Illinois, and there it was sitting on the shelf… Ecto Cooler. Success!

We bought it, of course. Then, we returned home, put it in the fridge, and impatiently waited for it to chill.

drinkecto

While it’s been quite some time since I drank out of a juice box, I’m happy to report that the “new” Ecto Cooler tastes exactly like I remember it tasting when I was a child — as best as I can remember, anyway. It’s a sweet citrus drink with orange and tangerine flavors, and yes, it’s still bright green.

dhic

My husband agrees. “This is it — just like when we were kids!” Of course, he just had to pair his Ecto Cooler with a Ghostbusters Key Lime Slime Twinkie. I’m not a big fan of the Twinkie anyway, so I wasn’t feeling quite adventurous enough to join him in eating a slime-filled cake…! Our Ecto Cooler flashback was enjoyable though and totally worth sharing with your kids if you can find it.

If you’re thirsty for the 1980s and have a Woodman’s near you, the odds seem in your favor that you’ll find Ecto Cooler on the shelves. Or, see what the price of Ecto Cooler is on Amazon — you may luck out if it’s in stock.

 

(For what it’s worth, Ecto Cooler does contain high-fructose corn syrup, which is a substance we usually avoid. This was purely a liquid-candy nostalgia buy to share with our kids and reminisce over.)

 

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Comments

  1. wolverine70 says

    Glad you found it, Jill! Just think that HFCS in there helped support a lot of jobs in Illinois and is no different than cane or beet sugar nutritionally. I actually think the original Hi-C drink wasn’t released until after the film when the cartoon was released and became popular. No matter, a nice nostalgic trip back to the 80s!

    • says

      You may be right about the tie-in with the animated series vs. the original movie! It’s been so long that I honestly can’t remember.

      And regarding the HFCS comment, I put it out there knowing full well I will be getting hate mail/comments from this post. The “That’s unhealthy!” crowd is quick to judge from behind their computer screens and ready to pounce anytime I blog deals on pop or pontificate about my love for all things sugar-Coke. It unfortunately goes with the territory…

  2. dana Jepson says

    Why are you filling your son’s stomach with sweetened battery acid?
    BTW, almost everything you’re promoting with coupons is completely TOXIC junk. But free or cheap is free or cheap, right?

    • says

      And… that’s exactly why I put the statement about HFCS at the end of my story.

      This was a nostalgia purchase for fun, and surprise, surprise – no coupon used either.

      If you don’t like Hi-C, don’t buy it.

    • wolverine70 says

      Uh, Dana, if you don’t like what Jill posts, DON’T VISIT THE SITE!

      For the rest of us, we are grateful she shares her money saving wisdom with us. There is nothing wrong with a fun treat for the family.

      I certainly didn’t mean anything by my comment, Jill. You’re about the last person I’d ever want to hurt.

      • says

        No worries whatsoever.

        Realistically, even if you are diligent about avoiding HFCS, if you eat out anywhere, you’re probably going to consume it in everything from pasta sauce to bread to ice cream. We try to avoid it at home, but just as I wouldn’t go crazy over some HFCS in a pizza we had delivered, I’m also not getting too bent out of shape over, as you said, something that was a fun treat for us to enjoy together. :)

  3. Jennifer says

    Thanks, Jill for sharing the fun story and letting me know I should also hunt down the juice so I can introduce my kids too. After all, I just took them (7 and 10 years old) to see Weird Al in concert. Love passing down the traditions.

    BTW, I am impressed with your thick skin when it comes to some of the snarky replies you receive. Hopefully you receive way more nice comments than the bitter ones.

    Have you heard any comments about the kid-friendliness of the movie? The few reviews I’ve read make it seem like it might be okay for my kids, just need to be on the alert for some bad words.

    • says

      A thick skin definitely goes with the territory – it would be hard to survive as a blogger without it. I never cease to be amazed by the things people will say behind the semi-anonymous shields of their web screens.

      As for kid-friendliness, I like this site for reading about movies before taking the kids: http://kids-in-mind.com/g/ghostbusters.htm

      It may spoil some plots, but it’s extremely thorough in detailing every instance of profanity, nudity, violence in movies. It looks like Ghostbusters has a couple instances of the S-word and some toilet humor. :)

  4. dancingwolves says

    I just love Woodman’s….they truly have things no other stores carry. In fact, many products that Jewel and Meijers no longer carry, I end up purchasing for others at Woodman’s. Between that and couponing, I should have been a personal shopper for an occupation.

  5. Laura says

    Love this Blast from the Past. Long after Hi-C pulled this from their lineup, I was still purchasing gallon size jugs from Dominicks under the guise of Citrus Cooler. I know it’s crap, but it does taste delicious every now and again. Thanks for your article. I ran to Mariano’s Thursday and bought up their last 5 cases (he was getting 45 more cases in on their load that day, and the store mgr allowed me to buy it. They can’t keep it on their shelves.)

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