Make it alcoholic! No wait, make it milk for school lunches! Fuck it, we’re drunk, do whatever.”
We recently waxed the-opposite-of-poetic about Coca-Cola produced beverages that we found, to put it politely, shitty as shit. In doing our research for that article, we stumbled across a single product, available from 2003 to 2005, that we felt belonged on our list, until a quick look at its history let us know that, no, this drink is wonderful, and the most American thing we can think of, and we wish we had it today.
That drink is Swerve.
Swerve is a milk drink, but it’s so much more. It’s a microcosm of the product development process of modern day American consumerism. It’s an opportunistic combination of bad ideas and impractical dreams. It’s beautiful and it’s ugly and it’s everything about America, all mixed together into a sweetened milk drink.
Let’s talk about Swerve.
Swerve: Coca-Cola’s Almost Alcoholic Milk Product For School Lunches
We’ll get to what Swerve ended up shortly, but to start with, we’re going to tell you what Swerve could have been. Swerve was originally developed under the formula “Original Yogurt Blast Swerve” which, and we’re quoting Wikipedia here, “contained all the great taste of plain yogurt with the alcoholic kick of a high gravity lager.” Make no mistake, this is a wretchedly disgusting, bad idea.
It’s also brilliant. No, not the kind of brilliant where it’s actually “smart.” But it’s the most American idea we can think of. It’s not afraid of taking risks. It’s stupid, but it’s also unique, because we can safely say, as drunk as we’ve ever been and as desperate to find new ways to imbibe alcohol as we always are, we’ve never once thought, “you know what, let’s combine Sparks with fucking Chobani.”
When you try to get in on the alcopop market, you can just make more of the same or you can make, and again this is a quote here, something “not unlike a homemade alcoholic Go-Gurt.” It came in 12 ounce, 16 ounce, and quart-sized bottles, had an 8.5% abv. And contained L. acidophilus cultures, which we’re pretty sure is a bacteria, and if we had to take a blind guess, we’d guess it’s the bacteria that helps you poop.
(Okay, so it would appear that it actually is just a standard yogurt bacteria, but, again, we’re going to choose to believe the poop thing).
This never made it to production because, again, alcoholic yogurt drink. That’s the stupidest idea, but we’re so glad to live in a world where at least someone has thought of it.
Sort of like the guy who decided to grow pumpkins in a shape of Frankenstein’s head, only completely not at all and this was obviously just an excuse for us to post this picture.
When Coke’s attempts to make alcoholic yogurt failed because of course it did, they didn’t abandon the project all together. Instead, they regrouped, shrugged their shoulders, and said, “eh, let’s make a sweetened milk drink for kids and make it out of like 51% milk if we’re going to have all this dairy lying around.” And that’s exactly what they fucking did.
They eventually unveiled Swerve as a vitamin-fortified dairy drink only available to students aged 13-18 through their school lunches, which is the funniest fucking end result for an alcoholic milk drink brainstorm session. The flavors available where chocolate (makes sense), vanana, a mix of vanilla and banana (careful now) and Blooo, a mixture of blueberry and strawberry flavors (get right the fuck out of here Coca-Cola, what the hell are you huffing, and may we have some?).
Yes, you read that right. Blooo, with three fucking o’s. We know, we’re scared too, we’ll walk through this together. So, it’s a blueberry and strawberry milk beverage that’s 51% skim milk and made to taste like a combination of blueberries and strawberries.
That’s pretty terrifying to start, but let’s move past that, and just focus on that name. Blooo. Yes, it’s a pun name, and yes, it’s because cows go “moo” and yes we’re feeling that migraine pain as well, it’s very awful, and you want to jam an ice pick up your nose to make it stop, but trust us, hold off, it’ll go away on its own we swear. It’s a cow pun, because there’s blueberries, and cows go moo, and fuck strawberries they don’t get to be involved in the pun and ouch ouch okay there comes the migraine again just ride it through we’re here for you try to avoid looking into bright lights if you can.
Alright, Google Image Search, you’re just being an asshole now
Now, you might be wondering to yourself, “So if 51% of this shit was milk, what was the other 49%, and was that question sincere sounding enough that you can let my family go now?” To that we’d say, you fucking asshole we told you not to try any funny shit, goddamn it, put him back in the basement.
And also, the rest was basically flavoring (fucking Blooo), sugar, and water. So while an 11-ounce can (yes, it was a milk drink that came in cans) had 30% of your daily value of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin C, while claiming to be lower in fat, calories, and sugars than most leading milk brands, we have to wonder…what the fuck are they putting in other milk brands? This shit had more calories than a can of coke, for fuck’s sake!
It carried the “Heart Smart” seal from the American Heart Association, because apparently you can get a Heart Smart seal for anything if you’re willing to pay the right people. According to the press release we linked to earlier, “The packaging feature[d] a stylized logo with the Swerve name and an offbeat cow character sporting black sunglasses.” That’s probably our favorite part of this product—they put sunglasses on a cow and were like, “it’ll appeal to the youth of today!” which you might recall was the exact same tactic used by Itchy and Scratchy when they brought in Poochie.
Predictably, a can of sweet milk water with a cow who had half of his face paralyzed during a stroke as a mascot never really caught on with “the youths” as at least one person involved on this project would probably call them, and it quietly wound down its production. By the end, the only variety you could find in the handful of schools still offering Swerve was chocolate, which is the least “bad idea disguising itself as hip” flavor of the three.
at the end of the day, we were left with something much greater than a shitty milk drink that no one wanted to drink. We were left with a story about American ingenuity and pride. About a multinational corporation daring to get us drunk on yogurt before saying, “Fuck it, let’s milk the school system for some dough.” A sea of unique but bad ideas all to make one drink that has faded into obscurity. We salute you, Swerve.
Well, except for Blooo. Blooo can go right to hell.