Coca-Cola announced today that it’s launching, in partnership with Molson Coors, Simply Spiked Lemonade, which by definition, is not simply lemonade. And while it’s hopping on the hard seltzer trend, it’s also definitively not a hard seltzer. “This is a completely different proposition,” the VP of innovation for Molson Coords told Food Business News. Instead, Michelle St. Jacques, chief marketing officer, Molson Coors, said in a statement that the company is here to “disrupt the full-flavor alcohol segment.” With hard lemonade.
Simply Spiked Lemonade, a 5 percent ABV hard lemonade that comes in four flavors, will join Coke’s Fresca Mixed on the shelves, as well as competitors Hard Mtn Dew, Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda, White Claw hard seltzer iced tea, Twisted tea, and a bevy of canned cocktail brands all positioning themselves to be as easy to bring to a party as a six-pack of beer. Meanwhile, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, king of kings, is looking out at the lone and level sands of his creation. The dream of the early 2000s (and every other trend wave) is alive and we’ve officially looped back around to drinking alcopops.
This is not inherently a bad thing. In the many states where anything harder than beer can’t be purchased at a grocery store, the spread of hard seltzers, lemonades, teas, ciders, and other non-beer drinks has been a boon to those of us who don’t drink beer but who don’t want to make an extra trip. There are more options than making do with a sickly sweet Woodchuck, and that’s great.
But also, we’re at the pinnacle of the unmitigated spread of each brand’s IP into every possible iteration of a product, as they rely on brand recognition to flip the switch in a consumer’s head to think “I like their other stuff so I’ll like this too.” Frito-Lay has Flamin’ Hotted every single snack it has. Spindrift is making spiked seltzers, and Truly Hard Seltzer is making fruit punch. I drank a Coca-Cola mocha coffee soda the other day and my body could not compute what was happening. What does the phrase Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda even mean, especially considering Bud Light Seltzer is already a thing? Maybe it doesn’t matter, because “Bud Light Seltzer,” like Simply Lemonade, is a known quantity. But also who cares?
Eventually this is what supply and demand always curdles into, brands insisting they’re creating something new when they’re just making more and more nearly identical things trying to capture a slice of a rapidly saturating market, an endless supply of products no one really asked for, churned out at a clip that will most likely result in surplus and the destruction of things no one bought. But for now, the result is a different hard lemonade than one you’ve already tasted. Look upon these coolers and despair.