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  • Marielle Bokor

The Story of Starry: How Good Drinks Die and New Drinks Struggle to Stick Around

You’d be forgiven if you thought the cola wars were the stuff of Billy Joel anthems and not a current affair. By now it’s pretty clear the two titans will continue on in endless battle with legions of fans on either side just about as rabid about it in some cases as painted up football fans on Super Bowl Sunday.

Past the days of petty lawsuits trying to buy each other out and weird attempts at sabotage, we’re in a sort of cold war. You’re a Coke or you’re a Pepsi if you’re in the game at all, but you’ve got a backup player because with the way franchises handle cola sales, you’re gonna eventually show up at a Pepsi place as a Coke fan and vice versa.

A Starry ad campaign. Screenshot:

Enter the lemon lime soda. It’s sort of the Luigi of beverages. Pretty powerful, refreshing, and honestly, a delight, but always upstaged by its red-suspenders wearing brother cola. Sibling rivalry aside, lemon-lime sodas are a Miss Congeniality of sorts in the soda world. Inoffensive, crisp, refreshing and light. Perfectly effervescent it feels sort of healthy compared to cola, but still indulgent enough to be fun.

The OG lemon lime soda has been around for over 90 years now, kicking off its longrunning runner up status as “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda'' which is almost as bad a marketing move as describing a flavor of Coke as the flavor of “transformation” which turns out to be a lot like a Werther’s Original meets suntan lotion situation that frankly, we were not okay with. Eventually though, after its original formula stopped containing lithium and it was sold for your enjoyment and not your medicinal benefit, it got a brand new image, the label 7-UP and the privilege of being the first. It’s controversial, but 7-UP remains this author’s favorite - it’s got more bubble, more cut, and less cloying sweetness than its more popular cousins Sprite and Sierra Mist, though less notoriety.

Starry Twitter takes a new approach. Source: @starrylemonlime, Twitter.

Speaking of Sierra Mist - well, sometimes the sibling rivalry results in a killing off from within, and that’s exactly what happened to this longtime Pepsi companion. It’s not the first time, with Pepsi also trying to kill off Sierra Mist back in 2016, when it rebranded it to Mist Twist, and perhaps not as impactful as the runaway success of Sprite, but if you weren’t already aware, you’ve drunk your last drop of the arguably underappreciated font of those misty mountains.

Starry is something new, entirely - or that’s what Pepsi would love for us to believe. It hits different, it declares on its homepage. A ‘crisp, clear burst of lemon lime flavor.’ ‘Good vibes, great taste’ it declares elsewhere on the about page. Hell, it even pokes fun at the drama on its own Tiktok page. It’s hip, it’s new, and whether you like it or not, if you want lemon lime deliciousness with your Mexican pizza at Taco Bell, it’s here to stay. Personally we find it much better in cans and bottles than in fountains in nearby restaurants, but it’s hard to tell if it’s Starry’s fault or the fault of a few questionable machines and mixes.

This isn’t the first fallen soldier for Pepsi in recent times, either. Does anyone remember Slice? As much as I now recall being a fan of this fruity blast from the past, it took some digging to even remember that that was Sierra Mist’s predecessor, and Teem before that.

The sad truth is, nothing’s gonna stop the gears of war from turning, and that means even if we miss it, we have to accept that Sierra Mist is now forever in the firmament as a brilliant memory we can no longer grasp, and Starry is here to stay.



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