Vault

99 cents
Shell
6211 Delmar Boulevard

First, a disclaimer: Vault energy drink is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It should also not be used to resuscitate slumping poll numbers.

Now that we've got that out of the way, Vault is a relative newcomer to the crowded shelf of energy drinks. No, it may not have all the taurine, guarana, ginseng and maltodextrin of its kryptonite-colored rivals. But Vault's got something that leaves its competition flat: devoted fans of the now-retired Surge energy drink who swear Vault is a near genetic match for their beloved beverage.

Coca-Cola first released Surge in Norway in 1996 under the name Urge. Despite its incontinence-evoking name, the soda was an instant hit, and in 1997 the soft drink company loosed it on Americans under the name Surge.

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Sadly, Surge was an energy drink ahead of its time. Meant to compete with PepsiCo's Mountain Dew, sales were less than sparkling, and in 2002 the company pulled the U.S. plug. Today the soft drink is available only in Norway (still under the name Urge).

But Surge's broader market failure has not discouraged a small band of devotees, who've gone to great lengths documenting Surge's unfortunate history, airing their feelings and lobbying the makers of Coca-Cola to reintroduce their adored energy drink.

At their Web site, www.savesurge.org, you'll find dithyrambs like Josh G.'s "Ode to Surge": "Walk through the desert/And Melt just to taste you./As I swallow your bubbly greenness,/My Heart Speeds up./You are all I need."

OK, so maybe "Ode to Surge" does not rival the technical mastery of, say, Robert Burns' "Address to a Haggis," but in terms of sheer ardor, the kid's got Burns beat by a mile.

Here you'll find a page devoted to Surge "recipes." You know, take one bottle Mello Yello, add one quart Mr. Pibb and a half-cup Gatorade powder, stir gently.... There are links to a 2005 eBay auction where a Surge twelve-pack reportedly sold for $160. There's even a page devoted to something called "Operation Clone Surge."

These guys may be deprived of Surge, but they're clearly not wanting for energy.

So how did they react when Coca-Cola released the "hybrid energy soda" Vault, a dead ringer for Surge's original competitor, Mountain Dew? In a blind taste test, Rob A. writes, he couldn't tell the difference between Surge and Vault.

"I'm now convinced 100% that Vault is the new Surge," he writes at Vault's fan site, www.vaultkicks.org. "Vault is just the next generation of Surge slightly tweaked. I'm proud to say that we won the war, and Surge is back!"

"Surge is back"? "Won the war"?

If Coca-Cola has managed to revive its Surge by introducing a jaundice-hued doppelgänger for Mountain Dew, could our president save his own "Surge" with a snazzy title and a little repackaging?

 
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