SoBe Drinks Are No Longer Available — How the Brand Crumbled

SoBe drinks seem to have disappeared following declining sales and some controversy. Was COVID-19 the final straw for the once popular drink?

Alex West - Author

Feb. 19 2024, Published 9:36 a.m. ET

A person holding a white SoBe drink on the beach
Source: Instagram/@drinksobe

Another tasty beverage option has disappeared from shelves. SoBe, an assortment of teas and fruit juices, is nowhere to be found. It seems like the brand dropped off the face of the earth entirely.

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SoBe may not have been the most popular drink, but the public often demands a comeback. That being said, the brand likely won't be coming back anytime soon since there were a few issues with the brand. Keep reading for all of the details on what happened to SoBe drinks.

An orange SoBe sitting on the ground with two men in the background
Source: Instagram/@drinksobe
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What happened to SoBe drinks?

SoBe, originally known as South Beach Beverage Company, started in 1995 and became popular in college dorms for its boosting energy effect. Starting with just one flavor, the company quickly added a variety of flavors which attracted a pretty sizable number of consumers.

It didn't take long for major manufacturers to take notice. In 2000, PepsiCo acquired the company and assumed the role of creating and distributing the brand. According to CNN, the company shelled out $370 million to expand its selection of non-carbonated drinks.

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"We believe that the creative, entrepreneurial SoBe culture will work well alongside Pepsi-Cola Company," said Gary Rodkin, Pepsi-Cola North America president and CEO, in a statement at the time. "We intend to give SoBe the freedom and autonomy to preserve its unique culture, plus direct access to the advantages of the larger Pepsi-Cola systems."

There were hopes for SoBe to dominate over Amazon Iced Tea and Snapple. However, beating out Amazon's commitment to $0.99 drinks proved to be difficult.

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Ironically, SoBe's founder told CNN that he didn't think the drink was just a fad. While it stuck around for over a decade, the demand for the drink ultimately sank.

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Why exactly the brand went defunct is still a bit of a mystery as PepsiCo hasn't addressed it straight-on. The brand's website is still functioning and describes how their story began... never mentioning an end.

In 2015, there was a strange mystery and controversy that came out of the SoBe world. Photos went viral where people showed the cap of a SoBe bottle which had a message printed underneath. It said: "Help me. Trapped in SoBe factory."

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With so many instances of the same eerie message, consumers began to get concerned about what was really happening at those bottling factories. "Hi there, we're sorry that our cap slogan caused you concern, that was certainly not our intention," the company explained in a statement to Buzzfeed News.

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"These sayings are intended to give our consumers a little smile or pause for thought, not offense, while they enjoy their favorite SoBe beverage. We are planning on removing this cap slogan from our current rotation, however, it will take a while for existing stock to run through the market."

While SoBe stayed on the market for several more years, the drinks slowly began to disappear from stores. What finally ended the brand? It's really hard to say, but many people speculate that COVID-19 caused production delays and, subsequently, tanked the drink altogether.

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