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What is Jolt Cola?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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While modern energy drinks may contain such exotic stimulants as ginseng, taurine or yerba mate, carbonated sodas during the 1980s often contained a few milligrams of caffeine and a significant amount of sugar. Highly caffeinated beverages such as Mountain Dew or Coca-Cola were very popular among students and others looking for a stimulating alternative to coffee. A sociology major attending the State University of New York (SUNY) noticed that many of his fellow students were concocting their own heavily caffeinated beverages in order to remain awake during study sessions. C.J. Rapp created Jolt Cola in 1985, inspired by the highly stimulating homemade soft drinks created at SUNY and other campuses.

The original formula contained real cane sugar and 72 milligrams of caffeine, which was the highest amount of the stimulant allowed by federal law. Because caffeine could be very bitter, soft drink companies routinely added more sweetener to their more heavily caffeinated products, but the general trend during the mid-1980s was towards diet and caffeine-free colas. When Rapp introduced Jolt Cola in 1985, he promoted it as containing "all the sugar and twice the caffeine" of other colas such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The drink became very popular with students, young professionals and computer programmers who found themselves working long hours behind desks.

Jolt Cola was originally bottled and distributed by Rapp's Jolt Cola company, but eventually the company changed its name to Wet Planet Beverages. While the drink never really posed a threat to the two major soft drink companies Pepsi Co and Coca-Cola, it did become a popular niche item in convenience stores and coffee shops. The original soda in cans or refillable bottles became the prized possession of college students, gamers and computer enthusiasts everywhere.

Jolt Cola is still being produced and bottled by Wet Planet Beverages. Along with the original cola flavor, Jolt Cola can be found in flavors ranging from lemon-lime to black cherry. There is even a diet version called Ultimate. The current incarnation no longer uses pure cane sugar, however, but it does contain significantly more caffeine. Consumers can now buy 23.5 ounce resealable cans shaped like batteries. These oversized battery cans also feature a gauge which measures the amount of product remaining in the "battery." While other energy drinks may enjoy more popularity on grocers' shelves, there are still twitchy, nervous Jolt Cola fans willing to travel great distances for their beverage of choice.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon989350 — On Mar 02, 2015

I just picked up Jolt Cola Caffeine x2 at BevMo!

By anon946264 — On Apr 18, 2014

Teenage coder from the late '80s checking in! Jolt was my primary source of energy right through the mid '90s.

By runner101 — On Sep 18, 2011

@alFredo - I have heard from some people that they sell that at some chain drug stores, but I haven’t seen them myself. There is a line of Jolt Energy Drinks that are made by the same company that I have seen at some convenient stores and chain drugs stores.

I know that this is not the same as Jolt Cola, but maybe it is still good since it is made by the same company. You can also buy them in bulk directly through the vendors.

By aLFredo — On Sep 17, 2011

Does anyone know of any national store chains that might be a place where I can buy Jolt cola still? Are there any convenient stores that sell them? That is where I used to get them, but I haven't seen them at any of the convenient stores I go to.

By geekish — On Sep 16, 2011

I have not seen Jolt Cola since the 1990's! I was a tween and teen then, so my body could tolerate an endless amount of sugar and caffeine, so I loved it!

Now I don't think my body could handle that much caffeine or sugar, but hey, if you can tolerate it, more power to you!

Jolt cola and other high caffeinated sodas helped me pull all-night study sessions back when I went to college, so I thank the soda industry and the inventor of Jolt Cola for my good test scores!

I am a procrastinator, so occasionally I do drink sodas to keep me awake and alert. It doesn't bother my stomach as much as coffee does. Tea is another good alternative to coffee.

I would probably at least try a Jolt Soda again, for sentimental reasons and if I needed some energy, but I have not seen them around in a while.

By StarJo — On Sep 16, 2011

I love black cherry flavored Jolt Cola. It adds an extra kick to the flavor to go along with the mental kick of the caffeine.

I cannot find Jolt Cola at any of the grocery stores within a fifty mile radius of my home. I have to order it online now. I remember buying it from the store down the street in the 1980s, but kids today prefer super sweet energy drinks.

I order a few cases at a time to save money. I drink it instead of coffee in the mornings before work, because coffee doesn’t wake me up like Jolt Cola does. I can go all morning on half a bottle, and I drink the rest in my mid-afternoon slump.

By OeKc05 — On Sep 15, 2011

Wow, I cannot imagine drinking that much caffeine. I can’t even drink a serving size of Mountain Dew without having heart palpitations and urinating every few minutes. A Jolt Cola would probably kill me!

I imagine that it would taste significantly better than most modern energy drinks, though. I have taken a sip just out of curiosity, and to me, they taste like cough syrup mixed with tart candy. I don’t know how people can down an entire bottle.

I have a small frame, so I’m very susceptible to caffeine. A few sips of Jolt Cola would probably keep me going for hours.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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