There is a long, rich tradition of taking things that are already bad to put in your body and making them absolutely horrific. It's something that has happened forever for fast food to the soda world, but when you go and gimmick up your booze, then you start building a truly toxic body bomb.

Somewhere along the line, we decided that it's not enough for booze to burst into your system like the Kool-Aid man and hang around in your liver as an unwanted house guest. Oh no, some alcohol companies wanted it to kick down your door like an even more questionable Kramer, dive headfirst into your liver, and just start spraying the goddamn thing with a flamethrower ...

Zima - Clearly Trash

We have to start with a classic -- Zima is one of the original bullshit boozes. It's from back when we had a greater radar up for this kind of garbage and was pretty universally shot down when it was introduced in the early '90s as a clear looking alternative to beer

That could bring a tear to my eye. One look at the booze shelves these days, and it's more Zima-likes than anything resembling actual alcohol. 

Though we've grown as a society in so many amazing ways since the early '90s when Zima was launched, it's undeniable that we've become far too susceptible to fad drinks and transparent marketing ideas. Zima, nearly immediately upon launch, became a punch line. That's because back in the day, people could drink. Your beer was supposed to taste like ass. If it didn't taste like ass, something was terribly wrong. Every cheap beer was called something like Old Taintwater or Heavyass Lite, and it was perfect. Drinking was purely a function, a means to an end.

zima in japan

Adam Lederer

Exactly four more Zimas than you should ever drink.

Then, Zima stepped in and threw off the vibes of the whole party. With one clear, fruit-tasting, unnecessary drink, they kicked open the door for a wave of imposters. Sure, it didn't really happen until years and years after Zima's collapse, but it still planted a seed. A fizzy, fruity, sugary seed that grows beneath pop country music festivals and emerges in the form of the great White Claw oak tree, to be climbed by drunken college kids and one that grows stronger for each verse played on stage about trucks, or making out on the back of trucks, or making out with the back end of your truck.

It's all just to say that without Zima, there very likely would have been less of an explosion in the world of today's bullshit booze. And for that, we pour one out ... onto Zima ... like, a waterboarding amount ... we pour out a waterboarding onto Zima for ever coming out here and duping the drinking public into accepting this horseshit.

Joose - Four Loko, But Worse

Everybody remembers Four Loko. Well, that might not be fair; everybody remembers their first sniff of Four Loko. But then, without even having a sip, that toxic fairy dust went into their nostrils, straight into their bloodstream, and blacked them out for the next six years. What's probably remembered most about Four Loko and its competitors are those years before they were neutered and all of the "good stuff" was taken out. The good stuff, of course, being crystal methaffeine. Well, let me tell you about Joose, a Four Loko-like that was somehow even more vile and dangerous in just about every way.

I mean, Christ, we don't even need to go any further than the name to know that this is far superior to Four Loko. Of course, "superior" in the sense that if you want to be able to open up a Final Fantasy menu in your real-life and scroll to the potions and pop a Major Bad Decision Elixir, this was the drink for you.

Joose products when they first came to Texas

IToo Good/Wiki Commons

Just nice, tasteful packaging.

Jacked full of awful alcohol, it was, of course, the caffeine that put these over the top. And eventually got them canceled in their useful form. Joose came hard out of the gates with absolutely idiotic flavors, with such classics as orangejungle, and dragon

Joose really stands out in the branding. The audacity to equate this to anything natural is actually genuinely admirable. I'm not saying that anyone is stupid enough to walk into a liquor store and mistake this for something nutritious, but you just don't see this very often. Not sure Cheetos are going to go out there and release a new line that subs out the usual radioactive dust for cocaine found in an asbestos attic before calling it Cheetos Leaves. Try all new Cheetos Leaves. Are they green? No. Are they natural in any way? God no. But the bag will trick people into thinking they're organic, and you will be too messed up after three to care. 

Joose spat in the face of the consumer, and I can do little else but respect that. It's truly what we deserve if we're willingly putting caffeinated speed into our systems just to save a few dollars on drinks at the bar later.

Billy Beer - The Grifter Beer

Not every bullshit booze has to be a toxic concoction or a brand new spin on things. Some can take the traditional and garbage them up just through marketing alone. That's the case with the infamous Billy Beer, a beer marketed strictly as the beer of choice for President Jimmy Carter's lovable, drunken, gas-station-owning brother. As Jimmy Carter was hitting the campaign trail, the camera eventually found its way to Billy, and he did not disappoint. 

He was this goofy antithesis to his brother, and his calling card was, basically, that he was always pretty drunk. That classic, '70s guy beer drunk. Where they would probably blow a 7.239, but there's also a pretty good chance they could drive in, and win, a stock car race. When Falls City brewing caught wind of Billy's taste, they figured it could be just the marriage their operation needed to save it from its impending collapse. They whipped up some batches and had Billy choose the least offensive one, slapped the name Billy Beer on it, and tried to get out in front of the light national buzz he was creating.

Billy Beer six pack

Lorie Shaull

I can't even lie; that label is pretty nice.

Perhaps the greatest part of this absurdly dumb beer was most certainly not the taste -- which was said to be so bad that Billy just kept drinking his favored PBR anyway – but what was printed on the cans themselves. At the top, a line read: Brewed expressly for and with the personal approval of one of AMERICA's all-time Great Beer Drinkers -- Billy Carter. Can you imagine how good your life has been to that point to get the title One of America's All-Time Great Beer Drinkers

Beneath that, another line, this one coming directly from Billy, read: I had this beer brewed up just for me. I think it's the best I ever tasted. And I've tasted a lot. I think you'll like it, too. I love this because it's maybe the least committal endorsement of all time. It's just a shrug in text form. It's a, "Yeah, it's fine. I guess? I mean, it won't kill you. This beer will not kill you just by sipping it alone. Do I drink it? No. Should you? Probably not. But, uh, it's beer. It's definitely technically beer." Shockingly, the product itself matched this lazy endorsement, and people were not feeling the taste. Alongside Falls City running into the ground, Billy Beer was about as short-lived as it probably should have been and has become something of a punch line ever since.

Cisco - The Wine Of Regret

Usually, when you think about bullshit booze, your mind goes to the aforementioned malt or the heart-stopping caffeinated variety. You may not, however, think that the wine space has room for these gimmicks. But shit, if anything, Cisco proved that drinking wine didn't just have to be for fart-sniffing elitists; it could be for absolute maniacs who want about 10 bottles of wine in one, too. 

Reaching up to nearly 20% ABV, Cisco was for the kind of wine drinker that is not interested in sitting out in the field at some vineyard, lightly sipping and sniffing while nibbling on cheese. It's for the kind of wine drinker that is dying to plow the monster truck Grave Digger straight through those fields while taking whip-its from a can of Easy Cheese. Cisco is notorious for being the drink you reached for at the liquor store when you wanted to hit control-alt-delete on your night. A bright, syrupy, truly disgusting pastiche of wine, if wine was something that came from stomping on those little toxic balls from the Nic Cage classic The Rock instead of grapes.

Cisco got so wild that the Federal Trade Commission had to step in and ask them to put labels on their bottles saying they're not a wine cooler. Because people were reaching for these bright drinks thinking they were in for a light, breezy night, only to wake up on an oil rig in the Dead Sea a few hours later. 

Even better, the FTC also made one more request: to do away with their slogan, Takes You By Surprise. Which I actually find to be a bad call on their part. That is maybe the most honest advertising slogan of all time. It's not Tastes Like Actual Wine or Made With Some Natural Stuff; it's simply, This Shit Is About to Torpedo Your Whole Night. There is something almost admirable about bullshit booze like Cisco. Unlike a lot of the ones above, it kind of has a purpose. It's honest in its delivery, and it knew exactly what it was and what it was being used for. It's just also a problem that what it was probably most commonly used for was as a body kevlar that made the drinker temporarily invincible to tasers while they went on a drunken destruction spree through the Dollar General.

ChocoVine - Yoohoo For Winos

Bullshit booze doesn't need to be a thing of the past. It can absolutely still find its groove in today's market. Because, let's be honest, we're as dumb, if not dumber, than ever. That's how you end up with a drink like ChocoVine, which is precisely what that sounds like.

There's been a rich history of vodka brands dumping everything sweet and terrible imaginable into their drinks and slapping an obnoxious name and label on it. Still, the pairing of wine and chocolate into the same syrupy slop is a bridge too far. We keep getting into these problems with our booze because it seems like there's just no self-control anymore. There is no one sitting in these boardrooms raising objections to terrible ideas. I get the feeling that at most of these joints, they're just sitting around vats of their booze, be it malt, wine, vodka, whatever, and dumping shit into it like Looney Tunes characters until whatever comes out doesn't make the latest tester drop dead on the spot.

chocovine liquor

Kevin Spencer

Just let booze be booze instead.

This kind of mess could easily be avoided just by reading the name of the drink alone. It should have never gotten further than that combination. Yes, wine and chocolate are good together. But they're not good inside of each other. That is a huge difference. Do you know what else is good together? Pizza and beer? That doesn't mean we need Papa John's releasing its new stuffed beer crust, which is just a bucketload of molten hot lager waiting to spray you down when you bite into the crust. 

Leave a good thing alone. Resist the temptation to think that you have the next big thing in booze and know that it's kind of already perfect as is. Booze is pure. It's perfect. It's fully evolved. In any liquor store, we can walk in and find the type that best suits us and know that it will be there to get the job done. So if you're out there working up the next grossest thing in alcohol, stop and ask yourself, is this bullshit booze? If so, take out the bullshit; the booze has worked great for us since the dawn of man.

Top Image: ChocoVine

Get More of This!

Sign up for the One Cracked Fact newsletter to get even more craziness from our weird world sent to your inbox every day!

Forgot Password?