We Put Vodka in Our Expired Ecto Cooler – Dragon Fortress Features

So, as it turns out I’m not dead. Which is good, because often dead people become ghosts. And if I were a ghost, I most certainly would have been busted due to this blog post. This is a convoluted way of saying I roped three of my friends into drinking expired Ecto Cooler with me, even though there’s not even a dang ghost on the can anymore.

No ghosts to bust here, neither human nor aluminum. If bustin’ can’t make us feel good, then what possibly can? Hopefully the answer lies in expired Hi-C Ecto Cooler.

In the spring and summer of 2016, Hi-C rereleased Ecto Cooler into the wild. It was impossible to find in Boise, so I had to live vicariously through social media and Dinosaur Dracula posts. Ecto Cooler was a big part of my childhood, though, so I was pretty bummed out about the whole thing.

ecto cooler 2016

I drank a LOT of Ecto Cooler as a kid. Those juice boxes were my favorite. They bring back memories of X-Men pogs, staying in on sunny summer days and watching reruns of Welcome Back Kotter (I think there’s a Smiths song about that), and reading Star Trek novels I barely understood.

The thing is, I’m not a Ghostbusters superfan. I ADORED The Real Ghostbusters as a very young kid, and spent a lot of time watching the cartoons and playing with the toys.

My mom even bought me the cereal, and said she’d order me whatever prize was on the back if I ate the whole box. I didn’t like cereal, though, so I’m not sure what I was thinking. The first bowl she poured me, I hid under the kitchen sink and said I finished. She was very proud of me until she found it that night because the milk began to stink. I did not get that prize.

Sure, I like the films. My dad showed me Ghostbusters 2 at a tender young age and it scared the piss out of me. Especially those minks, man. I liked the first film when I eventually saw it around age 10 or so. Still, the cartoon holds the most nostalgia for me. I do appreciate the movies, and the franchise as a whole, but I’m more of an Ecto Cooler fan than I am a Ghostbusters fan.

As it turns out, Ecto Cooler was a rebranded Citrus Cooler that was first released in 1987. I don’t imagine I ever had it until 1991 or 1992, so I always thought it was a 1990s thing. As it turns out, Ecto Cooler is one thing Gen X and Millennials can both agree on.

So, I was very excited when my friend Beer Baron sent me two cans of the 2016 Ecto Cooler in the mail. I’d never had Ecto Cooler in a can before. What a novelty!

Trying Ecto Cooler in 2018: The Plan

I knew I couldn’t keep all of this Ecto Cooler to myself. But “all of this Ecto Cooler” was only about 24 ounces. So I had to pick a small group of people and make the best possible use of the expired paranormal liquid in these brightly colored cans.

So, I devised a plan.

I would find three friends. We would try the Ecto Cooler by itself. We would try the Ecto Cooler with vodka. We would try the Ecto Cooler with flavored vodka. We would record and take photos of the entire thing. I would get a lazy blog post out of it.

So, we picked a day and a gathering place.

We held our little Ecto Cooler party right before we went downtown to see an 80s cover band (Free Bar Tab, a band I hadn’t seen in something like a decade) at a local venue called The Shredder, which features arcade games and skate ramps. And, if I’m being fair, slightly overpriced White Claws. Cool place, though. Look it up if you’re in Boise.

So, had I concocted the perfect evening?

Our Ecto Cooler Squad

Now that I’ve built up an astounding amount of suspense, let me ruin all momentum by introducing you to my friends.

Kyle: Kyle is one of my best friends in the entire world. We share a love of comic books, punk and hardcore, dumb internet videos, toys, empanadas, and Mario Kart. He’s the reason I think Overwatch is cool, and I’m the reason he owns so many dang Lego sets. Kyle is one of the most generous and kind people I’ve ever met. He’s very practical, quite well-learned, and has a great sense of humor. I knew he’d want in on something as frivolous as drinking Ecto Cooler with cheap vodka. We also play in a punk band together.

RJ: RJ and I became friends by going to the same punk shows. His friends became my friends, and my friends became his. RJ is legit one of the funniest people I know, and he’s always up for doing something weird. We share a love of punk rock, comic books, oddball movies, science fiction, and meatloaf with ketchup glaze. I knew if anyone would be excited about this little diversion, it would be him.

Tiffany: Tiffany is Kyle’s partner, and we’ve been great friends ever since they started dating. She has a razor sharp wit and thinks outside of the box. We share a love of 90s nostalgia, music, pop culture, and Happy Meal toys. She’s also a bit younger than the rest of us, so I knew her perspective would be valuable.

Drinking Expired Ecto Cooler in 2018

For this grand Ghostbusting (sans ghosts, for copyright reasons), I purchased the following:

  • Platinum vodka, because it’s cheap and surprisingly good
  • Burnett’s orange vodka, because it’s cheap and who cares
  • Polar Ice Lime flavored Seltzer, because we needed mixers for the rest of the vodka
  • Ecto Cooler, because cucumber-lime Gatorade just isn’t the same

Okay, are you ready? Here’s a song to get you pumped:

We split the whole thing into three rounds.

Round 1 – Ecto Cooler by Itself

ecto cooler 2016

For round 1, we each had about 4 ounces of Ecto Cooler on ice.

First, I asked everyone what they remembered about Eco Cooler, if anything:

Tiff: I’ve never had it before.

RJ: I don’t remember if I have.

Kyle: I had it when I was a little kid, but I don’t remember it.

Tiff: Oh god, I can smell it. And there is no alcohol in this one?

Kyle: Nope.

Tiff: Well it looks refreshing. (takes a drink) Oh!

Kyle: Tastes like lemonade with orange juice almost.

Tiff: It’s like a Kool Aid Man and a Ghostbuster had a baby. It’s not bad!

Kyle: It’s like someone slimed a Kool Aid Man.

RJ: I could drink ten of these at a barbecue.

Tiff: I wish there was some carbonation, though.

Overall, everyone thought it was at least “pretty good” if not very good. To me, it brought back a rush of memories. It did taste just a bit tangier than I remembered, but it was great. It was also expired, but I’m not sure that had anything to do with it.

Round 2 – Ecto Cooler with Regular Vodka

ecto cooler 2016

To portion things out evenly, we were measuring everything with a shot glass. For this round, we poured one shot of Platinum vodka and one shot of Ecto Cooler into each glass. Some Ecto Cooler was lost along the way. But thank God Kyle was pouring instead of me, or it would have been more than just some.

Kyle: Would you like a chopstick to stir your drink with? (hears stirring noise) I want that to be my ringtone!

Even stirred, it smelled pretty strong. I suggested we take it like a single shot, and that everyone should do their best.

Tiff: To doing your best! (glasses clink together)

RJ: Ooooh!

Kyle: Maybe there was too much vodka in mine… it did take the edge of the vodka, but I didn’t quite get the taste.

Tiff: (somewhat struggling to get it down) No, no, I’m in this 100%!

The look on Tiffany’s face says everything about how this round went:

Clearly, we should have used the Ecto Cooler as a chaser instead of mixing it in, or using less vodka. This round was not a success.

Round 3 – Ecto Cooler with Orange Vodka and Inventing a Mixed Drink

At this point, I knew we needed something to take the edge off. While I instructed Kyle on making us a mixed drink (recipe at the end of the post!), RJ pointed out that there were no characters on the cans. He also pointed out that, for some reason, Ecto Cooler is pasteurized.

We divided out the rest of the Ecto Cooler into these mixed drinks, and they looked very cool when you poured in the seltzer.

Kyle: This drink should be called The Slimer! Especially because they’re in round boy jugs! (we used mason jars)

RJ: That is good.

Tiff: Oh yeah!

Kyle: It has the benefit of looking like it’s radioactive. Can we make Ecto Cooler lean? Can that be our next thing?

Overall, everyone really liked the mixed drinks. We basically stood around just enjoying them and making small talk, not really conversing too much about the drink anymore.

We did all decide, however, that Ecto Cooler would be a great mixer for a refreshing summer cocktail if it was still readily available.

Millennials React to Ecto Cooler

Other than me, I don’t think anyone was blown away by this stuff. It brought me back to another time, but it didn’t do that for anyone else because they didn’t quite remember the taste.

Everyone enjoyed it, though. The mixed drink was the biggest hit, but the Ecto Cooler itself was seen as a tangy, refreshing drink you could probably down a can of in about 2 minutes without realizing how much sugar you just drank.

My friends’ reactions made sense to me, because here’s the thing– unless you have nostalgia for this stuff, it’s not life changing. It’s just another sugary beverage. It does have its own unique taste, but you won’t be missing that taste unless it’s burned into your memory.

I’m grateful I could share this expired Ecto Cooler with my friends, because the time we spent together was the best part. Beverages come and go, but friends are forever.

And so are ghosts. Unless you have an ecto containment unit.

The Slimer – Recipe

ecto cooler 2016

The Slimer (1 serving)

  • 3 oz Ecto Cooler
  • 1.5 oz orange vodka
  • Fill glass about ¾ full with lime seltzer
  • Serve over ice and mix well

8 thoughts on “We Put Vodka in Our Expired Ecto Cooler – Dragon Fortress Features

  1. Cuda

    So long as cans are not swolen or sunken, everything should be good in theory. No deaths should occur, except maybe some underpants from diarrhea. There is that steve mre guy on youtube that will eat extremely old mres and emergency rations, so long as the food is still edible.

    Things like sugar can break down over time. A small amount will cause the drink to taste sour or bitter, and over time can cause the sugars to malt into alcohol. That’s why even juice drinks get pasteurized. Helps eliminate bacteria and molds, which delays the breakdown inside the solution. I use to work at a small beverage plant. Learned a ton of useful information there, and most people would never be aware of just how dangerous making 10,000 gallons of coffee a day can be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s good to know about the pasteurization! I would never have had any idea. And I do assume there are 8 billion things that can go wrong at any factory that makes canned or frozen food/drink, so I appreciate the effort those workers put in to make sure I’m not dead. Because I do eat a lot of canned and frozen things. Like any mature adult.

      We weren’t worried about it being expired since it’s kind of a “best by” date at that point. It didn’t smell funny, the cans were fine, and it wasn’t fermented so that was good enough. But it being expired just kind of added another layer of fun. No one got sick and no one pooped irregularly, as far as I know.

      That MRE guy sounds very brave. I bet he gets sick or poops irregularly pretty often.


  2. A friend of mine bought me a case of the juice boxes, before they disappeared off shelves (never saw them myself). They were pretty good! Obviously not mind-blowing or anything, but they seemed to taste like I remembered. I spaced them out and let them last, which was easy, ’cause NOBODY WANTED ANY. Like, not a single friend or family member that I asked. Just straight up declined. Come on, man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What kind of people do you hang around with??? I would have loved to try it from the juice box again. I mean, the cans are probably safer, but I never get to have a juice box. Unless Capri Sun counts, because I still buy Lunchables from time to time. That is my right as a childless man in his 30s.

      But there has to be some part of you that enjoyed having every single juice box to yourself.


      1. Well, yes, I suppose there’s satisfaction in knowing that they’ll only run out as fast as I’m drinking them, but I was also hoping to share my “hey look, this used to be amazing but now it probably isn’t, let’s laugh about it or something” feeling.

        Oh, and yes, I’d say Capri Sun counts. Hell, we still buy those and keep them in the mini fridge in the basement.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A-Man

    Never tried it.

    I did recently drank a can of Dr. Pepper that was an Avengers movie collector’s can, and it wasn’t Infinity War. I thought about saving it, but saving sealed cans of soda is absurd. I know what happens after a long time, they lose mass, like something seeps away.

    Anyway, the soda was still good….and I’m deliberately trying to not use “pop”. For some reason some people get weird about pop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man! I’d probably trust that Dr. Pepper, too. But I’m not a huge Dr. Pepper fan, so my trust level on expired soda probably has nothing to do with whether I’d drink it or not. I wonder what the mass they lose is… I wish I knew more about the science of corn syrup drinks.

      People DO get weird about pop. But, you know what? I grew up calling it pop, too. Everyone in my family and my neighborhood did. Then, when I got to middle school, calling a canned fizzy drink “pop” was the least cool thing you could do. It was even less cool than wearing a Star Trek t-shirt and keeping X-Men comics in your locker (trust me, I know).


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