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Why Zima Faded So Fast

The created-by-committee brew just didn't tickle the taste buds

With the beer industry going flat in the early 1990s, marketing execs at Adolph Coors Co. in Golden, Colo., thought they finally had a product that would put some bubble in their business: Zima, a clear malt concoction meant to attract young consumers. Lured by a quirky ad campaign, twentysomethings rushed to try the strange new brew.

There was just one problem: Almost nobody came back for seconds. "The taste was not appealing, and it left you feeling bloated," says Angel Cain, a 25-year-old IBM employee who tried Zima while at the University of North Carolina. Her cohorts across the country apparently agreed. And in the brief moment that it took them to reject the Zima fad lies one of the more embarrassing marketing miscalculations of the decade.