Will drinking this 'Ghostbusters' Hi-C Ecto Cooler from 1989 kill me?
The Hi-C Ecto Cooler may have been the greatest marketing tie-in ever executed. It arrived on store shelves in 1989, when Hi-C's Citrus Cooler flavor was renamed, and Slimer, the slimy ghost character from The Real Ghostbusters animated series, based on the '84 movie, was added to the box.
It was so wildly popular that Hi-C kept the Ecto Cooler branding until 2001, which was probably way after most juice-box-aged kids stopped knowing what a Ghostbuster was.
I can't really remember what it tasted like, other than sugar, and I'm pretty sure it was citrusy, although that fact was belied by its radioactive-green color. It was also delicious beyond my wildest 8-year-old dreams. Even through that tiny straw, I could crush a box in seconds. Ah, nostalgia.
So the only hope of tasting that sweet, sweet (10 percent) juice once again in its truest form lives on Ebay, where there is one, mint condition box listed with the tiny straw attached. The box reads "best if used by December 1993." The price is $379.
My biggest concern: will drinking it kill me?
Janice from Minute Maid consumer affairs told me the company doesn't recommend drinking its products after their best if used by date. Ebay seller ready_player_one writes in his listing, "I would advise against drinking the contents but I'm not your dad, so do what you want."
But what does science say?
"I doubt it will kill you. It may kill your childhood perhaps," said Keith R. Schneider, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Florida's department of food science. He added that due to chemical breakdown it's unlikely that the contents of the box have retained their ectoplasmic color or flavor. "It will probably be less than palatable, if you called the original 'palatable.' ... One concern would be leeching, the breakdown of the liner. Then you'd be ingesting 25 year old plasticizers."
Cecilia Nunez, a professor at the University of South Florida's Food Quality Laboratory agreed that the risks were relatively low, but she couldn't guarantee its safety, or what it might taste like.
"It may even taste sweeter because the sucrose in corn syrup might have been converted into fructose (and glucose) which is a sweeter sugar than sucrose," she wrote via email, conjuring the terrifying thought of an even-sweeter Ecto Cooler. "I would be more concerned about yeast or fungal growth than bacteria because usually these type of beverages have low pH (which bacteria doesn't like) and very little nutrient content (practically just sugar and water). But we can never tell for sure what might have grown inside after 25 years."
There was a glimmer of hope, though.
"You might open it, and will be just fine," Schneider said.
I'm in. Now there's just the little matter of that $379. If anyone wants to start a Kickstarter to raise the money, maybe I'll livestream myself drinking it in an ultimate moment of '90s nostalgia meeting modern technology. It can't be more dangerous than pillaging all our best '80s/'90s culture to keep making movies in 2016.