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What Happened to Bawls? September 16, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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Since shortly after its release, Bawls has been known as a soda exclusively drank by gamers, BMX riders and paintballers.  It was designed to be a high-caffeinated soda in a world where high caffeinated beverages like Red Bull are extremely popular, but they all reportedly taste like crap.  Bawls was different.  It is a high caffinated soda that tasted great.  A great tasting high caffinated product didn’t take long for this product to find itself a market, and it did, with the gamers.

How much of a gamer’s drink was it?  I first became aware of the product because it was being sold by the case in computer stores like CompUSA.  That just shows you how hardcore it was. To advertise their product, Bawls would sponsor LAN parties, where gamers would get their computers together in a common venue and challenge each other at the latest games. They even sponsored LAN parties as big as Quakecon or as small as the local ones here that took place in a converted bar.

You’ve seen me drink it with friends in some of the past videos I’ve done.  The reason why I did it was because recently it is popular to shoot a video of yourself trying some weird or obscure food or beverage online and post it up for people to see.  While the practice of trying new food and beverages on camera and posting it online has been popular for quite a while, I have not seen a single internet personality try Bawls, so I took it upon myself to do it.

But why did Bawls become so obscure and get so hard to find?

In 2007 I started to notice it was getting easier to find Bawls in stores. While CompUSA, originally the only store I could buy the soda, was shutting down for good, 7-11s and various gas stations in my area started to sell the stuff by the bottle.  Trust me, I would buy out their stock as much as I could!  Then I started to see it was being sold in four-packs of cans by Target.  The packaging style was just like Red Bull was being sold. With Target selling it across the country I was elated I could get Bawls so easily, but I preferred the taste of the soda in the glass bottles opposed to how it tasted in aluminum cans.

Then around 2009 something awful happened. For some reason Target stopped selling the four packs of the can version in their stores. I no longer could find bottles or cans of the soda in 7-11s or smaller grocery stores.  I couldn’t even find Bawls in Publix, and they were one of the very few major grocery stores that sold Bawls early on.  The official Bawls webpage stopped being updated with content.  The company stopped sponsoring major events like Quakecon.

Heck, even some LAN centers were having trouble stocking the stuff.  What was going on?

For over a year, the only place I could find the stuff would be online through sites like Thinkgeek or Amazon, and you’d be paying upwards of fifty dollars a case for it!  It was a very dark, expensive time, but you could tell that the demand was still there.  Thinkgeek said on numerous occasions it was one of their biggest selling products, and it would have to be restocked constantly.

So what happened?  I did some research and it turns out that the company nearly went bankrupt around 2009. The owners of the company were forced to step down and were replaced by the current owners of the product, BAWLS Acquisition (yes that same organization I listed as the owners in my videos).

According to the research I did, it turns out the product had extended itself tremendously to tons of different retail channels in 2008, and by 2009 it couldn’t be sustained. In my opinion, this happened because you had a niche product being sold to a mass market.  This is not a major problem for most similar products.  Red Bull and Monster have thrived in the past few years as a mass market product and they supposedly taste awful, but Red Bull and Monster had massive marketing campaigns on TV and in print to get awareness of the product out, and what their gimmick was. Aside from appearing as background in The Hangover, Bawls did not step up its marketing campaign to match their product expansion.  It was still a product only known by its base but it was being widely distributed through more channels than could be sustained by the company.  The distribution network for the product crashed, which is why the only place we could get it was online for a year.

But there is a silver lining to all this.  Bawls is coming back.  Under this new management, Bawls has started getting back the distribution network it had before it imploded. According to a press release I read from earlier in the year, Bawls has regained about 65% of the distribution network they previously had before their near bankruptcy.  They even were a part of this year’s Quakecon.

If you’re a gamer or not, Bawls needed to realize that they had a really good product that could have mass appeal if marketed correctly. Forget about being a drink exclusive to gamers! The cool looking blue bottles alone are a very good sell when put next to other products in a refrigerator case. It’s very distinctive if properly put in an advertising campaign. It’s also one of the few high caffeinated beverages that tastes good! With some people forced to drink in excess of five of these a day just to stay alert while working, this is an extremely important selling point.

A store down the street from my house has started selling it again, and I’ve been told other people across my state have noticed it in various stores as well. Heck, I’ve talked to some other gas stations in my area that didn’t stock it and they seemed interested in stocking it based on my recommendation. If you like it, spread the word. You just might see it in a store near you.

Comments»

1. Meg - November 6, 2011

Bring Bawls back please, I loved that drink especially the root beer one. I live in Canada so bring it back to stores in Canada! Everyone will buy Bawls trust me, All of my friends love it.

2. Patrick - January 5, 2012

Please revive the greatest drink known to LANs ever. The crap that is out there now is just simply inferior. Heck, the look of the different glass containers are completely above anything that I have seen for $2.50. I like the Sugar Free ones about as much as the regular ones.

Bawls suffered from growing pains people, not from growing lame.

3. chris@mjcuk - April 13, 2012

Trying to get it imported to the UK, so this should also help get it overseas.

4. Brideau - November 5, 2012

Last weekend was my first time getting a taste of that drink, and I must say, not only does it taste good, it also keeps me going for much longer than the other energy drinks (such as redbull or AMP), which I don’t really understand the reason. I have found this blog while researching where I can get more of it, but I guess I might have to wait since no one here sells it (I was in another province (I’m in Canada).

5. Apoc - April 3, 2016

It’s 2016. Still waiting in Canada

Rick - August 1, 2018

It’s 2018. Still waiting.

Brian - December 2, 2018

Approaching 2019, assuming it’s not going to happen 😥


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