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City's Climax Set for Return?

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Richmonders haven't had a Climax for years.

But if one group of Georgia advertising students has its way, the defunct Richmond ginger-ale brand could be up for a rebirth. 

Climax ginger ale, made here from the 1930s to the late 1960s, was best known for its large sign visible from the Lee Bridge that featured running lights to indicate a spray of bubbles erupting from a bottle. To recapture its fizz, students at Savannah College of Advertising and Design picked the dead brand for a class project.

The original Climax brand kept its image clean. But the Georgia ad students' proposed edgy revival would add some, um, spice to the image.

For example, one student ad reads, “You won't need oysters when you're already shucking.”

That's in keeping the ancients' ideas about the aphrodisiacal properties of ginger, says Sean Trapani, the advertising professor who ran the Savannah class project.

And, of course, there's the name, he adds: “Undeniably it evokes certain ideas.”

Trapani's class found Climax among the 100 dead brands due for a renaissance listed on BrandlandUSA, a defunct-brand Web site run by former Richmonder, and Style Weekly editor and writer, Garland Pollard. The ad students worked on revival projects for 26 moribund brands including A&P grocery stores, Woolworth's, an early SUV by International Harvester called the Scout, and El Marko pens.

Richmond residents of a certain age probably recall the sign more than the ginger ale. But the drink apparently had enough ginger-powered zip to be memorable. “It burned your tongue when you drank it,” one Richmonder told Times-Dispatch columnist Ray McAllister in 1991. “Canada Dry and the others were too mild.”

Perhaps they still are.

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