Share

cover art for What happened to Lilt (and why?)

Pop Culture: The Soft Drinks Podcast

What happened to Lilt (and why?)

What the hell happened to Lilt? If you were blindsided over its reincarnation as a Fanta drink in 2023, then consumer journalist Rob Brown is here to tell you what happened and why. Plus, cocktails that taste like Yankee Candles (bad) and Blue WKD's reinvention as a 0% drink (erm, good, we guess?) and a lovely mailbag of listener stories and feedback to last week's Coca-Cola episode with Chris Hewitt.


Helen's prepping for the Empire podcast tour (tickets here) and Kat's getting to ready to launch her next book, No One Talks About This Stuff (preorder here).


Extra Lilt deep dive stuff:

The data (Marketing Week)

Killing Lilt (The Brand Gym)

Rob's piece on the reaction (The Grocer)


Episode transcript


If you’ve got a favourite drink you’d like to share with us or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. See what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast.


Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read our books, our guests’ books, and other books we like, while helping to support the show at https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/pop-culture-soft-drinks-podcast


Artwork: Ilutaka

Music: HoliznaCC0

Lilt advert via: 101soundboards

More episodes

View all episodes

  • 2. Welcome back - with fizz!

    23:57
    On this special bonus episode of Pop Culture, your hosts Kat Brown and Helen O'Hara reunite to catch you up on what's been happening since you last heard us, and explain the new plans for the show (we're going fortnightly, basically - or if you're American, every two weeks). We also took the opportunity to try a new tipple we'd been sent. Wednesday's Domaine has just launched two new sparkling non-alc wines, an Eclat and a Cuvée, so we put them to the taste test and Helen tried her best not to just say that they tasted wine-y (though, you know, what else would non-alc wines taste like?). Elsewhere, we discuss the delights of beetroot cocktails at Ognisko (are we sure? Ed) and the surprising trend in German soft drinks after our time away, and get ready for a brand new season!If you’ve got cool knowledge about soft drinks that you'd like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note, a question, or your thoughts on all things drinks so we can share it on a future show.Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read books by us, our guests, and others we like, while helping to support the show. Thank you for listening and, until Helen comes up with another catchphrase, keeeeeep drinking!
  • 1. Seedlip & seasn's Ben Branson: 'I wanted to close the business every week.'

    48:45
    Is it overkill to say that Ben Branson basically invented the non-alc drinks space as we have it now? Through his invention, Seedlip, a billion-dollar non-alc industry now exists, bringing quality drinks into restaurants, bars, and homes around the world. Ben tells us the hard truths of launching a new product when you're one person (especially when it's non-alcoholic), the best and worst things people said to him, his secret future plans... it was truly a breath of fresh air to speak to him. Ben's latest invention is seasn cocktail bitters, beloved by sommeliers Melania Bellesini (The Fat Duck) and Helen McGinn (Saturday Kitchen – and check out our episodes with both of them to hear them raving about them). Ben was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD in 2022, and subsequently founded the charity Prism ND to bring better awareness of neurodivergence to media coverage. Prism ND's first project is The Hidden 20%, a brilliant podcast where Ben interviews neurodivergent people with a central concept that "great minds think differently". Kat especially is a huge fan, so check it out. If you’ve got cool knowledge about soft drinks that you'd like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note, a question, or your thoughts on all things drinks so we can share it on a future show.Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read books by us, our guests, and others we like, while helping to support the show. Thank you for listening and, until Helen comes up with another catchphrase, keeeeeep drinking!
  • Everything Coca-Cola with Chris Hewitt

    01:04:28
    After last week's Fat Duck episode where we learned that fine restaurant had created its own cola in part to tempt Coke-addicted diners into trying something familiar but different, we are thrilled to welcome Helen's colleague from the magnificent Empire Film Podcast, and podcasting's number one Coke fiend, Chris Hewitt, onto the show to talk about all things Coca-Cola. We discuss Diet Coke, Coke Zero, New Coke, and everything in between, as well as thoughts on brand loyalty, nostalgia, identity, and how much sugar is too much sugar. Plus, all the latest non-alcoholic news, what we've been drinking and doing this week, we have a cola-themed mailbag, and Chris has some excellent stories about both Diet Coke and 'popcorn'.Empire podcast tour & ticketspicture proof of Chris's Bond marathon in 2006Episode transcriptIf you’ve got cool knowledge about soft drinks that you'd like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note, a question, or your thoughts on all things drinks so we can share it on a future show. Have a lovely week!
  • Getting curious at The Fat Duck with Melania Bellesini

    55:31
    The Fat Duck is one of the most creative restaurants in the world – we've paid to go, twice – and since 2018, Head Sommelier Melania Bellesini has made sure its soft drinks have measured up to its vast wine list. We were invited to get the gossip on their non-alc drinks and, unsurprisingly, jumped at the chance! From Melania's attempts at perfecting an own-label cola to the drink the staff vetoed, she shared her knowledge and then some – this is completely fascinating and has revolutionised how both of us think about putting a drink together and how we pair drinks with food. Put it this way – Helen's favourite drink is now a dead ringer for an Old Fashioned, and Kat's finally caved and brought some of the seasn 0% cocktail bitters which were used in lots of Melania's drinks, and is one step away from taking out shares in Wild Eve, Monin syrups, and Non. Plus, we asked Melania last week's listener question about food and booze, and someone fell down the stairs mid-interview – they're totally fine, but that's what the kerfuffle was all about. A big thank you to Melania Bellesini for her time and expertise, and to everyone at The Fat Duck for hosting us so beautifully. We did leave, eventually.Episode summaryIntroducing Melania. (3:21)Where to start with creating a non-alcoholic drinks pairing. (8:07)How to create a signature cocktail. (12:17)Creating alternatives, not replacements. (19:21)Pairing the right drink to the right dish. (26:16)The importance of glassware – and coffee. (32:36)What a sommelier drinks at home. (39:55)The Fat Duck version of Coca-Cola. (46:11)Non-alcoholic drinks at The Fat Duck restaurant. (52:34)Episode transcriptThe Fat Duck drinks menuIf you’ve got cool knowledge about soft drinks that you'd like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note, a quesion, or your thoughts on all things drinks so we can share it on a future show.Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read books by us, our guests, and others we like, while helping to support the show. Thank you for listening and, until Helen comes up with another catchphrase, keeeeeep drinking!
  • The lowdown on sugar

    01:01:22
    Listener Richard Kirke emailed in to offer us some explanation of how decisions are made around sweeteners and sugar in soft drinks, and how companies balance them out – especially post-sugar tax. Why Richard? Well, as well as being a composer, Richard glories in the job of beverage technician – he is one of the people who designs drinks and recalibrates them when they need to change but keeping their taste. It's a fascinating discussion and taught us a lot about taste, different sweeteners and – Helen's new favourite term – bricks.Episode notesWhat we drank at Kat's book launch (0:00)Insomnia, cheese, and book writing. (2:57)Froot Shoots, air up, and the nostalgia of squash (7:08)What are we drinking? Wednesday's Domaine (10:38)Richard Kirke interview (19:54)Launching new drinks and reducing sugar content. (23:12)Sugar alternatives in the food industry... (28:33)... and their limitations. (31:57)Artificial sweeteners and their potential health risks. (37:36)Food industry trends and sugar reduction. (41:30)Favourite soft drinks and exotic juices. (46:22)The mailbag! (47:22)Food and drink options for non-drinkers and vegetarians. (52:19)Episode transcriptIf you’ve got cool knowledge about soft drinks that you'd like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note or your thoughts on all things drinks – we love to hear from you, and we might share it on a future show.Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read books by us, our guests, and others we like, while helping to support the show. Thank you for listening and, until Helen comes up with another catchphrase, keeeeeep drinking!
  • Why we love a buzz with Professor David Nutt

    39:23
    Hello if you've come here from Grazia! If you're listening before Feb 1st, your two favourite pop enthusiasts have written about all things soft and you can read our piece in the current issue. Our guest today is Professor David Nutt, the renowned neuropsychopharmacologist and all-round science legend, who has dedicated much of his career to understanding how alcohol and drugs affect the brain. He co-founded GABA Labs to bring greater choices to adult social drinkers, and the first available result is Sentia: a non-alcoholic drink that gives you a two-drink buzz. We talk about why humans enjoy booze in the first place, and Prof Nutt's forthcoming products for GABA Labs – including Alcarelle, a genuinely revolutionary molecule that could be to alcohol what sweetener is to sugar.Tom Whipple's Sentia piece in The TimesHow drugs compare in terms of harmEpisode summary:We're in Grazia! (0:00)What are we drinking? M&S Frizzantea (2:34)Mailbag! Shirley Temple drink and its history. (6:13)Non-alcoholic drinks and drug policy with Professor David Nutt. (10:27)Alcohol's effects on social anxiety and harmful usage. (17:33)GABA and its role in the brain and food. (22:13)GABA-based functional drinks and their effects. (26:26)Alcohol harm and the future of Prof Nutt's non-alcoholic alternatives. (31:51)*smug fist bump to Duolingo lads who knows that 'Frizzantea' is a pun on 'frizzante' which means fizzy, and also, actual Italians*Episode transcriptIf you’ve got a favourite drink you’d like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note or your thoughts on all things drinks – we love to hear from you, and we might share it on a future show.Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read books by us, our guests, and others we like, while helping to support the show. Thank you for listening and, until Helen comes up with another catchphrase, keeeeeep drinking!
  • Sober clubbing with DJ Paulette

    01:02:36
    There's quite a lot of literal pop culture in this episode, with a lot of talk about film – Helen has a new Shakespeare buddy in Tom Hiddleston and a glorious story involving Coca-Cola from Mia McKenna-Bruce – and of equity and equality in the entertainment industry. Our guest is DJ Paulette: international DJ, legend of the Haçienda, author of Welcome to the Club: The Life and Lessons of a Black Woman DJ, and sober since 2018. So what's it like working in entertainment when you'd rather have a teapot than booze? And how do you connect with music if you're used to 'Dutch courage' from alcohol? Paulette and Helen have some advice for Kat – and anyone else who finds it hard to let go. And there's a lot of love for tea!There are plenty of goodies in our mailbag, with letters and messages encompassing Swiss beer, Irn Bru, Sentia, and a radler (10 points if you didn't have to google it, we definitely did) and some drinks recommendations we've got to order.Episode summaryMia McKenna-Bruce's Coca-Cola story and Shakespeare with Tom Hiddleston (2:14)January cinema and and we test out Loveau (6:18)Giving up alcohol and finding new ways to connect with crowds as a DJ. (13:40)The impact of alcohol on DJ Paulette's career and connections with others. (20:00)Sober clubbing and the importance of tea. (21:54)Dance floor confidence and vulnerability. (26:52)Non-alcoholic drink options in clubs and festivals. (30:59)Non-alcoholic alternatives to drinking. (36:19)The importance of speaking up and owning one's story. (41:00)Clubbing culture, women in film industry, and DJing. (47:17)Pop culture, soft drinks, and shelf life. (51:47)Non-alcoholic drinks and their ingredients. (57:31)Episode transcriptIf you’ve got a favourite drink you’d like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note, or your thoughts on all things drinks – we love to hear from you and we might share it on a future show. Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read books by us, our guests, and others we like, while helping to support the show. Thank you for listening and, apparently, keeeeeep drinking!
  • Why are non-alcoholic spirits expensive? Chris Bax of Bax Botanics explains all

    33:52
    We're all about spirits this week – not just because both of us went to see My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican (squee!) but because Helen chatted to Chris Bax of Wetherby craft sprit, Bax Botanics, (those delicious drinks we tried on our New Year episode) about the hows, whys, and whats of making a non-alcoholic spirit. And yes, this includes why they are expensive, and why the likes of Gordon's are not a competitor. We also take a quick whizz through drinks news, and a lot of chat about the divine qualities of tea, the right mug (on this episode, Helen favours a half-pint Emma Bridgewater, Kat a half-litre Dunoon Glencoe), the joys of Giffords Circus and more.Episode summaryWhere and what we've drunk this week. 0:00What are we drinking today. 3:50What’s in the news. 7:32Chris Bax of Bax Botanics. 12:44The cost (and price) of non-alcoholic spirits. 19:13Chris's favourite bars and cocktails. 24:12The Listener Mailbag. 30:004Episode transcriptIf you’ve got a favourite drink you’d like to share with us, or any other non-booze-related gossip, then email us at popculturedrinkspodcast@gmail.com. You can see what and where we've been drinking lately on Instagram @popculturedrinkspodcast, and join our mailbag! DM us a voice note, or your thoughts on all things drinks – we love to hear from you and we might share it on a future show.Pop Culture is on Bookshop.org! Read books by us, our guests, and others we like, while helping to support the show. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful week of drinks!