R.I.P. Nuun Kona Cola: A Eulogy

nuun eulogy

Dearest Friends.

We are gathered today to celebrate the life of Nuun Kona Cola, a lovely brownish hydration tablet whose life fizzed out too early.

Yes, it may seem a bit awkward to mourn the loss of a flavor of hydration tablet, but Kona Cola? It has no peer. Far from having contemporaries, it ruled the world of sports hydration flavors.

Friends, let me tell you a little story. Because, in the tradition of most eulogies, I'm actually going to talk about myself, not the deceased.

Once in a while, a drink comes into your life that changes your life.

For an unhealthy number of my relatives, that was a one-olive, dry martini—or three of them—at lunch.

For me, that drink was Kona Cola.

Way back in the day, in 2004, when Nuun was just a few roots of the hydrated tree it’s grown up to be, I tasted Kona Cola at a trade show. I was smitten.

Just a few sips of the drink with such a badass, aspirational name gave my taste buds access to an elite world of Ironman Triathletes. Athletes who, after a long day battling the waves in the ocean and the winds on their bikes, could only sip flat Coke as they ticked off sub-6 minute splits on a marathon.

They’d sip flat Coke, barely stopping at the aid station, to keep their energy up and their roiling stomachs quiet. Then they’d continue clicking off crazy fast splits, wearing their Speedo suits that they’d worn all day. Their faces were streaked with salt, their eyes echoed all the miles they’d covered that day, but they were still charging. They had trained all year for this, and a few GI issues were not going to ruin 364 days of preparation.

I knew I’d l never compete in Kona. I knew I’d never run one sub-six-minute mile, let alone 26.2 consecutive ones. And Lord knows, I’d never wear a swimsuit anywhere but a pool deck.

But my taste buds could transport me to that world.

Kona Cola reminded me, in my own #motherrunner way, to keep charging. Keep charging through too many injuries, through miles that I was sure would never end, through workouts when I wondered what in the hell I was doing out there, alone, clicking off miles that felt meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

A little dramatic? Of course. But sometimes you have think big to go big. Kona Cola truly helped me go big.

And as I head into my next attempt at going big—a 50K—I’m going to sorely miss my little brown tablets that I lovingly dropped into at least two bottles before long workouts. At least one for the workout, and one, with extra ice, to enjoy on the drive home.

Of course, I’ll find a new favorite flavor. And I’ll figure out, through my miles of upcoming training, a way to forgive Nuun for retiring of all time.

But rest assured, I’ll never forget you, sweet KC. Thank you for the many, lightly caffeinated, happy miles.

If you're feeling as sad as I am, one way to quell your sadness: Stock up on Kona Cola. It's on—sniff—discontinuation sale. To save even more beans, use code "amrnuun" to get 20% off your order. 



19 responses to “R.I.P. Nuun Kona Cola: A Eulogy

  1. I bought a case of Kona Cola after they were discontinued, and was googling around today for them where I found this blog. I still have one tablet left though! Also, did you ever mix a Kona Cola with two Nuun Plus? AMAZING! It was AMAZING. Why does Nuun hate us?

  2. I just tried to buy more, and I can get 8 tubes for $154, but I guess I’ll have to just savor my last tablet.
    Why on earth did they discontinue this flavor? It is hands down, my favorite.
    And many others’ favorite, judging by the responses here.

  3. Oh no – what am going to do without my beloved Kona Cola?! I kid you not, my addiction to Kona Cola is legendary (at least within my household)…I’ve even been known to sing a little song to the tune of Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa” while waiting for the tablet to dissolve (“Kona Cola, you hydrate me, Kona Cola, you’re so tasty.”). Thanks for bringing the sale to our attention – I’m off to shop away before it’s too late!

  4. I was devastated when I received your e-mail this morning. Nooooo! I drink Kona Kola all day long, every day. I double up the tabs to make it extra strong. I get it by subscription from Amazon, delivered directly to my home. I keep tubes stashed everywhere–in my purse, in my lunchbox, all over my car… It keeps me off the Diet Coke. I just placed what might seem like a large order, but it probably won’t last me long. I was aware that my obsession is unusual. They don’t sell the Kona Kola flavor in the stores here, and when I’ve asked why at race expos I’ve been told that it is the least popular flavor. WHAT?!?! I’m going to have to start to taper, wean myself slowly. I am comforted by the fact that someone else is also traumatized by this announcement. There is comfort in community.

  5. I feel your pain. This is my favorite as well. So, I just stocked up. With a half and likely full marathon on the race calendar this year, I want this in my training arsenal!

  6. oh yes! I have stocked up! I *might* have more of the discontinued flavors in my cupboard than a few local running stores have in Nuun stock combined. For me, the big pull is that I have tried really hard to give up soda and I SO love me some Coca Cola! (the REAL thing!) Kona Cola was the closest I could get to relieving the craving without caving in. And, my oh my, how hard it is to go through withdrawals again! Don’t tell the family……while I have overstocked the cupboard, there are still a tube or 2 hidden away for my own selfish personal use!

  7. What?!? I had no idea they were discontinuing it. It’s really surprising since the stores I buy it in always run out of that flavor first.

  8. I saw this discontinuation sale a month or so and thought of you, Dimity. For a few brief moments, I felt your pain when I saw the Watermelon Nuun on the same sale. Luckily for me, my flavor was only on sale, not clear-out. I’m honestly not sure I could adapt. My suggestion, learned after years of watermelon nuun being seasonal, is to hoard it. Yes, there won’t be a “next summer” for you, but you can slowly transition out and ease your pain.

  9. Way back in the day (1982) we would stash coke during our long trail runs (out and back) to help us through the last few miles of a 4 – 6 hour run. I still went for the coke in my last Ironman in 2009. I think it will still be at the aid stations during my next one….I hope! Nothing beats that flavor when you are headed towards depletion….!

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