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I've been a night person all my life and this is the first time anyone's appreciated it! I was born in Philadelphia and lived many years in the Baltimore area. I've loved radio since I was a kid and consider myself extremely lucky to do it for a living. I'm a 2002 graduate of the DC campus of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, I'm a writer, musician and cartoonist in my free time. And I'm a huge fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers as well as the Maryland Terrapins.
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Joy And Heartache in the World of Sodapop

by JD posted Oct 1 2013 6:50PM

I have a confession to make: I loved New Coke.

Sometimes a product just doesn't catch on with the public, for whatever reason. Maybe it doesn't taste good. Maybe it's not user-friendly. Maybe it costs too much. Maybe it just doesn't work right. A few of these are sodas. One is the aforementioned New Coke, which lasted a mere 77 days back in 1985. I really liked New Coke. I grew up in a household where Coca-Cola was forbidden, so I when the urge for a can of Coke struck, I would be obliged to buy it in secret and drink it outside the house, which sounds just as ridiculous now as it seemed to me as a kid.

In any case, as a kid I was pretty impressionable. My sister convinced me that the word "gullible" had been removed from the dictionary. I checked not one, but three of them, and one was Webster's New English Dictionary, which was about the size of a telephone directory. To put it another way, when advertising executives are dreaming up ad campaigns for cereals, they're thinking about the type of kid I was.

So when I saw the press barrage regarding the launch of New Coke, I was intrigued. By this time the Coca-Cola embargo in my house had lessened, and so I asked my mom to pick me up some of this New Coke from the supermarket. She obliged and brought home a 2-liter bottle of the stuff. I remember taking my first taste and being very impressed. It tasted like a cross between the old Coke and Pepsi.

After that I was hooked. I drank it constantly, sometimes to the chagrin of my parents, who then had to deal with me in a state of caffiene overload. I touted the stuff to my incredulous friends, who told me in no uncertain terms that they hated New Coke and suggested I consult with my doctor to see if there was something wrong with my tastebuds (something I still haven't entirely ruled out).


And then, just as soon as it appeared, it was gone. The executives at Coca-Cola admitted while wiping egg from their faces that they had made a horrible mistake. New Coke was mothballed and the old formula was reinstated, now called Coke Classic. However, the stores and vending machine operators weren't about to just throw out perfectly good product, so for a while I stockpiled it. At one point I had ten cases of it in my pantry. But of course this soon dwindled and was soon gone. I mourned it for a time, then went on to Mountain Dew, which wasn't going anywhere and had even more caffiene.


Even after the original formula was restored, New Coke continued to be produced. It was reintroduced on a limited scale in 1990 under the name Coke II. It remained in certain pockets of the country but its sales eventually dwindled to nothing and it was discontinued for good in 2002. Until that time, you could still get it from the massive soda fountain in Coke headquarters in Atlanta that dispenses every drink Coke produces.


Interestingly, New Coke is still around in one form. When you drink Diet Coke, you're drinking New Coke. The formula for both is the same other than the artificial sweetener used in the diet version. That's why they've got Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Coke Zero uses the original formula. That's also why there is both a Diet Coke and Coke Zero. With all of Coke's other products, such as Sprite, the Zero name supplanted the Diet. But only the name changed. With respect to their formula, Diet Sprite and Sprite Zero are identical.

Even after my heartbreaking experience with New Coke, I still fall for this kind of stuff. When Crystal Pepsi was launched, I embraced it whole-heartedly. It didn't last. Same thing for 7-up Gold, which was, if you can believe it, spice flavored soda. I loved it. I also loved Pepsi Blue, which was blue raspberry flavored (well, it was raspberry flavored; there is no actual difference in taste between raspberry and blue raspberry flavors) This one lasted a year or so before getting the axe, then recently it was reintroduced as a Mountain Dew flavor and last I checked was still available in that form.

The point I'm driving at here is that if there is some bizarro flavor of soda introduced, I'll try it right away. And then usually I'll develop a taste for it. Then it will disappear. Remember Coca-Cola C2? It was Coke with half sugar and half artificial sweetener. I went nuts for that stuff. They pulled it. These days I'm drinking mostly Pepsi Max. I'm hoping that this fact doesn't contribute to its demise.

10/01/2013 6:50PM
Joy And Heartache in the World of Sodapop
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