June 13, 2005

American History Coke

So, I was talking about my Coke Zero post with Ryan and Sara. Ryan hadn’t read it yet.

I was telling them about the formulation of Coke vs. New Coke. Basically rehashing what I wrote on the blog. I mentioned something like “you know what happened to New Coke” and I’m getting blank stared from him and Sara.

“What’s New Coke?”

My jaw drops.

Considering that the whole New Coke thing happened around the time of my first year of college, it’s well into the “things everyone alive knows about” portion of my brain. But, of course, Ryan and Sara were, what, about 4 years old when that happened. And Coke reversed its fiasco relatively quickly, erasing the embarrassment from the shelves.

I actually had to explain New Coke to somebody.

It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

Posted by James at June 13, 2005 11:06 AM
Create Social Bookmark Links

I'm still waiting for Quaker Oats to return to its original formula for Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries. Every time I eat them out of the box my hands turn blue.

Posted by: Mike at June 13, 2005 12:34 PM

I remember New Coke, I was young but I remember. I also remember be very skeptical of Crystal Pepsi, and then not at all fazed when it was discontinued.

I miss tan colored M & M's; they were my favorite color. Blue is a good replacement color, but tan has sentimental value for me. There were always so few tan ones in a bag -that made them special.

Posted by: Sharon at June 13, 2005 1:23 PM

Tan M&M's??? What?

Also, my mom was big into the no soda, no candy for as long as possible deal. My grandmother, however, introduced me to candy fairly young {Grandparents are great.} If we were really really sick we could have some ginger ale, but that was it. Other than ginger ale I didn't have any other soda until I was about 12 and it was at friends' houses. The only soda we regularly had in the house was nana's diet coke and was off limits. My brother really didn't even like soda until he was 17, but I still think he prefers Cranberry Juice.

Posted by: Sara at June 13, 2005 1:47 PM

Yeah, M & M's lost the tan color for blue in 1995. There was a nationwide vote to decide on a new color or if the colors should remain the same.

I guess the brown ones didn't fill the brown-quota, so they had tan ones too.

Posted by: Sharon at June 13, 2005 2:19 PM

New Coke happened in your first year of college? You really are an old f***. I seem to remember it happening when I was in middle school.

Crystal Pepsi I think was big around my senior year in high school. That's when Clearly Canadian and otehr bottled waters were starting to get big too.

Posted by: David Grenier at June 13, 2005 2:29 PM

I thought I was in high school for New Coke. Wait. I bet it was the summer between high school and college. Hold on. When was Live-Aid? Because it was the same summer as Live-Aid.

I also liked the tan M&Ms best. I wonder if they were introduced when the red ones were withdrawn (I don't remember).

I remain wary of the red ones. I realize they are perfectly safe now, but they still seem wrong.

Posted by: Julie at June 13, 2005 2:57 PM

Live Aid was in the summer of 1985. A friend of mine recorded it off his TV and during the recording his dog yelped about something. When we were driving down the road the next day listening to the tape we freaked out thinking we had hit some poor animal on the road.

NPR occasionally does something similar and airs a report with sirens playing in the background causing a few cars like mine to pull to the side for no reason.

Posted by: Mike at June 13, 2005 3:03 PM

I remember the contest for the new M&M color, I just don't remember there being tan m&m's.

Posted by: Sara at June 13, 2005 3:03 PM

It was the summer of '85, I think. So we were in-between. But it carried over into college for us.

Posted by: James at June 13, 2005 3:12 PM

The tan ones went away a while (maybe quite a while) before the blue ones appeared. Red was gone for a while but came back. I remember the contest. Was it really 10 years ago?

Also Coke classic is not quite the same as original coke. REAL coca cola has good old fashion cane sugar instead of corn syrup. I remember buying some old coke thinking it would be a collectors item and then drinking them because New Coke was so bad. I still think the new coke thing was completely because they were hiding the fact that they were switching from cane to corn sweeteners.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 13, 2005 3:29 PM

I knew someone was going to mention the cane sugar/corn syrup thing. They had already completed the transition to corn syrup before New Coke came out.

Partial quote from
(which also talks about how Diet Coke is really artificially sweetened New Coke):

An interesting little claim sprang up in the wake of the introduction of Classic Coke, one having to do with its sweetener. People swore they detected a change in the flavor between Classic Coke and the original. This gave rise to the rumor that the product had been reformulated, dropping cane sugar in favor of high fructose corn syrup. Depending upon whom you listened to, either the demand for the return of original Coca-Cola afforded the company the opportunity to switch from cane sugar to corn syrup or the whole fiasco of taking original Coca-Cola off the shelves and reintroducing it three months later as Classic Coke was all a brilliant scheme to mask the change in sweetener. According to whispered wisdom, the company had hoped to slip the modification past consumers by having it take place during the original beverage's absence from the shelves. People would be so darned glad to have Classic Coke back that they wouldn't notice it didn't taste the same as original Coca-Cola. (Another twist to this rumor had it that New Coke had deliberately been formulated to taste awful in order to facilitate the switch this supposedly gave Coca-Cola an excuse for pulling the original formula and then putting it back on the market after a brief absence, making it look all along as if they were simply responding to consumer demands.)

The change in sweetener wasn't anything that diabolical. Corn syrup was cheaper than cane sugar; that's what it came down to. In 1980, five years before the introduction of New Coke, half the cane sugar in Coca-Cola had been replaced with high fructose corn syrup. By six months prior to New Coke's knocking the original Coca-Cola off the shelves, there was no cane sugar in American Coca-Cola. Whether they knew it or not, what consumers were drinking then was 100% sweetened by high fructose corn syrup.

Posted by: at June 13, 2005 3:38 PM


I remember drinking a lot of RC and Adirondack cola during that time.

You can still get RC Cola down south but I haven't seen it up here. I keep forgetting to check if Adirondack cola is still around.

Posted by: Julie at June 13, 2005 3:41 PM

Julie beat me to it.

Yeah, I am a Coke geek, but I guess I've got decent company.

Posted by: James at June 13, 2005 4:00 PM

Facts, I don't need any stinking facts.

I like my theory better. By the way I seem to remember seeing/hearing/reading somewhere that fountain coke still has cane sugar. I should probably check that out at snopes too... but I'm not going to.

Posted by: B.O.B.(bob) at June 13, 2005 4:22 PM

I remember reading that too, but it was a loooong time ago. It may have been true for a while, but it's not the case now (it wouldn't make any sense for them to have a different formula since the bottlers get it in syrup form too). I don't think it's mentioned on snopes.

I do think fountain coke tastes a little better, but I think it has something to do with "freshness."

Only time I notice fountain Coke tasting much different from canned is when the local water tastes really awful or if they accidentally poured some of the wrong syrup into the machine (I once poured some root beer syrup into the coke thing when I was working at Woolworth's... only one customer complained).

Posted by: Julie at June 13, 2005 4:35 PM

To get Coke with cane sugar, buy it around any Jewish holiday in stores in Jewish neighborhoods. Apparently cane sugar is Kosher, corn syrup isn't.

Had an old sysadmin that would do that. He'd stock up on a few months of coke at a time.

Posted by: Bob McCown at June 13, 2005 9:07 PM

Interesting recommendation! Now there would be a fun side-by-side to see which people like better.

Mission: Get Passover Coke.

Posted by: James at June 13, 2005 9:16 PM

Coke is too fizzy, Pepsi is too sweet. I miss Jold cola ("all the sugar and twice the caffeine").

What I really miss is President's Choice cola, which was kind of a store brand at Star Market. When the bastards at Shaw's bought out Star, all the President's Choice products disappeared (the cookies were good, too).

President's Choice cola was sweet, but not too, and not overly carbonated. This is a Canadian brand, so when I travel to the Great White North, I like to bring some back. Last year, I called their headquarters and asked a very nice sales woman if their products were available anywhere near me. "Are you near Michigan?" she asked? Um...no. WAH!

If anyone's going up north anytime soon, let me know--I'd like to place an order...

Posted by: Patti M. at June 14, 2005 8:34 AM

Following on Sara's comment {"my mom was big into the no soda"), we didn't have a lot of soda in the house. I do remember Pepsi Light that had lemon in it. Mmm...

Who remembers Zarex? Yep, never had that, either,or that powdered stuff with the talking carafe. I don't think I missed anything except perhaps rotten teeth.

Posted by: Patti M. at June 14, 2005 8:37 AM

Our kids won't drink soda, and we don't force it on them, of course.

K will only drink water and milk. M will drink that and some fruit juices.

Oh - they'll both drink ice cream shakes.

Posted by: James at June 14, 2005 9:32 AM

Note: fruit juices are full of sugar and just as fattening as soda, in many cases. Don't be fooled by the "natural" argument.

I could go for an ice cream float right now! Root beer and vanilla ice cream. Who's with me?

Posted by: Patti M. at June 14, 2005 9:36 AM

Za-rex is still around. I don't remember a talking carafe.

Adirondack and RC Colas were not too fizzy, not too sweet. I know some of the Adirondack brand sodas are still around. You might be able to find the cola at a Super-Shaw's, Super Stop & Shop, etc. where there's more shelf space.

Posted by: Julie at June 14, 2005 9:41 AM

Of course, Coke is not too fizzy if you let it go flat.

I love slightly flat Coke over ice.

Posted by: James at June 14, 2005 9:52 AM

Probably my favorite part of soda is the fizz. The fizzier the better! That's why I love seltzer; super refreshing and lots of fizz to go stright up your nose. I used to buy it by the case at Costco. Vintage is by far my favorite brand. I usually get it unflavored, but their Mandarin flavor is pretty good too. Adirondack seltzer is my second favorite brand, but I prefer their flavored varieties to their unflavored.

Posted by: Sharon at June 14, 2005 11:52 AM

I just remembered: Kool-Aid! That's the one with the talking carafe.

Posted by: Patti M. at June 14, 2005 12:14 PM

Oh, *that* talking carafe. I had a nightmare about him once. You know how in the commercials the Kool-Aid pitcher guy would just burst through a wall singing "oh yeah!!!"? Well, in my dream, he was crazy mad and on a rampage.

Posted by: Julie at June 14, 2005 12:17 PM

Now that you mention it, Julie, I can see where Kool-Aid Man would be fertile material for a nightmare (one in which your teeth jump out of your head, screaming).

Posted by: Patti M. at June 14, 2005 12:21 PM

Mmmmmmmm. Passover coke. That's the only time you can get it. It's not around any Jewish holiday. Just Passover. It has to do with extra stringent Kashrut rules for the holiday. Ordinarily, corn syrup is fine. But during Passover, corn is off limits.

Posted by: briwei at June 14, 2005 2:39 PM

Note to self: Stock up on Coke next Passover.

Thanks for the tip, guys.

Posted by: Patti M. at June 14, 2005 3:05 PM

Don't buy too much of it, Patti.

The quality degrades over time. Even if you like the cane sugar better, after a few months I bet the fresh stuff will taste better. Especially if you buy it int he PET bottles, because they are slightly oxygen permeable. I think.

That's why they're only good for storing beer very short term. Oxidation.

So I hear.

Posted by: James at June 14, 2005 3:24 PM

Damn. James's logic put the kibosh on my plans!

Posted by: Patti M. at June 14, 2005 3:39 PM

Cans stay fresh for quite a while. I recently drank a can of orange soda... it was the last of a 12-pack I bought when I moved into my house. Tasted just as good as the first can.

Which I opened in Nov. 2003.

Granted, it was refrigerated the whole time. Maybe it degrades faster at RT.

I know for sure that soda stays fizzy a lot longer in cans than it does in plastic.

Posted by: Julie at June 14, 2005 3:45 PM

I imagine that cans do last longer. And I don't know if refrigeration helps with the carbonation, but I wouldn't be too surprised.

Posted by: James at June 14, 2005 3:59 PM

So, just vacuum pack your bottles. Problem solved. ;-)

Posted by: briwei at June 14, 2005 4:32 PM

Back when I was a Pepsi addict I was also a can snob, and would not buy it in plastic bottles.

I have definately mellowed with age.

Posted by: Sharon at June 14, 2005 5:47 PM

I don't think you can really declare yourself a snob unless you are insisting on glass bottles. Cans are way too easy. ;-)

Posted by: Julie at June 14, 2005 9:05 PM

Sweet drinks starve Americans of nutrition

"A study showing that sweet drinks have overtaken white bread as the leading source of calories in the American diet may mean that the nutrition gap is even wider than previously thought, reports Jess Halliday. But according to the lead researcher, functional and fortified alternatives may not be a safe bridge."


Posted by: Patti M. at June 17, 2005 2:30 PM

It's useful to have children who will drink at least juice or a little bit of ginger ale. K won't drink juice or soda at all (I never gave her any, but it never occurred to me in my zealous anti-sugar parenting that she wouldn't). M started drinking kool-aid, I think it was, when she was around two years old and sick, and the doctor told me I couldn't nurse her until she got better. She takes her pills with a few sips of juice in the morning, and I give it to her when she's sick and I need to make sure she stays hydrated. Otherwise, my children don't drink soda (neither have ever had it) or juice.

It's useful if they'll drink it when they're recovering from a GI bug. Because K won't drink any of those things, we've had to bring her to the hospital for IV fluids a few times. (Sometimes she'll drink broth, sometimes not.)

Sugary drinks have a lot of calories (although juice has some nutrients going for it that soda doesn't), but that doesn't make them bad. Overeating or overdrinking anything is what's bad.

Everything in moderation.

Posted by: Maggie at June 17, 2005 7:14 PM

I remember Zarex. We used to buy it at the A
&P. It was a super sweet syrup that you would mix with water to make a sweet drink. I was a kid in the 50's and recall summer days when mom would make a pitcher for dinner or by the glassful in the afternoon.

I recall 3 flavors - red, cherry flavor, orange, and green, which was probably lemon lime.

It came in a neat jug, it looked like a little gallon jug with a little handle. it was tempting to "swig" right from the bottle but so sweet your eyes would spin. Once was enough to try that.


Posted by: Jack at August 7, 2005 11:21 AM

They still make it, but it's not easy to find. I haven't been able to figure out what it's really good for.

Posted by: Julie at August 7, 2005 2:19 PM

Copyright © 1999-2007 James P. Burke. All Rights Reserved