Anniversary Post: New Coke

New CokeOn this day in 1985, Coca-Cola introduced what became known as New Coke. But before I get to that, it is also the 11th anniversary of YouTube. I find that hard to believe. Even though 11 years is a long time, and I was on the internet for almost two decades before it appeared, it seems like YouTube was always with us. It’s hard for me to imagine life without it.

What I most remember about New Coke were the Bill Cosby ads. He had been the main spokesman for Coca-Cola. So I figured that when New Coke came out, they wouldn’t use him — at least at first. But no! They came right out with commercials of him saying, “Now you know me: I always loved Coke for years and years. I like this Coke better!”

Well, the New Coke was just a sweeter Coke. It tasted more like Pepsi. And at that point in my life, I liked the sweet taste of Pepsi. As I recall, I liked New Coke more than Pepsi. Now, I can’t drink Pepsi — it’s ghastly. What was soon to be called Classic Coke and now is just Coke, really is far more drinkable. But I don’t much drink any of it. I’m more a tea and beer man now.

The story of New Coke is that the original soda was losing market share to Pepsi. In blind taste tests, people did prefer Pepsi. So Coca-Cola decided to change the taste of the drink. This is a great example of how supposedly smart people often don’t know what they are doing. They should have know that people’s preference in soda (and pretty much everything else) is not rational. People didn’t make a rational choice between Coke and Pepsi.

So Bill Cosby lost that gig. But on the upside, he had more time to drug and rape women.

20 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: New Coke

  1. New Coke was a notorious marketing disaster:

    I come from a long line of Coke drinkers, and I love Coke, although I rarely drink it these days. I remember very clearly when New Coke came out. I was around 13 or 14, if I recall, and I was devastated. It was the worst thing I’d ever tasted. Sugary, syrupy, flavorless…I felt utterly betrayed. It completely lacked the crisp zip and zing of the Coke I was familiar with, and it was so bland and sweet. Ugh!! I felt like something I loved and was familiar with was taken from me. I was so relieved when they brought back the old Coke as “Classic Coke”….then eventually, they quietly phased out “New Coke” altogether. Thank God. I don’t know what they were thinking!

  2. Well, seems like SNL could celebrate the nostalgia by doing a Cosby stating how the taste of the New Coke effectively masks your favorite date-rape additives…….

  3. So we wished on the monkey’s paw and “old Coke” returned to life. Except, as is always the case, what came back wasn’t quite… the same. Now it leaves a slimy trail behind it…

      • Actually, no. Mouthfeel is as important as taste, and I find that HFCS sodas leave an unpleasant coating in the back of my throat. Kind of kills the “sparkly” feel of a carbonated drink.

        (I know they say that the transition to HFCS wasn’t really linked to the New Coke thing, but it did seem convenient. And the monkey’s paw part is totally real.)

        • I’ve never noticed the taste between HFCS and sugar sodas. They are all ghastly anyway. But if you feel/taste the difference, more power to you.

    • RC was big when I was a kid. There was a bottling facility just down the road from us. People who think we have free markets are fooling themselves.

      • I really miss the variety of regional sodas that used to be available. Especially in mid unairconditioned summer, from an ice cold refrigerated cooler, in a distinctive glass bottle with a crimped, cork-lined cap. For a nickel. That was living, kiddies.

        Bottling plants use local water and I’ve always heard that New York has the best tasting water in the country (can’t say I ever noticed, although some places are definitely substandard). Does this mean that sodas bottled in New York are “premium” sodas? Or would be if they used sucrose? (I really shouldn’t be giving them ideas)

        • That is what capitalism does. And it shows what a crock it is. There are many people doing more or less the same thing at the same time. And the big economic winners are the people who can consolidate all that work. In Thomas Frank’s new book he talks about how the vast majority of modern “innovation” is aimed at creating monopolies. He does a great take down of Uber. And as Dean Baker has written about extensively, Amazon never would have been able to take over the industry if it hadn’t been given a great big tax cut for most of its existence. Imagine if every independent bookseller had been given 10% of its gross each year by the government? I imagine that just about all those bookstores would still be in business.

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