Archive for October, 2006

Misunderstood: The Saga of New Coke Part III

Posted in Coca Cola, food, New Coke, nostalgia, pop culture, soda with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2006 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Happy Monday, people! Before I present to you the final engrossing chapter of New Coke, I thought I’d pass along a fun little news article about fried Coke (pictured left). Apparently an enterprising man by the name of Abel Gonzales, Jr. created a recipe that uses Coca-Cola syrup mixed into a funnel cake batter that’s deep fried and served with syrup and cherries on top. Wow. Nice. My wife and I always talk about how, in the South, they fry everything, including the Iced Tea. Maybe we should amend that to Coke? A completely Southern idea, fried Coke brings us one step closer to this. Consider me in love.

Anywho, on to the matter at hand. If you missed Part I or Part II of this article just click the appropriate link. Otherwise continue reading and see the exciting conclusion to the New Coke story.

After the fallout from New Coke’s disastrous introduction, Coke had a big problem. How do they market two Cokes? Coke Classic didn’t need any marketing as the brand now sold itself, but what about New Coke? It could no longer use the slogan “The Best Just Got Better”, so, what to do? Coke decided to market New Coke to their lowest performing demographic, kids and teens. Ads for Coke included Max Headroom in fast talking commercials berating Pepsi for lack of originality. These ads did fairly well and were well recognized, but sales of New Coke couldn’t recover from the beating the drink got over the summer. The writing was on the wall for New Coke.

In 1992, New Coke was re-branded Coke II in hopes that it might refresh interest. It didn’t and by 2002, the drink was pretty much eliminated from all but the smallest markets. Supposedly, Coke II can still be found in stores and vending machines in smaller markets like Micronesia and American Samoa. Though New Coke is considered near dead, it will never truly die. CEO Goizueta still preferred New Coke so he continued to have it produced for his own consumption until right before his death. You only have to mention New Coke to somebody and they immediately know what you are talking about. It’s not just a drink anymore, New Coke refers to a mistake so disastrous, one may never recover. It’s part of the pop culture lexicon.

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Misunderstood: The Saga of New Coke Part II

Posted in Coca Cola, food, New Coke, nostalgia, pop culture, soda with tags , , , , , , on October 27, 2006 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Welcome to Part II of The Saga of New Coke. If you missed Part I, then just click here. When you are all caught up, then continue reading for the exciting second part of our story. Like last time, check out the classic soda commercials at the end of today’s installment.

On April 23, 1985 the Coca-Cola Company announced its intentions to introduce a brand new, reformulated Coca-Cola to the American public, dubbed Coke, and the systematic phasing out of the original formula. The new slogan was, “The Best Just Got Better”. What should have been a glorious day about Coke came up flat, so to speak. Coca-Cola CEO Robert Goizueta was ill-prepared for an event like Coke’s giant press conference and didn’t handle the media’s probing questions very well. When asked about New Coke’s flavor, he simply responded, “[It’s] smoother, uh, uh, yet, uh, rounder yet, uh, bolder … it has a more harmonious flavor.” In reality, the formula change made original Coke taste more like Pepsi, and made it a true full-calorie version of Diet Coke. Due to Goizueta’s lack of poise, all who attended that press release left with much doubt about the prospects of Coke’s new flavor, which, not surprisingly, would affect the news stories written about New Coke in its first 30 days.
That New Coke was a complete failure from day one is the common misconception. By and large, people really liked the new formulation and continued buying Coke in their usual amounts. Where the discourse began was in the Southeast, where Coke was originally formulated and sold back in the late 1800s. People were reacting to the fact that Coke was changed, not to the bad taste of New Coke. Most of the protestors didn’t even drink soda, much less Coke; they just didn’t like the idea of Coke changing something that apparently meant something to them. The interesting thing is, if Coke, before the change, would have meant enough to these people to buy it, then the company wouldn’t have changed the formula in the first place. It’s your classic Catch-22. Due to the extremely vocal minority, it became “chic” to bash New Coke. Protestors were so vocal about not liking New Coke that anyone who did like the new formula would be scared to say so. These “coke crazies” as I call them, formed a group called Old Cola Drinkers of America which lobbied The Coca Cola Company to reintroduce the original formula. They even tried to levy a class action lawsuit against Coke (wha-huh?!) but the case was thrown out by a judge (sometimes the legal system works). People continued to be so outraged at the new formula that they were trying to obtain cases of original Coca-Cola from overseas as New Coke had not been introduced over there yet. The Coca-Cola Company was at a loss for the huge debacle they had created for themselves.

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Misunderstood: The Saga of New Coke Part I

Posted in Coca Cola, food, New Coke, nostalgia, pop culture, soda with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2006 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

I love soda. I mean, I REALLY love soda. It’s almost an unnatural love…..a forbidden love, if you will. Due to this, I’ve been fascinated for years by the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi. My formative years were right in the middle of the ‘80s; the Vietnam of the cola wars. During the 1980s, Coke and Pepsi threw out more gimmicks than a used car salesman trying to hawk his wares during a “Sales Event”. It was a soda lovers’ nirvana (and I don’t mean the alternative rock band). One of the more infamous ploys of this period was the introduction of New Coke. Never has a company’s promotion and decision making been so thoroughly bitch-slapped by the American public. It was embarrassing, and, in my opinion, a complete over-reaction. In this three part article, we will look at the saga of New Coke, from inception all the way to the bloody aftermath and what Coke gained or lost by their gamble. I’ll even ponder if New Coke might actually still be on the shelves…but under a different name, and at the end of each article (including this one) I’ll provide links to classic Coke and Pepsi commercials. So punch 1983 into the flux capacitor and let’s get this bitch up to 88 miles an hour because our story starts, not with New Coke…………but Diet Coke.

1983 was a tough year for Coca-Cola. For decades, Coca-Cola had been the preferred soft drink in America, but market research had proven that consumers in the early ‘80s preferred sodas with a sweeter taste than traditional Coca-Cola. Most sodas at this time were using aspartame or a similar, cheaper sweetener to flavor their drinks while Coke continued to use cane sugar or another sweetener very similar to cane sugar. Also at the time, diet drinks were becoming extremely popular as more and more people were becoming aware of the high amount of calories found in Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks. Diet Pepsi was the current king of the low calorie, artificially sweetened soda. Years before, Coke released its own diet drink, TaB, but refused to market it as Coca-Cola because they did not want to dilute the Coca-Cola brand with more drinks, but, in essence, TaB was Diet Coke. No matter what Coke did, though, they continued to lose market share to Pepsi and they decided something had to be done about it.

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Coffee Flavored Soda: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Posted in Coca Cola, coffee, food, reviews, soda with tags , , , , on October 18, 2006 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

The apocalypse, the end of the world. You might think this is foretold by simple things like locusts, oceans flowing red like blood and the sky turning black as a death shroud. I have a different, yet all the more deadly and horrific sign: coffee flavored soda. I am aghast at the mere mention of this unholy union, but being the purveyor of pop culture that I am, I have to try it. There are really only two I care about right now, and they are Coca-Cola Blak by Coke and Pepsi Cappuccino by, of course, Pepsi. Other smaller companies make a version of this deadly brew, but I am only going to try Coke and Pepsi’s offerings because that is my prerogative and I don’t actually think I have the testicular fortitude to try more than 2 bottles of this Death Juice (i.e. coffee flavored soda).

Before I get to the reviews, you should know that I LOVE soda. Love, love, LOVE it. Also, I HATE coffee. I hate the smell, I hate the taste. I hate coffee ice cream. This should be interesting.

I work for the corporate office of Winn-Dixie and they recently threw us an employee barbeque. Coca-Cola catered the drink portion of this event. They were giving away Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Coke Blak. Recently, Coke has been giving away bottles of this stuff all over the place trying to get people to taste it, but it has yet to really catch on. I have a guess why, but I’ll taste it first before I make any snap judgments.

I took my first sip, and after gagging and coughing for 10 minutes I thought that God hated me and that’s why he created this drink. Then, being the connoisseur of cola that I am, I had to try to finish the bottle. During the torture session of finishing this bottle, I can only think of my cousin Mike as he recently tried to finish a tiny can of low sodium V8 juice. My face puckered, my fingers closing my nose and a look of absolute disgust on my face I soldiered on and had two more sips before nearly puking up my kidney and half my lung. Awful, nasty stuff. I asked a coffee drinker what he thought. He said, at first, the coffe/cola flavor is nice, but after multiple sips the taste somewhat sours in your mouth and you realize that your taste buds were pulling the long con on your brain.

Final Verdict: If you value your life and your sanity, stay away from this hateful, hateful drink.

You are probably not going to be able to find my second drink, Pepsi Cappuccino, in your local 7-11. This is really only marketed/sold in Europe and Russia. I was able to procure this can through much barting with overseas contacts. You don’t want to know what it took to get it, but let me just say this, it involved 3 goats, a marriage proposal and a pair of Levis button-fly 501 jeans with the ass cheeks cut out. Oh yes, I just said that.

I haven’t actually opened the can, so I’m doing it for the first time right now. After 2 rounds with the devil’s urine above, I can only imagine what lies in wait in this can of Pepsi Cappuccino. The verdict is….hey, this isn’t too bad. The hell? The taste is mostly Pepsi, but there is a subtle hint of chocolate. Now, since I hate coffee, I don’t really know the difference between a cappuccino, an espresso or a latte. I would be interested in trying a cappuccino after trying this. I like that Pepsi doesn’t hit you over the head with the coffee flavor. It’s subtle. It’s sexy. I like it. Holy crap. This article isn’t ending the way I planned. This is a most unexpected development. Hooray for Pepsi! This is why I prefer Pepsi products over Coke.

One thing I will mention, Pepsi makes other coffee colas called Pepsi Kona (which was discontinued) and Pepsi Tarik. I’m not sure if both of these are the same thing and just named differently in different markets, but the logos are similar. I am still trying to procure one of these. It may be that Pepsi Tarik/Kona is actually closer to Coke Blak than Pepsi Cappuccino. When I get a can, I’ll let you know.

So what have we learned? We have learned that Pepsi Cappuccino is actually a pretty tasty drink. We have also learned that if Coke Blak were a person, I’m pretty sure he’d beat his kids and cheat on his wife and maybe even drink Coke Blak. Maybe they should rename it “New Coke” because I think this drink is headed in the same direction as that fateful drink in 1985, directly for the pop culture trash bin.

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War Games 2 and other movie sequels

Posted in humor, movies, personal, reviews, sequels, War Games with tags , , , on October 9, 2006 by Paxton

I was perusing what the youngsters like to call “the net” the other day and came across this article on one of my favorite movie news sites. According to the article, Hollywood is apparently making a War Games 2. This got me thinking about movie sequels, good and bad, and what I think about them. I’m pretty sure you’re going to be interested in what I have to say, otherwise you’d be doing laundry or washing your car right now, so I thought I’d pass along some “nuggets” from my own noggin about movie sequels. Write them down, grasshopper, cause these nuggets are gold, I tell ya, GOLD.

First off, I am not patently against sequels. I don’t automatically think they are going to be awful. Being a movie whore gives me the wonderful freedom of thinking movies that should suck, are going to be awesome. It’s liberating. If I enjoyed the first movie and some or most of the original cast returns, then I’m willing to give it a try. But what sounds like a good idea on paper, may turn out to be box office poison. In light of this, let’s look at some of the factors that, I believe, will immediately count against the success of a sequel.

One type of sequel that I will immediately hate is the “in name only” sequels. You know the ones, more often than not they didn’t have a theatrical release. You see them sitting in Blockbuster and you’re like, “HOLY CRAP, THEY MADE A SEQUEL TO BAMBI?!” (yes they did). If these eyesores were released in theaters, there would be chaos in the streets, it would be the Kent State riots all over again. I ask you, how is the movie a sequel when not one person from the original movie appears? Even worse is when one of the characters in the sequel is the son/daughter/uncle/cousin of one of the characters in the original to make up for the fact that the studio was too much of a Scrooge to pay for the original actors. That’s the definition of cheap, people.

Let’s talk a bit about the aforementioned War Games: The Dead Game. First off, the title. They use the original title, but instead of putting a giant 2 in it, they give it some generic ominous sounding subtitle. You aren’t fooling me, MGM. Also, the odds are against Matthew Broderick coming back for this. Likewise for Ally Sheedy (is she still alive?) and Dabney Coleman. It’ll be all new people we’ve never heard of who look like they should be in a WB hour long drama doing something vaguely similar to the events in the first movie. Why even call it War Games, why not just The Dead Game? I’ll tell you why; to get people who wouldn’t normally go see a movie filled with nobodies to go see it. Even if Broderick gives a small cameo at some point (which would help), this is just lazy. War Games 2, to me, is Matthew Broderick as David Lightman, grown up, working for a software development company and he uncovers a plot by his company/the government/some random shmuck to take over the company/stock market/country/world. THAT is War Games 2. MGM, call me when it’s in the can.

Another example you ask? Of course, I answer. How about Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights? Another omission of the giant 2 and the addition of a sultry subtitle. In reality, this movie should have been called just…Havana Nights. There was absolutely NO need to tack on Dirty Dancing to the beginning except for the simple fact that no one would have seen it. Yes, I realize Patrick Swayze himself had a small part, but, come on, they didn’t even call him Johnny (his character in the original). He was credited as DANCE INSTRUCTOR. WTF?! WHY?! He’s in the movie, he has several scenes with the main characters, why couldn’t SOMEBODY call him Johnny?! ONCE?! Drove me up the wall. The movie wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t that great either. I kinda feel the same way about the original, too (Sorry, Steph). Moving on….

So you see what I mean about the “in name only” sequels. 9.9 times out of 10, they are going be a huge pile of dog ass. Let’s move on to another factor that will most definitely sink a sequel; recasting the main actors. I hate it when a sequel is announced and one of your favorite characters is recast. I would actually prefer the character is dropped than have another actor brought in. What usually winds up happening is the original actor left such an impression that the newer upstart is overshadowed, leaving you feeling like he’s just copying the original performance. One of the better examples of this is Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. While this movie could have stood on it’s own as a dumb high school comedy (maybe), the studio instead forces the actors to ape the characteristics of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Parts of this movie made me laugh, but parts were cringe-inducing. Another example is Major League 2. I really enjoyed all three of the Major League movies, but one of the main characters, Willie Mays Hayes, is recast. Originally played by Wesley Snipes, in part 2 Hayes is played by Omar Epps. Epps did a nice job, but he’s not Wesley Snipes. While Major League 2 did have a few other issues, this was one of the big ones (the original and Part 3 are the best of the trilogy). The last glaring example of recasting I’ll bring to your attention is The Sting II. The original, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, was a classic heist movie that helped launch Newman and Redford even further into superstardom. The sequel, using the same characters but different actors, barely deserves to be mentioned. The studio did get Jackie Gleason to take over the Paul Newman role, but, despite that, continue on your merry way.

These are just a few of the examples. How many other crappy sequels are out there? Did anyone see Starship Troopers 2? Son of the Mask? How about Hollow Man 2? American Psycho 2? What about the 15 or so “sequels” Disney churns out every year? Did the public at large really need 3 sequels to the Lion King? I mean really. There are tons of other titles that litter the Blockbuster shelves like a giant landfill. To be sure, sequels can be bad. Very bad. Like, genitals wired to a car battery bad, but they can be good, too. If not for sequels we wouldn’t have Empire Strikes Back, Back to the Future II, Clerks II and Godfather Part II. But, then again, no sequels means no Godfather III, so it’s a double edged sword.

Personally, I like the idea of sequels because I love revisiting the characters I’ve grown to love in a movie. If you entertained me once, I’ll give a second movie a chance, but I’m prepared to be burned. Gigli 2, anyone?

Fun movie links:

1. Trailer for The Sting II

2. Trailer for Dumb & Dumber re-edited to look more like a drama

3. Hilarious MTV Parody of Star Wars Episode III starring Jimmy Fallon