Archive for the New Coke Category

Fizzy Failures: 12 Discontinued sodas

Posted in Coca Cola, Mountain Dew, New Coke, OK Soda, Pepsi, pop culture, soda with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2011 by Paxton

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A few years ago I wrote two articles for the Archie McPhee website Monkey Goggles. They also republished two other articles I wrote here (Glorious Glass and Origins of Our Favorite Toys).  It was a fun little site with quirky humor/pop culture articles and I was glad to contribute.  My buddy Shawn over at Branded in the 80s also wrote a few articles for the site.

Anyway, it seems that the Monkey Goggles website has stopped updating.  There haven’t been any new articles for the last year or so (since editor Geoff Carter left).  So, like Shawn, I decided to archive my articles here before they are swallowed by the Internet.  Today, you are looking at the first all-new article I wrote for the site.  It’s about failed soda.

The Cola Wars of the ’80s and ’90s really brought about a lot of competitive creativity between Pepsi and Coke (and to a lesser degree, 7-Up). They threw whatever soda flavor they could conceive of against the wall to see what would stick. Some worked (Cherry Coke, Mountain Dew Code Red), and some blew up in their faces like a novelty cigar (New Coke, Crystal Pepsi).

Instead of marveling at the thrills of victory, let’s wallow in the agony of their failures. Here’s a list of some of the most spectacular soda failures from the long history of the Cola Wars.

New Coke

New Coke – No list like this one is complete without mentioning the Godfather of all soda failures. Released in 1985, New Coke caused the collective soda-drinking world to lose its damn mind. Coke drinkers actually tried to levy a class action lawsuit against Coke for releasing the new formula. (Seriously.)

It was a fiasco. Coke was forced to bring back Coke Classic not three months after releasing New Coke. After the return of Classic Coke, New Coke was re-branded Coke II and then died a slow death in 1992. The “Classic” moniker still exists on the can to this day. (Read a more complete history of New Coke here).

Crystal Pepsi

Crystal Pepsi – Apparently Pepsi wanted in on all the hate mail and lawsuits Coke got for New Coke. So they decided that they too would try something new. In 1992, Crystal Pepsi was released with great fanfare, including a high-profile commercial during that year’s Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, Crystal Pepsi failed to live up to expectations. A clear cola that didn’t have a lemon-lime taste frightened and confused the soda-drinking public. It became more a novelty than a soda to be taken seriously. Many people don’t remember, though, that for its first year Crystal Pepsi sold well enough to grab an 11% market share (and caused Coke to release the next item on this list). After that banner year, however, the bottom dropped out and Crystal Pepsi’s sales plummeted.

As a last ditch effort, Pepsi reformulated Crystal Pepsi with a lemon-lime flavor and re-branded it as Crystal by Pepsi. Too little, too late.

TaB Clear
TaB Clear – Coke released this clear soda in 1992 after the strong first year sales of Crystal Pepsi. After the clear soda crash that same year, it was quickly discontinued.

OK Soda
OK Soda – In 1992, Coke decided to try something new and released this less carbonated, more fruity soda with anunconventional marketing campaign. Fliers, soda “manifestos” and “underground” phone numbers with voicemail were used to target the youth market. This tactic was definitely different, but it backfired as the targeted audience realized it was being marketed what executives at Coke believed to be an “edgy” soft drink. After poor sales, OK Soda was discontinued in 1993.

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New Coke turns 25 years old this month

Posted in 80s, Coca Cola, New Coke, pop culture, soda with tags , , , , on April 28, 2010 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

New Coke FAIL

Coca-Cola officially released New Coke on April 23, 1985. Which makes it 25 years old this month. Hard to believe that whole reformulating Coke debacle was over two decades ago. I was eleven years old.

Go back and read about the history of that troubled beverage in my 3 part retrospective on New Coke called Misunderstood.

Let’s take a look at some “New Coke” commercials.


This commercial was originally for regular Coke, but was changed after the release of New Coke. It features the slogan Coke Is It! I’ve always liked that jingle.


Bill Cosby was one of the big celebrities who helped launch New Coke. Here he is introducing the reformulated Coke in 1985.

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Cola Wars: Awesome Vintage Coke commercials

Posted in 80s, Coca Cola, New Coke, pop culture, soda with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Yesterday I was reminiscing about the Coke/Pepsi “Cola Wars” back in the ’80s and ’90s. I took a look back at a bunch of Pepsi’s most famous commercials from that era. If you missed it, I urge you to check it out.

Now, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin, Coca-Cola. They have come up with some pretty famous commercials of their own. Let’s take a look back in time at some of Coke’s most famous TV ads.


Coke’s 1971 Teach the World to Sing commercial (video above) is undoubtedly their most famous advertisement.  It is so famous that it received two official sequels.  First, during the 1971 holiday season, Coke released a Christmas version of the commercial that ended in darkness with all the candles the people were holding in the shape of a Christmas tree. Then, in 2005, Coke inexplicably allowed singer/songwriter G Love to create a horrible douchebag hipster alternative rock version called Teach the World to Chill.  Might have been a worse idea than New Coke.


If the “hilltop” commercial above isn’t Coke’s most famous, then this 1979 Mean Joe Greene commercial is.  It’s still today a fantastic commercial.  Of course, in 2009, Coke filmed a sequel to the Mean Joe Greene commercial with Troy Polamalu.


The 11:30 Diet Coke break from 1996 is another popular Coke commercial.  I remember it airing what felt like every 5 minutes.  And, wait, I’m shocked to say this, but, in 2007 Coke filmed a sequel to the 11:30 commercial.  Talk about milking a concept dry.  I wonder if any of Coke’s commercials haven’t had a sequel.

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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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