Archive for the New Coke Category

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


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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