/\/oo\/\ Count Nibble /\/oo\/\ Presents Fear and Loathing in the Soft Drink Aisle: NEW COKE - An Investigative Report June 4th, 1985
Coca-Cola. We grew up with it, as did our parents and grandparents. But now, as you probably know, Coke has been changed. What was once the "Real Thing" is nothing more than a poor imitation Pepsi, with about as much taste appeal to the Coke loyalist as a glass of old mop-water. What drove Coca-Cola to this near-traitorous act? What has really been changed in the new Coke formula? And most important of all, how can YOU bring the taste, if not the substance, of Original Coca-Cola back into your daily life? Read on, gentle reader, read on . . .
"Why did they do it?"
- - Kim Richards, for Pepsi-Cola
Ever since Coke's announcement several weeks ago, the rumours have flown about why Coke decided to change the recipe. Suggestions have been made that Coke needed to do so in order to get out of several problematic contracts that applied only to the old formula, or that perhaps, through some horrible mistake the formula (according to legend, known only to two men who were never allowed to ride on the same airplane together) was lost altogether. One wag even said that the formula was never even changed, and that the public's perception of Coke's taste was altered through subliminal manipulation.
Well, I believe that the truth is a little more down-to-earth than any of those explanations. Contrary to popular belief, Coca-Cola is *not* the most popular soft drink in America. Most independent studies show that Pepsi-Cola is preferred by a significant margin, and indeed this is reflected in store sales. But, there is more Coke sold in America than Pepsi, so how can that be true? Well, more Coke is sold in America than Pepsi, but this is not because of store sales, but because of the phenomenal success of Coke's distributors.
Coke has major contracts with the biggest fast-food chains in the country. If you walk into a McDonalds and ask for Pepsi, you won't be able to get it. This is because Coke pays big money to chains (such as McDonalds) for carrying only Coca-Cola. Both Coke and Pepsi have many such contracts, but Coke has the central pillar of McD's. What this all boils down to is that Pepsi sells much better than Coke IN THE SUPERMARKETS AND CONVENIENCE STORES where people have their choice between the two. Apparently the executives at Coke were not pleased with this situation, and decided to make a move for a share of the Pepsi market – effectively abandoning all of us who liked the old Coke and HATED Pepsi.
There will probably be a fair amount of consumer backlash to the change. Some taste tests have indicated that new-formula Coke is /less/ popular than old Coke, rather than more, and if Coca-Cola's market share drops appreciably we may see a change back to the old formula. If not, we may see an underground market spring up for the old Coca-Cola. Like the main character in the first computer-generated comic book, SHATTER, we could become willing to pay $75,000 for a canister of old Coke syrup. The ultimate futuristic gourmet delicacy.
Making Your Own Original Coke
Now we come to the nitty-gritty of this file – how can you bring back the taste of Original Coca-Cola? Well, complaining to the Coke company is the easiest way to try to get back the taste we all loved, but given all the publicity generated by the changeover, a turnabout on the part of Coca-Cola is extremely unlikely. Drink something else. Many of the "store brands" of supermarket chains feature decent-tasting colas, and dark horse brands like Shasta and RC can hold their own. Become a Pepper for a while, and see how that works out. If you live in Massachusetts or Maine, stock up on some Moxie. Switch to Vernors or Canada Dry ginger ale. Do what comes naturally, but DON'T BUY COKE OR PEPSI! If you buy New Coke then they'll think you LIKE it (if you do, why are you reading this file?), and if you drink Pepsi, then you're probably secretly giggling about this whole mess anyway.
Unfortunately, none of that lets you drink the old Coke here and now. The first suggestion that will allow the taste of old Coke back into your life is to make it yourself. Impossible, you say? Not at all! Just time-consuming, but well worth a shot for the true Coke fanatic. I stole this recipe from the excellent and highly informative William Poundstone book BIG SECRETS. Try making it sometime!
The following recipe produces a gallon of syrup very similar to Coca-Cola's. Mix 2400 grams of sugar with just enough water to dissolve (high-fructose corn syrup may be substituted for half the sugar). Add 37 grams of caramel, 3.1 grams of caffeine, and 11 grams of phosphoric acid. Extract the cocaine from 1.1 grams of coca leaf (/Truxillo/ growth of coca preferred) with toluol; discard the cocaine extract [however you see fit! :-)]. Soak the coca leaves and kola nuts (both finely powdered; 0.37 gram of kola nuts) in 22 grams of 20 percent alcohol. California white wine fortified to 20 percent strength was used as the soaking solution circa 1909, but Coca-Cola may have switched to a simple alcohol/water mixture. After soaking, discard the coca and the kola and add the liquid to the syrup. Add 30 grams of lime juice (a former ingredient, evidently, that Coca-Cola now denies) or a substitute such as a water solution of citric acid and sodium citrate at lime-juice strength. Mix together 0.88 gram of lemon oil, 0.47 gram of orange oil, 0.27 gram of lime oil, 0.20 gram of cassia (Chinese cinnamon) oil, 0.07 gram of nutmeg oil, and if desired, traces of coriander, lavender, and neroli oils, and add to 4.9 grams of 95 percent alcohol. Shake. Add 2.7 grams of water to the alcohol/oil mixture and let stand for twenty-four hours at about 60 degrees F. A cloudy layer will separate. Take off the clear part of the liquid only and add to the syrup. Add 19 grams of glycerin (from vegetable sources, not hog fat, so the drink can be sold to Orthodox Jews and Moslems) and 1.5 grams of vanilla extract. Add water (treated with chlorine) to make 1 gallon of syrup.
Yield (used to flavor carbonated water): 128 6.5-ounce bottles.
Making Good With What You've Got: Old Coke From New
None of the above will help you rediscover the old taste of Coke if you find yourself at McDonalds or at a party featuring nothing but (ugh) New Coke. But there is a way, given to me by Rip, of making New Coke taste an awful lot like Old Coke. First we need to look at what exactly has changed in Coke.
In order to capture the Pepsi market, Coke had to do the obvious thing – make Coke taste like Pepsi. Pepsi has, as most people know, a blatantly sweet taste that is slightly reminscent of lemon. Old Coke, too, was sweet, but not as sweet as Pepsi. New Coke tastes a lot more like Pepsi by being – you guessed it – sweeter.
Now if you were running a large company like Coca-Cola and you had to change the formula for your product in dozens of plants all across the country, and you had to keep costs to a minimum, what would you do to change it? Add something? Not likely – if you added something, you would be buying whatever you added in great quantities, shipping it across the country, and generally spending money and cutting down on your profit margin. Substitute something? Well, that would change the taste, but you'd still have to buy that ingredient. No real savings there. How about taking something away? Of course! Remove something from the formula and you don't have to buy it anymore. It's simple, and it cuts down on costs – a Coke executive's wet dream. This is, I believe, essentially what Coke did to make the change from Original Coke to New Coke. And if you want to bring back the old taste, what do you have to do? Add to your drink whatever it was that they stopped putting in at the factory.
As it turns out, apparently what Coke cut down on was citrus oil. The addition of citrus oil (probably lime oil or orange oil) in the old formula masked a lot of the sweet taste of the drink. By removing they make Coke taste sweeter – more like Pepsi. But you can put it back! Get a glass of New Coke and simply squeeze in a drop of concentrated lemon, lime, or orange juice, and stir the mixture gently. Drink. Viola! OLD COKE! This actually works! When at a fast-food joint just ask for a wedge of lemon and squeeze it in, masking the sweet taste of New Coke and bringing The Real Thing back to life at your very own table (or booth, or large airplane depending on which McDonalds you're at). At a party go into the kitchen, get that lemon-shaped thing out of the fridge, and add a few drops to the Coke bottle. People will marvel at your ingenuity, sing your praises to the heavens, and you will be drinking COCA-COLA again!
I understand that Burger King plans to change the recipe on the Whopper soon.
/\/oo\/\ Count Nibble /\/oo\/\
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/\/oo\/\ File written by Count Nibble / A Southwest Pirates Guild Presentation