Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Coke

I still remember the uproar over the introduction of New Coke. As a Coca-Cola fan, I wasn't even remotely amused by the idea of replacing my favorite soft drink with some inferior version. It just didn't make any sense!

I was perusing the bulletin boards at the student union and saw a note urging everyone to complain about it by calling the Coca-Cola Company's toll-free number, so that's exactly what I did when I got home. I think it was the first time I ever actually called a company to complain, but I was mad! The customer service representative informed me that the new formula had done very well in taste tests. I didn't believe it. Who were the tasters, anyway?

In panic mode, I stocked up on 2-liter bottles, trying to space out the opening of each one. Once it was open, it would start going flat. I would have preferred to buy cans, since they would last longer, but with no car, the best I could do was buy a couple 2-liter bottles at a time and lug them back to my place. When I bought cans, it was one at a time from the many vending machines around campus, and I opened it right then and there.

I had a decent supply but didn't go overboard the way a lot of people did. I probably would have, but I was a student and couldn't afford that kind of extravagance.

Sure, I know now that it would have been healthier to just let it go and switch to water, but that wasn't going to happen. At the time, I wasn't amused, but I can admit now that it was better for me to cut down on them anyway. The problem is telling that to someone whose favorite product is about to go away.

I did try New Coke, and I didn't like it. I knew I'd be drinking more Dr Pepper and RC, two of my other favorites, if this stuff stuck around.

By the time the manufacturer admitted its mistake and brought back "Classic Coke," as they decided to call it, I still hadn't run out of my supply.

For the record, I do drink water most of the time now that I'm a lot older and a tiny bit wiser. Still, I remember fondly the days when it was rare to see me without a can of Coke in my hand or on my desk.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Simpler Times

I miss being able to buy food products without scrutinizing the label. I'm not talking about my more carefree days, when I didn't care as much about chemicals or trans fat in food. I'm talking about the manufacturing changes that have taken place over the years. Specifically, I miss the days when I could buy a regular, non-diet food or drink, and not have to check the ingredients for sucralose.

Sucralose was approved for use in the United States in 1998. Since then, it has become the most popular reduced-calorie sweetener, and I pretty much expect it to be in most diet products now. But what about the non-diet products? I've lost a lot of favorite products to this change. Unlike the use of aspartame, manufacturers don't even have to warn us that they're using sucralose; we just have to check the ingredients. All debates about the safety aside, I simply don't like the taste.

I don't drink as many soft drinks as I did in my younger days. Mostly, I drink water now, and when I indulge in a soft drink, it's somewhat of a treat. I was stunned recently to open a can of Shasta, take a drink, and realize that it tasted like a diet drink. What do you think I found on the ingredients list? Sucralose. It was down pretty far on the list, and high-fructose corn syrup was near the top (and yes, I'd much prefer sugar). I didn't even think to check for this before making the purchase; I just saw Shasta on sale at the store and thought it would taste pretty good--and bring back some memories. Well, it did bring back memories--of a time when it tasted so much better, and when trips to the store were much quicker and simpler because I didn't spend so much time checking lists of ingredients.