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In April 1985, it is rumored that a collection of executives gathered at their corporate headquarters for an emergency meeting. On the table before them sat six small canisters which had been smuggled from their chief competitor’s manufacturing plant. Inside the metal cylinders lurked a secret compound which represented the next strike in a long-running war: an altered version of their rival’s incredibly successful Merchandise 7X. The substance was scheduled to be released upon the public within mere days, and these men had assembled to assess the threat. They were aware that billions of dollars were at stake, but the true power of the revised chemistry was beyond their reckoning. Ultimately, the contents of these canisters would plunge the United States into a surreal turmoil the likes of which had never before been seen.
The 72 ounces of fluid were portioned into sampling containers and passed around the room with earnest resolve. Each man inspected his sample by ingesting it orally, then smacking his tongue to allow the solution full access to his taste buds. The men’s impressions were mixed, yet the Pepsi officials were forced to acknowledge that this “New Coke” represented a serious threat.
Today, the New Coke debacle of 1985 is usually looked upon as a blunder of monumental proportions; however the ill-fated reformulation ultimately became one of the most fortuitous and informative failures in human history.
The story of Coca-Cola’s infamous reformulation began some ten years earlier, in 1975. Pepsi’s plucky marketing department began erecting Pepsi Challenge booths in shopping centers around the United States, and passers-by were presented with two shrouded cola cans. Each participant was invited to sample each unmarked soda and indicate his or her preference. Although the statistics varied by region, tasters generally pointed to Pepsi about 12% more often. Coca-Cola dismissed these tests as unscientific claptrap, yet when they reproduced the experiment internally they obtained the same distressing results.
Owing to the effectiveness of the Pepsi Challenge, Coke’s domination dwindled in the $25-billion-per-year soft drink industry. By 1983 the clash of the cola colossuses had cost millions in marketing, as well as the lives of two cola-war soldiers in Thailand. Despite outspending Pepsi by almost $100 million annually, Coke’s market share fell from 60% to 22%. As the gap closed, Pepsi braced for drastic action from its archrival, but none anticipated that Coca-Cola would be rash enough to abandon its century-old, $5.5-billion-per-year cola recipe—one of history’s most profitable products.
Sometime in late 1984 or early 1985, Coca-Cola’s CEO Roberto Goizueta called his minions into action. He initiated Project Kansas, a clandestine operation to undermine his cola-war adversaries. Chemists working in Coca-Cola’s laboratory were commanded to reconfigure the mysterious Merchandise 7X, a secret cocktail of coca leaf extract, kola nut extract, vanilla, citrus oils, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and other seasonings. The company also chose to completely abandon conventional sugar in favor of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an easy-to-handle but unnatural alternative which would give the mutant Cokes a much longer shelf life. The use of HFCS also reduced production costs, since corn products are artificially cheap in the US due to farm subsidies, while sugar is disproportionately pricey owing to import tariffs.
Once the company chemists delivered the atypical Cokes, a series of secret human experiments were undertaken. The abnormal formulas were inflicted upon focus groups, and although most variations were met with indifference, one sweeter formulation showed some promise. In blind taste tests, it was favored about 8% more often than Pepsi, and about 20% more than original-recipe Coke. When participants were asked whether they would drink Coca-Cola if it were modified to use this new formula, most responded positively. However about 11% of the samplers—even some who preferred the new flavor in the blind tests—were hostile to the idea. They were astonished that the soft-drink juggernaut would have the audacity to tinker with the American-as-bald-eagle-pie beverage. This indignation was so potent that it exerted indirect peer pressure within the focus groups, thereby contaminating the results; but Coke experimenters were quick to detect and correct the effect.
After $4 million in research and almost 200,000 consumer interviews, CEO Roberto Goizueta was convinced that Merchandise 7X-100 was the formula they had been searching for. Upon his order, the reformulation was afoot. “The New Taste of Coca-Cola” was scheduled to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting citizens of the world on 23 April 1985. On the eve of that fateful announcement, Coca-Cola officials met with their bottlers in a private gathering. They disclosed their intent to make the first major change to the Coke formula since cocaine was eliminated by switching to “spent” coca leaves in 1903. “Now we’re back in the ballgame,” Goizueta proclaimed, stirring his audience into a heartfelt standing ovation. Little did they know that Pepsi officials were privy to their plans, and already orchestrating a counterattack.
The next day, Roberto Goizueta and Coca-Cola president Donald Keough sat before a large gathering of reporters alongside the redesigned Coke cans. As the photographers’ reflex lenses snapped their mechanical kisses, the executives announced that the “Real Thing” was now even… realer. Unbeknownst to Goizueta and Keough, informants from Pepsi had tipped off certain members of the press and equipped them with armor-piercing questions. Other reporters had learned of the news by reading the morning New York Times, where a full-page Pepsi ad declared victory in the cola wars. The barrage of antagonizing questions left Goizueta flustered, as was evident when he was asked to describe the New Coke taste. He responded, “I would say it’s smoother, uh, uh, yet, uh, rounder yet, uh, bolder.” According to some reports, beads of water formed on his forehead and rolled down his cheeks, indicating either anxiety, or a capacity to quench even the most powerful thirst. When another reporter asked whether Diet Coke would be reformulated if New Coke was a success, he testily replied, “This is a success.”
At first, Goizueta’s surly synopsis proved accurate. The company’s stock went up upon the announcement, and sales improved by 8% in the first few weeks. Surveys indicated that an impressive 75% of consumers were happy with New Coke, and would buy it again. Pepsi chemists hastily assembled their own new-and-improved product dubbed Pepsi Supreme, and company executives kept an anxious finger poised over the “release” button. If New Coke encroached too drastically into Pepsi’s sales, this option of mutually assured destruction would remain as a last resort.
On television, Bill Cosby informed audiences that “The incredible has happened, the impossible has become a reality… Coke actually tastes better than ever before!” Within a few weeks, however, unpleasant sentiments began to ooze from the unpredictable public. There was a segment of the population—about 11%, strangely enough—who disliked New Coke with such enthusiasm that their complaints and harsh editorials began to disintegrate public approval. New Coke became a vehicle for large-scale informational conformity, the human tendency to unconsciously adjust one’s opinions to correlate with the outspoken views of the social group.
(Informational conformity was first formally documented by Dr Muzafer Sherif in 1935, when he placed a group of subjects in a dark room with a single point of light in the distance. He asked them to estimate how much the light moved around, and although each person perceived a different amount of movement, most of them relinquished their own estimates to conform to the predominant guesses within the group. In reality, the light had not been moving at all; it only appeared to move because of the autokinetic effect, a quirk in visual perception where a bright point of light in complete darkness will appear to wander. It is thought that this imagined movement occurs due to the lack of a fixed visual reference point, and it may be the cause of many nighttime UFO sightings.)
Original Coke soon vanished from stores as the scarce resource was stockpiled by entrepreneurs and desperate consumers. The Coca-Cola corporate offices became a delta of animosity at the mouth of a river of angry phone calls and letters. One distressed customer said, “There are only two things in my life: God and Coca-Cola. Now you have taken one of those things away from me.” In a fit of misplaced patriotism, some even likened the alteration of Coke to spitting on the flag. Baffled company officials hired a psychologist to listen to the customer complaints, and he pointed out that many of the customers spoke as one does when discussing a deceased relative.
When ads for New Coke appeared on the scoreboard at the Houston Astrodome, spectators suspended their bellows of enthusiasm to issue bellows of disapproval. Even Cuban president Fidel Castro decried the revisions to his favorite soft drink, citing it as yet another example of capitalist decadence. In an oft-told and possibly apocryphal anecdote, a woman in Georgia assaulted a Coca-Cola delivery man while he stocked a grocery shelf with New Coke. “You bastard!” she screamed while bludgeoning him with an umbrella, “you ruined it—it tastes like shit!”
The national frenzy reached a bizarre crescendo when a man named Gay Mullins, founder of the Old Cola Drinkers of America, attempted to file a lawsuit to force the Coca-Cola company to restore the 99-year-old original flavor. Federal District Judge Walter McGovern rejected the lawsuit, taking the trouble to point out that he preferred Pepsi.
On 11 July 1985, news reporter Peter Jennings interrupted General Hospital for a special news bulletin: After a mere 79 day furlough, the original-recipe Coke was back on the market as “Coca-Cola Classic.” Virtually every major newspaper in the United States carried the announcement on their front page, and on the floor of the US Senate, David Pryor observed the event as “a meaningful moment in US history.” In spite of their embarrassment, Coke was quick to claim credit as part of the “fabric of America,” stating that their cola’s value was as immeasurable as “love, pride, or patriotism.” However the large-scale turmoil revealed more about human nature than it did about brown sugar-water.
In retrospect, some marketers believe that the failure of New Coke may have had something to do with sensation transference, a human oddity first described by Louis Cheskin in the 1940s. Cheskin demonstrated that people will unconsciously associate imagery, sounds, tastes, aromas, and textures into their general impression of a product, even if such associations are unintended or inaccurate. These sensory inputs create a halo effect which actually modifies flavor perception, so while cola drinkers may have preferred the new Coke formula, they may have disliked the “taste” of the redesigned packaging. Even Gay Mullins—the man who tried to sue to restore the old flavor—showed a preference for New Coke when subjected to blind taste tests. If Coca-Cola had changed their recipe but retained the familiar branding, New Coke and its taste-test-winning flavor might have been more acceptable to our primitive brains. Sensation transference was also powerfully demonstrated in a 2007 experiment, in which preschoolers were given McDonald’s menu items in both branded and plain wrappers. Although the foods were identical aside from their wrappings, the children said they preferred the taste of the McDonald’s-branded burgers, carrots, and apple juice in the vast majority of tests.
The advertising and consumer research industries gleaned some vital lessons from Coca-Cola’s high-profile failure, particularly with respect to social conformity in marketing. The 11% segment of alienated consumers proved to be a formidable force in shaping the public’s perception, an effect which Coke had observed but ignored in its focus groups. Marketing professionals also noted that New Coke’s success in taste tests may have been due to the small servings offered to tasters. In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell points out that such “sip tests” could produce a systemic bias towards sweeter drinks, since small samples would prevent the drinker from reaching the sickly-sweet threshold.
Regardless of people’s reasons for rejecting New Coke, Pepsi capitalized on the fiasco by mocking Coke’s waffling. Coca-Cola executives looked on helplessly as Pepsi’s sales surpassed those of Coke, giving Pepsi a comfortable lead in the beverage business. But then the incredible happened, and the impossible became a reality: over several months the restoration of the original recipe completely reversed the river of loathing, and the public engaged in a wholesale love-fest for Coca-Cola. They re-embraced the beverage they had taken for granted, and by the end of the year Coke Classic sales were outpacing Pepsi by a considerable margin.
Coca-Cola then became, and has since remained, the most profitable soft drink in the world. The “marketing blunder of the century” was so successful, in fact, that some people are convinced that New Coke Was an Inside Job—a delicately engineered gambit to revitalize the brand. As Coca-Cola president Donald Keough put it, “Some critics will say Coca-Cola made a marketing mistake. Some cynics will say we planned the whole thing. The truth is we are not that dumb and we are not that smart.” Coca-Cola truthers have also suggested that New Coke was a disposable facade intended to mask the transition from sugar to HFCS. While it is true that the reborn Coca-Cola Classic used HFCS as the exclusive sweetener, many US Coke bottlers had made the switch several years prior to the New Coke announcement.
Because the multi-million-dollar New Coke catastrophe was ultimately a financial success, no one at Coke was fired over the debacle. A disgruntled Cosby, however, ended his relationship with Coca-Cola. He complained that his pro-New-Coke commercials had damaged his credibility, and he retreated to the relative safety of pudding. New Coke gradually faded into obscurity, reappearing briefly in the early 1990s as “Coke II.” With the final collapse of the New Coke regime, a number of cans of the troublesome liquid are still unaccounted for. According to sketchy reports, it can still be found in a handful of smaller countries, including the island of Yap in Micronesia, and the Samoan islands.
Roberto Goizueta never expressed any regret regarding the reformulation; in fact, people who were close to him say that he arranged for the local Coca-Cola supplier to keep a cache of Coke II on hand at all times. He drank his smoother, rounder, and bolder New Coke until the day he died in 1997, insisting all the while that the fruit of his brain-loins was the best-tasting cola in history, no matter what the fickle consumers may say.
Note: This article was originally entitled “Bite the New Wax Tadpole,” but a number of readers pointed out that this was excessively obscure and/or lame.
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Yet another excellent article
So the current Coke uses “spent” coca leaves, how does one produce a “spent” Coca leaf?
If ever threatened again, I will remember to always retreat to “the relative safety of pudding”. Man, that’s funny…
What an incredible article. Thanks. I lived through “The Cola Troubles”. Those were some dark days indeed. j/k.. I’m a Pepsi fan myself.
When a mommy coca leaf and a daddy coca leaf love each other very much…
Actually, this is a good question. My guess is that they process it in some fashion to remove the cocaine. Perhaps the Coke company and several South American Businessmen work together very well?
I remember these days with humor. It still amazes me that something so trivial can dominate the public debate, even to this day.
what about the 2 cola war lives that were lost? explain that one
I remember this. My dad only drank Coke and when this came out I remember him saying how awful it was, not too long after I remember the original Coke being re-released as Coke Classic. I think the only other major cola debacle was this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Pepsi
I don’t know the specifics of how it’s removed for cola production, but if you want to get out the cocaine for non-cola stimulant purposes, you macerate the coca leaves in an organic solvent (kerosene, typically). The solvent extracts the cocaine base from the leaves, which can then be filtered out. You take the organic solvent and put it through a series of acid and base washes to precipitate out the cocaine base.
[Not that I’ve done this myself. I used to be a forensic drug analyst; during a training session, I saw a DEA video on the process, as filmed by an agent in Columbia.]
The Stepan Company plant in Maywood, New Jersey is licensed to import coca leaves and extract the cocaine. They sell the cocaine to pharmaceutical companies and the spent leaves to Coca-Cola. It’s the only company in the US so licensed.
Fascinating revelations about what was (or was not?) a major slip-up. (I feel that the sweeter formulation was not true to the tradition of Coke; if one wanted a sweeter cola, one would drink Pepsi. I suspect that Coke was trying to out-Pepsi Pepsi, while hoping that their “fan base” would not mind too much.)
[nitpick mode]This phrasing is common but, alas, incorrect. “Crescendo” is the Italian word for “growing” or “increasing”. (The same concept is seen in “crescent moon”—when the amount of visible surface of the Moon is increasing. [The technical counterpart term for a waning Moon is “descrescent”.])
So, one cannot reach a crescendo, since it is not an endpoint. One can, however, reach a climax (peak, maximum, etc.).
Best article in a few months. This completely obliterated the old-article-anger that had began to boil in my loins these past weeks.
And the resulting cocaine is very occasionally used in oral and nasal surgery (it’s both an anesthetic and vasoconstrictor). I hear that it’s legally available in Australia for pain relief from oral ulcers.
This begs the question, “Where can I get Coke made with real sugar?” I know it’s available in the Caribbean and in Mexico. You would think there would be some demand in the US, even if it cost a little more. A couple years ago I emailed Coca Cola with this request. Their reply was evasive.
Try Costco … they often stock Mexican Coke with real sugar. Lacking that, isn’t most of the US littered with Mexican markets now? Such markets oft have a supply.
Many grocery stores will carry real-sugar Coke during Passover, as the HFCS version isn’t Kosher. Look for the yellow caps.
Top 20! Sweet! I would really like to taste the Coke II or the New Coca Cola…although the letter about 2 things in my life, Coca Cola and God, that was probably my uncle, he lives for Coca-Cola!!
new coke and scotch…
it just wasn’t the same.
Damn Interesting article. Coke for life!!! :-D
This is the best and most informative article on the new Coke I’ve ever read! Damn interesting about the taste tests, and the bias problems. I used to be a marketing major and I know how seriously companies take this stuff.
So, they did it to cut sugar costs, eh? All because of unfair economic protectionist policies. I HATE subsidies and tariffs, and corn is the worst. We’re up to $290 BILLION in subsidies now. What pisses me off is that this makes farms less competitive, and it amounts to handouts that favor the rich farmers the most. Some of those handouts are kicked back to politicians in the form of campaign contributions. Fucking graft. When will Americans take a stand against all this waste and unfair distortion of food economies driving poor people into malnourishment? Food prices are rising all over the world now, and subsidies and tariffs in rich countries are to blame. Free trade IS fair trade you protectionist douchebags.
Then there’s the tariffs that cockblock those poor destitute sugar farmers in Latin American 3rd word countries who can’t compete with greedy inefficient American sugar farmers. And it raises the price of sugar for American consumers. Sorry about the rant, but I really care about this.
Corn and corn byproducts are absolutely taking over the American diet. Corn is the crop of evil.
Crystal Pepsi – now that was a disaster in the cola wars.
Heh… And all this time I though I was some sort of weirdo for liking New Coke better than Old Coke. For those that never got a chance to taste it, it really did taste better.
Regarding the title of the article, “Bite the Wax Tadpole” comes from a mostly apocryphal tale of a mistranslation of “Coca-Cola” into Chinese. For more see this Snopes article.
Silverhill, “crescendo” has more than one meaning, and it can also mean “the climactic point or moment in such an increase; peak: The authorities finally took action when public outrage reached a crescendo.” As such, Alan used the word properly.
It just goes to show that if you take something away from somone, they want it back, and they’re willing to kick and scream till they get it. Pepsi tastes terrible, and although I drink Coke, I don’t drink as much of it now that it’s full of HFCS. Wasn’t there an article about HFCS? It’s very bad for you and probably the cause of the increaing obesity and diabeties problem in the ‘sugar water drinking countries’
drewd #15 – Really? Please tell me where i can get it then, cos they don’t stock it at safeway, coles or iga! and the pharmacists certainly aren’t handing it out… Maybe a plague of koalas broke in and stole their stockpiles ;-)
Oops – a few spalling mystakes thier in that last post – plese dont make me hanged
Fascinating, the New Coke thing didn’t really affect me in England, but then, I don’t like Cola at all really, so it may have been there.
I’d really love more info on this statement…
“…lives of two cola-war soldiers in Thailand…”
cola-war? What the hell? Sounds like something out of the “Third World War” comic…
Also, liked learning about “informational conformity” and “sensation transference” and I plan to use “as American as bald-eagle-pie” at the first opportunity.
id like to try some new coke, that is now old, hmmm.
I am willing to accept the concept that language belongs to users, but the usage of the word crescendo is the product of an earlier distortion which later sedimented into the language. I’d thus say that it is acceptable, althought not very semantically “clean”.
As for the whole Coke-Pepsi war, it’s a false problem. There is only one thing worth mixing with rhum, and that is Pepsi.
I thought the article was great, but the headline and leading image were confusing. In fact, I passed over the article the first time because the title made no sense and the image didn’t look interesting. Had it not been exposed in the comments, I never would have understood what it meant.
I can’t imagine the amount of research that must go into writing such an informative article. It’s funny that so many of us considered New Coke an epic failure. Somebody just needed to shed a little light on the subject.
Pelli – I disagree strongly. The only thing worth mixing with rum (good rum) is more rum! I tried some barrel aged Havana Club a while back at a friends place, and frankly, mixing that with anything is crime!
I often wonder about the taste and effects of the the older, active-coca era Coke. I’d be surprised if it actualy represented a real health threat, any more than coffee or any of the gazillions of energy drinks on the market today.
Once I tried mixing New Coke and Old Coke. The result tasted almost exactly like Pepsi.
I think there is some truth to the possibility of the “sip tests” skewing the results — a whole can of the stuff was a little much, while a shot was quite palatable.
Besides the HFCS changing the experience vs. sugar, another thing you don’t see anymore (except in Mexican markets and the like) is Coke in glass bottles. There is something about a cold Coke from a glass bottle that hit a spot that the modern concoction decanted out of plastic doesn’t quite reach.
Has anyone tried Coke Zero? (The drink for men who want to diet, but are too manly to drink Diet Coke).To me, that tastes almost exactly like Pepsi. Maybe that’s what happened to the stocks of ‘New’ Coke – it’s been rebranded Coke Zero.
Glad to see that Alan has returned and, even better, with an article about an event that I remember well. It was one of the most hilarious times in business that I have ever seen; there’s nothing like watching highly paid executives all soil their trousers at the same time. Of course, it helped that I owned no stock in Coca-Cola then.
“informational conformity”: Mark Twain wrote about this aspect of the human brain in his satirical short article “Corn-Pone Opinions.”
I think that Twain and “informational conformity” help to explain the popularity of Limbaugh and the other far-right radio programs, along with the death of liberalism and the resurrection of the Republican Party.
Of course, Orwell in “1984” and Huxley in “Brave New World” take the concept to even more frightening — and perhaps all the more real — heights.
I wonder…. Does anyone still think about whether or not his thoughts are actually his own or if they are the product of repeated exposure to the thoughts of a particular group?
Is it even possible for anyone to be truly a “free thinker”? If I remember correctly, George Bernard Shaw didn’t think so.
Great article Alan.
Fascinating indeed. Man I just love wax!
Couldn’t agree more. I really dont give a damn what i drink. I’m not much of a cola drinker anyway, but i must say i’m really surprised that something as simple as a beverage can really be the reason for all kinds of flame-wars, let alone be a reason to interrupt a television show.
I’ve been in candada and the US once, and me and my brothers made it a sport to order pepsi wherever they serverd coca-cola and vice versa (same for 7up/sprite). Each and every time, we were asked if the brand they served was fine too. Yes, of course it’s fine… It’s pretty much the same thing anyway.
Here in the Netherlands, you just order cola and get whatever they serve, and nobody I know gives a damn which brand you actually get.
I can’t really say i understand the 11% that actively protested against this New Coke if they actually liked the New Coke better in blind tests. Sure, some familiarity with your favourite product is fine, but is it really that bad if your favourite product changes the package as well? But then again, i might just as well ‘suffer’ from this sensation transference, but just don’t really realise it. However, i’ve never been much of a trend-follower either.
Damn interesting article, indeed, but the author completely disregards the role of Max Headroom in marketing New Coke after Coca-Cola Classic was put on the market.
Max Headroom ruled.
My preference has always been Royal Crown Cola. I read several years ago that the Pepsi people did their taste test under sip test conditions because they knew that their sweeter product did better under that condition. When consumers were asked to drink a whole can of each, the preference was shifted back to the approximate distribution of the market. I do not know why the pros at Coke did not know that – or if that is part of the story that no one has told.
Heh! Started reading it and thought it was some top secret military project to bomb a place with chemical weapons :)
Pepsi and Coke never suited my taste though. Pure water is a lot better than beverages pumped with advertising and social misconception.
Simple, you pick up the spit when the user is finished chewing his leaves. South America is crawling with spitcollectors.
“Rarely, though, has the Coke-Pepsi rivalry gone so far as in Thailand, where it has now led to two deaths (source: .
Both Pepsi and Coke have campaigned vigorously for the Thai market. Tropical thirsts have driven consumption of soft drinks there up to a strong 50 to 60 bottles per person per year, despite an annual per capita income of only $350. Although Coke’s overall sales, including those of Sprite and Fanta, top Pepsi’s total market share 46% to 34%, Coke alone has long trailed Pepsi by a wide margin.
In recent years, Coke had begun closing the gap, but the Thai government hurt the company’s sales a year ago when it raised the excise tax on soft drinks by more than 100%. That made Coke and Pepsi raise their prices from a dime to 15¢ a bottle. Thai peasants, who leaned toward Pepsi but occasionally bought both drinks, were forced by the higher prices to cut their consumption and choose one or the other. More often than not, they chose Pepsi.
Coke salesmen became increasingly nervous. One of them, identified only as Tin, spotted Pepsi Salesman Thongyu Meksuk putting up Pepsi posters in a small open-air restaurant on the outskirts of Khampaeng Phet, about 200 miles northwest of Bangkok. Such point-of-purchase advertising is important in Thailand, since about 96% of soft drinks are consumed where they are bought. Coke and Pepsi have long squabbled over prime space in cafés and other public places.
An angry Tin began tearing down his rival’s posters. Enraged, Thongyu shouted at Tin. The two men then agreed to settle the matter with a fistfight and departed in clattering bottle trucks for a field near by. On the way, though, Tin pulled his truck alongside Thongyu’s and, according to witnesses, blasted him with a shotgun. Thongyu was left dead at his wheel; Tin disappeared.
This was not the first murder in Thailand’s cola wars. A few years ago, a Pepsi distributor stabbed a Coke man to death. A court later ruled that the Pepsi employee had acted in self-defense. Such violence is common in provincial Thailand, where political instability has imparted a certain Wild West atmosphere.
But local officials of the two companies deplored the recent murder. Said Coke’s Win Mumby: “Both Pepsi and Coke have reasonable managements who try to prevent this kind of thing.” Added Pepsi’s Leonard DuBoff: “A poster certainly isn’t worth a man’s life.” Thongyu’s death did accomplish one thing. For a few moments, it got Coke and Pepsi to think seriously about the limits of their rivalry.”
Silverhill, “crescendo” has more than one meaning, and it can also mean “the climactic point or moment in such an increase; peak: The authorities finally took action when public outrage reached a crescendo.” As such, Alan used the word properly.”
Crescendo is also used as a noun in its orginal context, music. As in, “take it from the crescendo.”
Ahh yes, I remember this well; I was only 9 years old, but it was a super hot topic. Our family was a Coca-Cola family, and we all agreed that the new Coke tasted awful. I can’t recall now what we did until the Classic version came out; I guess we drank water or something. the horror!!
But one thing I found interesting: we always said that Coke Classic didn’t really taste like the original Coke. I always wondered how true that was, or if it was just in our heads, but I guess it was because of the switch from sugar to HCFS.
Damn interesting indeed…
Many a question resolved in this article. Well done!!! DI!
Or is it…perhaps I only think it is DI because everyone else seems to think it is DI. Maybe it only smells DI. Perhaps if I read this on another, not so colorful, website, I would not find as DI as think it is.
Or, maybe it really is DI. But now I will never be sure.
“As the photographers’ reflex lenses snapped their mechanical kisses” that’s a beautiful phrase!
and mjunk, hilarious!!!
Coca-Cola Zero is based on Coca-Cola Classic. The New Coke recipe was actually derived from the Diet Coke recipe, which is why Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero have such a different taste.
You know what would hit the spot?
Bald eagle pie and some Crystal Pepsi.
Do you remember the SNL spoof of all the silly cola wars? Here’s the link:
But how about when pure water itself is pumped with advertising and social misconception? Bottled water often loses taste tests against municipal city tap water. Penn & Teller explained it best.
Consumer marketing amounts to psychological warfare. That’s why I dropped my marketing major.
The rift media was able to produce about the “Pepsi Challenge” is still clear in my mind today, some 23 years later! I shall make a few points after the middle aged jaunt down memory lane has passed its “crescendo”, wait,
Ahhh much better now… :)
The divisions between Coke and Pepsi divided the consumer market and gave each drinker an opinion over a minor product choice, that was power of sorts… one product choice created that much flap, an amazing bit of work, much like our two party system! What if you dont like cola?
:) We all seem to get that and many writers seem to allude to it, so I will move on.
The next little tidbit is how these two were to reshape industries. Restaurants both corporate and private had to cast their lot and side with either C or P. It was not a drink revolution but a food revolution. For some places were banned by Coke consumers because they sold Pepsi and vice versa. The food could have been stellar, but if the soda pop was off watch out. Geeze, never heard so much complaining about any other item on a menu!!!
Again, if you lived thru it, you get it…
Now my next observation was in the corporate world of fast food. Obviously Pepsi Co, now a mutation or part of Yum Foods bought most of its corporate food/drink vendors outright.
TBell, Pizza Hut etc. all Pepsi Co. Again, most of us comprehend that.
What you may not know is that the rift between these two went all the way to the construction level. If you built McDonalds, you were not to build any Pepsi product buildings and vice versa. We had the Coke family and the Pepsi family, you built for one or the other. If side switching was discovered, harsh business consequences followed. We were warned not to entertain offers or plans from the other side. Bizarre that a Taste Test with hype could divide people and business with such a profound impact, amazing…
I tried the Cherry Coke Zero. It was awful. Tasted like cough syrup, and very chemically underflavors and aftertaste. I drink either Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper and occasionally Pepsi One when I have soda. Pepsi and Diet Pepsi is way too sweet for my tastes.
With corn now in huge demand as a source of bio-ethanol, HFCS prices are going up too. Alas, I have no idea how much more they’d have to rise before it would become cheaper for Coca-Cola et al to go back to cane sugar.
Max Headroom’s doppelganger ruled even more. :P
Totally crazy isn’t it, here in Africa, its a battle to get a drinkable water…
I despise few professions as much as I do that of marketing. Dishonest lawyers, dishonest politicians (this assumes that at least one politician is honest), and nearly all car salespeople – they rape the public. At least we know from the start that all marketing is designed to bend our minds — we don’t think for a second that marketing ever pretends to be interested in helping someone.
…just goes to show, when you got something that “works”….don’t mess with it!
But the real brain buster here…it was bad enough that corporate greed surrounded the boardroom table to decide (guess) whatever it takes to regain market share and or profits. But NOW…they have to bring psychologists in to analyze a situation and present their findings by which corporate boards make decisions. When will the madness ever end? Isn’t there anybody out there that knows and understands their business and can make decisions accordingly instead of just managing money?
When it comes to car buying, you’re looking at this all wrong…buying a car is a game! It’s a matter of who can negotiate the most favorable price. As long as you can stand up say something like…”I guess we’re not going to do business tonight” and then walk out…the only thing you’ve wasted is an hour or two. You just have to be sure your present car will get you back home.
Do a little research before hand. The net is full of pricing info. Compare car pricing web sites. When you go to the dealer…ask to see the sales manager. You want someone that has the authority to accept/reject a price…not a salesperson that has to wear tennis shoes and run back and forth to the decision making person and ends up jerking you around. And when the dealer starts nickel and diming you, when he’s trying to convince your a trade isn’t worth as much as you think it is, just throw him your last or final offer and say…”deal or no deal?” btw…it also helps to wait to the end of the month when dealers are looking to make their quotas.
It’s not a bad experience (compared to root canal work), you just have to be willing to invest some time and play the players for all their worth…which isn’t much. Good luck on your next car purchase! Once again, it’s all about psychology.
Still who cares nowadays? Pepsi Max was released in 1993 and the rest is history! (Well as far as I’m concerned (Coca-Cola Zero isn’t bad but not as good)) Now for the D.I. article on Aspartame! (Then again that brain tumour stuff is a piss-weak link and, until any real link can be ascertained, Aspartame is a more healthful sweetener than Sugar or HFCS!)
Yeah, the minerals and goodness of mineral water :) But at least it costs lesser than a coke. Coca Cola’s marketing strategy was to place the drink EVERYWHERE. So that whenever someone felt thirsty, the first thing that’d come to their mind is a Coke. And anyone who gulped down water wasn’t doing the “in-thing”! Sympathies. It really is a battle for food and water in Africa. I dearly wish the situation would improve for you guys.
Naah…we’d have never progressed if we did’t tinker with things. But you’ve got a point…they could’ve retained the old coke and supplied the new one side by side.
Sadly, business and movies are totally unpredictable. Nobody can predict the future of a movie or a product coz it’s subject to the consumers whims and fancies. Cinndave could explain that better.
Hey, I was supporting pure water. Not bottled water :)
btw, got reminded of a blog entry I had seen…related to what you’ve said: http://spiritwarp.blogspot.com/2008/06/glug-glug-glug-aaaah.html
Yeah I hope the switch happens, which it would in a proper free market.
Dude, corn fuel is only in demand because of newer additional corn subsidies that keep other bio-ethanol alternatives relatively uncompetitive. The Economist Magazine says there’s so much land, energy, water usage, runoff and fertilizer that go into making corn-fuel, that it’s actually worse than oil. That’s on top of the effect of food prices. There are other fuel crops that are cheaper and easier on the environment than corn. Sugar cane is one of them. But since the corn lobby got its way, it’s not happening. The subsidies and tariffs ruin the competition that corn can’t beat in a free market. Gas in the US would be cheaper at the pump if we just used the right crops, and bought it from whatever country produces it most efficiently. I guess Bush is trying to avoid the irony of switching from foreign oil to foreign biofuel! :P
That’s really interesting. I didn’t know that there was so much to it. Wasn’t there also some kind of Pepsi or Coke Crystal? I seem to remember that…
I’ve never cared for any brand of cola myself, though I do remember the New Coke war, and that I was surprised to see people hoarding “classic Coke” who’d never seemed to care before.
I’m more interested in the transition to HFCS. There’s a theory that HFCS is what’s made Americans suddenly gain weight. Perhaps a DI writer could look into this.
New Coke is brought to you by Fishy Joe’s. Ride the walrus.
I was working at a regionally large/nationally small grocery store chain when all this took place. It sorta took some of us by surprise when first the ad campaign hit and then the Coca Cola reps came around to the corporate offices with samples, etc. and how this thing was going to take off. The article is accurate in that consumers bought all of the old product they could get their hands on. What most of them didn’t think about was that none of the product would be drinkable after a couple of years anyway. The shelf life isn’t all that long, and shorter in the cans than in the bottles. (Have you ever tasted a can of anything that tasted like the can???)
Anyway, the store I managed went through an unusual time. New Coke was not accepted in any way in my locale and Coca Cola had to pick most of it up as it aged on the shelf. Pepsi did no better however, and Lipton Tea sales picked up considerably. As some of the posters referred to, the Classic Coke didn’t quite taste the same as the original. Nobody could prove it locally because the shelf life of the original was only about 18 months and after that it didn’t taste “right” anyway. Nothing to compare to that way.
My dad drank “cokes” all the time I was growing up. He was picky about what he liked, which was either Coca Cola or coffee and not much else. After this deal he quietly quit drinking his cokes and went to mainly coffee. When offered a Coca Cola he would decline, saying only that it wasn’t the same. The honesty of little children and old folks…(that is…if they can’t see the wrapper)
I wonder if all Coke is now the New Coke recipie and we were slowly transitioned into it as consumers? What’s interesting about the advertizing during those Cola wars is that if Coke mentioned Pepsi in their ads, that was in some ways still attention for Pepsi and vice versa. They effectively increased their marketing dollars and reach through this method if you think about it. I like to try things so occasionally I’ll get one can of a different cola brand and it’s different, but a lot of the time better.
Another thought about corn prices (to add to some of the good commentary above)- with the flooding in the Midwest this year the yield might be down, so even if prices go up the production will be less and it will ultimately even out to be the same money. Additionally, my opinion is that if suddenly America has a high demand for corn, they’ll figure out a way to get it without putting extra money in the pockets of the small farmers. Even with a lot of the government rules and set aside land, grants, etc. it is so so very hard to make money at this. The cost of operation alone eats up a lot of money. What most people don’t see is that if a farmer makes $100,000 in profits a year, their cost of operation is usually around $75,000, and who can live off $25,000? Most new harvesting equipment costs half a million dollars these days. I don’t exactly see a whole lot of farmers driving BMWs. Anyway I absolutely agree there must be a better source of fuel out there besides corn.
Sorry for getting on a soapbox about that, I have to go get a coca cola now.
Some additional uses for Coca Cola:
One person who tried a few of these additional uses and the results:
And this post would not be complete without links to some recycled can art:
I am sorry to disagree with you, but I must. I sold cars for nearly a year, and I can assure you that, even if you think that you are well informed and can play the game, you will lose, no matter what (unless you have one of the extremely rare honest salespersons). A game is only a game when everyone knows all of the rules, the playing field is completely equal, and no one tries to win by cheating. None of that applies to most dealerships – especially used-car dealerships – and to most salespersons.
Moreover, new-car dealerships have profit built into each car that you don’t know exists. For example, do you know that, even if a dealer sells a car to you below invoice, he/she will still make three percent profit? That happens for two reasons: 1. The invoice that you can find on the Web and from the manufacturer is not the true invoice. The dealer will not tell you the true price that he/she paid for the car. 2. At the end of the year, the manufacturer gives the dealer a three percent bonus for every car sold. Of course, the salesperson sees none of that.
As for psychology, yep, know it well. So do they. Unless you have several degrees in psychology and have practiced it for years, the odds are high that even an average salesperson will beat you.
Your only defense: As you stated, walk out when you don’t hear the price that you want.
Keep in mind, though, that the chances are extremely good that you still paid too much, even if the dealer gives you the price that you want.
All of the above, of course, doesn’t even begin to touch upon how they can REALLY rip off a customer if he/she finances a vehicle at the dealership.
I quit because I couldn’t stomach watching the owner, managers, and several salespersons screw people with no qualms at all. Two of the salespersons were completely honest, and they are still there. Unsurprisingly, they do not sell as many vehicles as the others because they refuse to manipulate, obfuscate, or flat-out lie.
Finally, don’t think that buying a Saturn will save you just because they charge the same price to everyone and refuse to negotiate. First, they charge about 8% to 10% more for a car than they should. Second, they will screw you on a loan as you cannot imagine.
As the photographers’ reflex lenses snapped their mechanical kisses…
I know we’re being artistic here, but there is no such thing as a reflex lens, and a lens does not snap, the shutter does. On some lenses the shutter is built onto the rear of the lens, but mostly those were obsolete in the mid-80’s, at least for press work.
So about “As the photographers’ shutters clicked mechanical kisses…” ? This also eliminates anthromorphising the lenses as having ownership of the kisses.
On the crescendo thing, perhaps a new word is needed to take it’s place in the original meaning, since the that horse has obviously vacated the stall long ago.
Supercal – have you tried any of those Coke cleaning tips? I tried the coke as a toilet cleaner and can confidently say it’s crap. What I ended up with was a toilet that had a browny coloured sheen to it that it didn’t have before. It needed a scrub after that to remove the brown. Would have been easier to just scrub it first and throw the coke away (I wouldn’t drink that rubbish).
Give me a cool glass of milk any day. and Organic, full fat, non-homogenised ilk at that. Yum!
I heard that in the ’70s Coke had a high sulphuric acid content hence you could melt coins (amongst others thing) but they changed the recipe in the ’80s. I put a coin in a cup of Coke in the ’80s and all that happened was the coin got covered in a brown sludge. Hence I wonder if Coke can really ‘clean blood off the roads’ as police officers apparently do (sounds more like an urban myth to me). And who cares about the drinking ‘acidic’ drinks anyway when the stomach employs a highly corrosive form of hydrochloric acid?
Small farmers are a dying breed I’m afraid. Most of the successful farmers that I know have a day job and farm as more of a hobby. Others have uber-acreage that helps to defray the fixed costs of farming (such as the half million dollar equipment). Sadly, many of our small farmers are taking a mortgage out on their hereditary land in order to buy these machines and extra land; in order to defray costs. In my home state of NC, many of the farmers grew tobacco. When the cigarette companies got hit with the lawsuits, they were stuck with these machines and mortgages while the market for their commodity wasted away. And thus many small farms became brand new cookie cutter neighborhoods. Welcome to the burbs.
I’m pretty passionate about protecting that way of life, though I don’t live it myself. I’d like to see them switch crops to something with a growing market, such as organic / local foods. But the subsidies paid by the government (some specifically anticipating a tobacco glut), are hardly enough to retool to do something else. Furthermore, sometimes the soil just won’t cooperate.
@supercal: one more small note (forgive me, I’m a finance and accounting double major), the $100,000 in your example would more accurately be referred to as “Revenue”. Profit is the $25,000 at the end….I can’t help myself.
I have found that http://www.snopes.com seems to be a fairly reliable site for debunking common beliefs.
For example, they debunked the idea that several gas companies buy no oil from the Middle East. Wrong. It’s only Sunoco.
Looking at all the comments Alan, I think you hit a nerve. DI article.
I remember the sad days of the cola war. The only casualty I remember is Michael Jackson’s head exploding. I believe his nose was a different war casualty. Didn’t Vic Morrow die for Coke?
Quite an interesting read, but it would never affect me or our family cause we never drink the stuff…
Maybe you should drink water (the stuff with no sugar or caffeine) and you may have better oral health and less diabetes problems.
I know people who allow their kids to drink litres of the stuff and wonder why their kids go hyper all the time (which also contributes to poor schooling results) – throw away your coke/pepsi or any other sugar based drink you don’t need it.
Great read! But this moment marks the worst part for me. That I just finished reading the latest article & comments means I am now at the furthest point from a new article being posted … ahhh the waiting begins…
And while I try to look for the best in people, I find it a little bit of a stretch to suggest that someone orchestrated the whole ‘failure’ just so as to get attention back onto Coke, and thus increase sales. I think that’s a little far fetched.
And I hope I used the word ‘orchestrated’ correctly ;-)
Very interesting to see this from “their” side.
I remember the cola war and though I don’t drink the stuff now I have always preferred Coke. New Coke and Pepsi were way too sweet. I too remember people saying that Coke Classic didn’t taste the same as Coke original.
On a side note: HFCS is not the cause of obesity. Sitting in front of one glow box (TV) or the other (computer) and eating more than we need to is the cause of obesity. Though sugary snacks and drinks contribute to that high caloric intake.
If you paid the price you wanted to pay, how can you have paid “too much”? Regardless of how much profit the dealer/manufacturer receive, if you are happy with the price, then I don’t think you paid “too much.” You paid what you wanted to pay, so be happy about it.
That all gets back to the original position of another viewpoint. The idea is to be an educated consumer. If you understand all your financing options, then there’s no way you can get ripped off with dealer/manufacturer financing. If you can get a better rate/terms on a loan from another source, then you just use that. Always go into the process with your finances figured out. Besides, if you take advantage of some of the 0% deals that are still out there, you definitely win. Using someone else’s money for 3-6 years is a very good deal.
I wonder how New Coke tasted with rum…
Interesting to post a sugar water article just following an article about cavities. . .
Of course, everyone knows the real deal is Dr. Pepper.
DI Alan..I’m surprised after 87 comments, the republicans/democrats or the religion/science folks haven’t turned a simple coke/pepsi story into a major conflagration.
I, however, have always been a coke person…pepsi always seemed too sweet.
I live about three miles from Mexico. The Coke bottled over there is still made with sugar. The taste is much better than U.S. produced Coke. It is also still bottled in returnable, glass bottles. Eat your hearts out.
If Corn prices keep rising, will Coke switch back to sugar??
I know many salespersons who would have dearly loved to have had the chance to sell a car to you, especially under the 0% rate. They would have made a killing.
This article is written very well, unlike this post. It’s funny too, also unlike this post. Finally it’s informative and as a reader I feel better off for having read it.
Unlike this post.
Keep up the great work guys!
Loved the lead-in. I knew one guy who was so upset with New Coke, that he had a heart attack while ranting about it! Since both HFCS & aspartame annoy my GI, I don’t drink Coke or Pepsi. Yah, the real thing is out there, but it just isn’t worth the effort to track down.
Great article! Would have like to have seen the word “Coketastrophe” used somewhere, but otherwise very D.I.!
These are the kinds of comments I love to read. Well, I think at this point…several millennia deep, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” But then again that quote did come from King Solomon…and look whats happened since his lifetime.
Of course I don’t know the answer, but unfortunately, I do not think its entirely possible to be a free thinker. There is so much about the human brain that we still don’t understand. The more we learn, the more we seem to talk about unconscious processes. Furthermore, since we’ve become more and more aware of psychological processes, advertising companies have been hiring psychologists since the 1950s (I’m thinking of the “Head-On” commercials). Actually, come to think of it, it probably began much earlier…WWI propaganda, etc. Anyway, now, as most of us know, there is a notorious marriage between advertising and psychology. Before the bombardment of information via television/internet, the free thinker had a much more viable environment. Now…I just don’t know.
So, does anyone else find it terribly ironic that Fidel Castro’s favorite beverage was Coke? Beautiful detail.
Just a little note about the farming industry, I think the small farmer is failing because of the fast food industry. McDonald’s is by far the largest purchaser of potatoes just as Taco Bell is the largest purchaser of tomatoes. Now, McDonald’s is dead set on having every single McDonald’s french fry taste the exact same. After reading this article, we know how picky consumers can be about consistency. So, McDonald’s requires their grower to produce one, and one only, “breed” of potato (the name is escaping me but if you want to know more read “The Botany of Desire”) and as you can guess…in egregious quantities. So its hard for the small farmer to keep up for a myriad of reasons. Aside from the mere quantities needed, pesticide gets expensive and its needed badly because bacteria can easily adapt to the consistency of one specific type of produce.
Don’t know where this is going exactly but my computer is dying. Great Article!
The potato that you are talking about is the Burbank Russet. It is a favored potato that McDonalds as well as many other restaurants use. Luther Burbank first discovered the Burbank potato in England around 1872, due to his curiosity of a strange plant he found in a nearby garden. With minimum eyes, and easy to peel skin, it soon became a favorite.
Luther sold his discovery to a Mr. Gregory in Massachusetts, and then used the money to move to California. He took ten tubers with him, which sprouted into over six million bushels by 1906 and became the staple potato crop of California, Oregon, and Washington.
In another accidental discovery, Lon Sweet in Colorado noticed a strange seedling off one Burbank, which he nursed into a viable plant. Different than the Burbank as it had a courser skin and an appearance that only a mother could love. It was superior to the Burbank in that it was particularly resistant to blight, the number one nemesis of potatoes.
Interesting enough, it was not until the tuber was introduced to Idaho that it became favored. The potato requires hot days and cool evenings in order to grow. Since Idaho is mostly a desert state these conditions are perfect along the Snake River Plain.
Next there is something about the volcanic soil of Idaho that produces a high quality potato, regardless of type. The loose soil and rich supply of trace minerals give rise to a bumper crop of tubers that are moist and flaky. It has been found that new land cultivated for crops from centuries of desert growth of sagebrush, bitterbrush, cactus, and various grasses produces an exceptionally large and delectable first crop.
Yet on the flip side, Idaho soil is woefully poor in nitrogen and phosphates. Both which have to be added for a successful crop. The other strange fact is that Idaho, as a desert state, has a poor rainfall, yet potatoes require high moisture content in order to grow. Something the Snake River Plain is poor in. It took Swiss and German immigrants to discover Idaho’s true fortune. Beneath the desert soil resides one of the world’s largest known natural reservoirs. By digging canals and ditches across the desert, the soil was “flood irrigated” giving the potato that nice comfy wet bed it so requires.
Due to the moist and flaky flesh of the Burbank Russet Potato from Idaho, many restaurants serve it over Russets from other states. Other countries have imported the Idaho Russet and now produce an equal to the Idaho Spud. Simplot, which has its roots in Idaho, is now an international company thanks to the marketing of the Idaho Russet.
As a side note, Idaho is suffering a blight from Nemotode. It causes the harvested potato to rot during storage but gives no outward sign until after harvest and storage. Even though other countries have the Nemotode, it is due to Idaho’s world wide influence of the Russet that other countries have a ban on Idaho potatoes unless the source is confirmed free and clear of this blight. That includes farm areas within a certain distance of the source farm.
In order to combat this pestilence, fields are sprayed with a chemical and then covered with acres of white plastic in order to “bake” the soil, hopefully killing the infestation since the Nematode can survive for years in untreated soil.
I read the suggested reading article on the kid’s tastes being affected by McDonald’s packaging. I’d have to say their study, as described, doesn’t have very good controls. They put two meals in front of kids, one with regular McDonald’s packaging and the other with plain white wrappers, and then asked the kids which tasted better. Please. Of course they are going to choose the branded one. A better study would be to have them rate the taste of the food on a scale of 1-10. Give 50% of the test subjects the McDonalds packaged food, and the generic to the remaining 50%, then see if the rating scales had steep variation. I bet I could design packaging that would beat McDonald’s for “taste,” i.e. I could design packaging that might have a popular contemporary movie characters on them, and when put side by side with “now plain” old McDonald packaging would make the product “taste” better.
1. (music) An instruction to play gradually more loudly, denoted by a long, narrow angle with its apex on the left. Abbreviation: cresc. Symbol
2. (figuratively) A gradual increase of anything, especially to a dramatic climax.
Their fighting rose in a fearsome crescendo.
3. (figuratively, nonstandard) The climax of a gradual increase.
Their arguing rose to a fearsome crescendo.
My dad is one of the higher-ups in PepsiCo, so this hit an incredibly high mark for excellence with me. The battle of the Cola wars is wrought with the corpses of half-drunk soda cans.
Needless to say, I’m a Pepsi fan myself, and interestingly enough, they’re still doing those Pepsi Challenges…
Thanks for the compliment! I, too, enjoy many of the comments that appear in here. Not to turn this into a mutual admiration society, but your observations about McDonald’s and the small farmer are of great interest to me for reasons too numerous to list here.
I also like your quote. It appears in Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books of the Old Testament. The true author of the book is actually unknown, although many scholars do agree with you that it was Solomon.
Very interesting!! Back when I was an avid soda drinker, I preferred Pepsi to Coke, and I clearly remember the silly “cola wars.” The best part was the Coca Cola retrenchment when New Coke flopped…the commercials that featured all sorts of “classic” things, leading up to “classic” Coke. Oh, please…the ’57 Chevy is a classic, Coke is … well … just a drink.
They are getting richer, now that corn prices have doubled. According to the USDA, the average farmer salary is $229,300. That’s not poor. With an average that high, the Median can’t be too low either. There’s a $1.5 million income limit for subsidies’ recipients, but a little bookkeeping trickery can hide the income so rich farmers can limbo under it and get their handout, and elected officials get their kickbacks. The farm subsidies in the annual US agriculture bill favor the big farms over the little guys. After all, it is the big powerful ones that hire the lobbyists. Subsidies are in proportion to output. And since the big farms already have the advantage in output through economies of scale, the rich get more handouts than the small guys, so they struggle. The biggest devastation is in other countries. Impoverished Mexican corn farmers are driven out of business when subsidized American corn is dumped on domestic markets in Latin America. See? Thanks to the subsidies, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and perfectly viable farms are driven out of business. Subsidies and protectionism make us less competitive and we produce less food.
In a fair market, high food prices would encourage more supply: New farms pop up (wheat farms are reappearing in VT for example) and old ones can invest in new capital for higher productivity (like GM seeds, or satellite computer imaging to see where to allocate water/fertilizers). But why bother earning money that way? Why expand to sell more food when you can just hit up congress for another handout?
To keep food prices (and soda prices) down, I want farms to be productive, competitive, and efficient. Cost-efficient farms should flourish and encourage price competition, so we can all enjoy more affordable food. Obsolete farms should go out of business instead of being propped up on the taxpayers’ dime. If that means the little guys have to go, so be it. But let there be fair competition. Small local farms have the advantage of being close by, so you don’t have to spend a fortune in fuel these days to transport food like you do with the mega-farms way out in Kansas.
Sugar, corn, and all food prices are rising all over the world. Trade restrictions and government-sponsored stagnation in agricultural investment is to blame. Bio fuel is only a small fraction of the reason (5%-10% of the hike).
Again, sorry for the tangent. I’ve been reading The Economist a lot lately. 8-)
I think your obsession with this has “reached a crescendo.” Get over it and let the people use the word however they would like. As a linguistics expert, I would say that your analysis of this particular usage is short-sighted and somewhat ethnocentric to your own experiences. Leave it already. Nit picking a single word out of an amazingly interesting article seems absolutely obscure.
I don’t know if it has been mentioned already, as I don’t have hours and hours to read all the comments, but I remember reading that Sprite went through an interesting public revulsion period when they changed the design on the can. It included more yellow and although the formula was completely and utterly untouched, people described it as more lemon-flavored and therefore disagreeable. Go figure, it’s like dumb man’s synesthesia.
I like it Allen
That may very well be. In fact, I bought one with just such financing. Got it for the price I wanted, too. If they (salesman/dealer/manufacturer) made a good profit, good for them. That’s what they are supposed to do. Who am I to question how much profit someone should make? But if I paid what I wanted to pay, and got to use “free” money for five years, I really don’t see why I should not be happy.
They made no money on financing, while the money I would have spent had I paid cash was earning me more through interest and investments. If you can explain how they had some sort of advantage, or made more money off of me with that deal, then perhaps I am mistaken in my assessment of my “good deal.”
The money they made on the price of the car was whatever it was, and somewhat beyond my control. After all, if I want a particular vehicle, all I can do is argue for the price I want to pay. They will either accept it, or they won’t, and I will either walk out, or capitulate to their price. In either case, if I want a certain Toyota because of my particular needs and desires, I can’t really go to Ford as an alternative. Doing my research, though, I had a pretty good idea as to what was the best possible price I could expect, and I got it. I have yet to run across anyone who got a better price. It is certainly possible I could have paid less, but based on my research, I really doubt that.
I guess you could argue against paying the price of virtually any item. Most have other expenses factored in, including profit. Car salesmen get a bad rap for trying to take advantage of people, which may very well be deserved. But I think the point here is that, if you go into the process well informed, it is far less likely you will be taken to the cleaners.
Seems like a good practice…
One of the few other alternatives I could think of would be to pay cash for a vehicle that is a year or two old and still under warranty. This practice helps shave off some of that disappearing value some new cars suffer the minute it drives off the lot. Again, emphasis on the word “some”… Your right, as the consumer you set the buy price offer; if a “deal” cant be struck, you can walk away.
If a new, specific car is the only option that will do, your right, try to get the best price.
I still lean toward cash and carry, but that is just because I can not abide being in debt, it hangs on my concious too much; even if it is a legit financing deal. The zero intrest is truely a modern marvel of exchange! You may find dealerships being very cooperative right now when you consider the stock market prices of these manufacturers and declining sales.
Warning, economic rant approaching, brace for soap box disertation, thank you.
I am not implying the economy is in the toilet, just a few sectors of it. I have a bright outlook for the economy as soon as the corporations fess up, take there licks and get back in line, instead of all the cloak and dagger tap dance with the performance numbers and borrowing like mad to hide the truth. We know housing got smoked, oil is King right now and dominates the market, the ag’s are strong, airlines weak, vehicle dealers are hurting and metals are on the rise… We will recover quicker if the financials would just come out with it, instead of bogging down future quarters.
Much of this also has to do with us as consumers. We need to look ahead a little better, depend less on credit and financing and just plain save a buck. We are definantely in the NOW age, and that gets old quick. So many other adults I know live way beyond their means, so if any little ripple in the economy occurs, it swamps their boat. We really should live beneath our means and maintain a reserve.
To PMCKONE and JASON:
Re: Sugar filled coke in the states…
Just so you know I’ve seen it for months now in glass bottles in a cardboard carrier of 4 at Kroger (aka: Ralph’s to many more in the western states.) The bottles have a more classic writing, the cardboard is a tan-ish type color, and it makes a point to mention there is real sugar inside. The stuff I think is probably around 50cents more per bottle vs HFCS, but if it’s what you want it can be found bottled for the States.
Regardless I was 8 when this happened and too young to get into food wrappers. I know my parents picked the stuff up and it was in the house and to me it was just Coke…at first. I tried it and it really didn’t taste the same, and around then I got yet more into 7up and A&W Root Beer as a primary, but if I had to stomach a coke I’d bother as Pepsi was always foul to me and still is as it’s like some heinous chem-wash coke wannabe unnatural mess. When Coke came back I was happy for sure and drank it, and it wasn’t until 1989 did I realize it was different when on a trip into the Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel(Mexico) when I got the sugary goodness again and realized I got hosed.
I saw that post up there and I only hope that if anything good is to come out of the insanely stupid corn based fuel idiocy going on is that it drives up corn to a rate sugar comes back into play. Until then I’m fine enough with how coke is, but as I said up top…you can get it as ‘natural’ as ever at retail here and there and if I need a cane sugar coke high I’m in!
idontreallyliketalkingaboutmyflair, I can see why you don’t really like talking about your soi-disant flair, since you have so little thereof. A true linguistics expert would not have made so many errors in his/her comment (at least four; discerning them is left as an exercise for the student), so I can discount at least that part of your response. Try again, but prepare yourself (much) better next time.
If we all used words however we would like, there would be very little understanding in the world (as if there were a lot currently…!). Example: I think that your argument was cogent and perspicacious. Except that I use “cogent” here to mean “ill-wrought”, and “perspicacious” to mean “foolish”. See how there was no problem with communication when I chose to use arbitrary meanings?
I’m with you on the cash-and-carry idea, usually. I don’t like carrying debt, either, but in this case, I made an exception, since the “debt” wasn’t true debt. I could have paid cash for it, but why use my money when I can use someone else’s? Also, I don’t mind the drop in value once I take it off the lot, as I plan on owning it until it won’t run. Since it is a Toyota, odds are pretty good that will be many years (and miles) down the road. Paying cash for something used, however, is generally a better idea than buying new with financing. And if you buy privately, cash is a great bargaining chip.
I also have a problem with words being misused, then passed off as some sort of linguistic evolution. “Irregardless” has made its way into most English dictionaries, and while it is generally noted as being “nonstandard,” I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it becomes “standard.” Of course, this is probably not a “misuse” issue, since a word that never actually existed cannot really be “misused,” I guess. I hadn’t really thought about the misuse of crescendo, but now I will. Thanks for pointing it out.
How about decimated? This one really irritates me. It means REDUCED BY TEN PERCENT!!! Not total destruction.
Yeah! Decimated, a Roman Legion punishment where every tenth man was put to the sword due to poor performance of the unit… wierd how words mutate and evolve. The root words and histories of our language are facinating. Easter, tyrant and Marathon all have good histories/stories attached to the words.
I live in South Africa but I spent two years in and around the UK. I noticed that Coke tasted different – I prefer the taste in South Africa. Ended up drinking Diet Coke in the UK instead since it didn’t taste as sweet as “full fat” Coke. Reading this article though the sugar v HFCS reasoning would probably explain it. I would run across the newsroom to the vending machine to grab a can and confirm that ours still have sugar in them – but I’ve recently re-looked at my budget and can’t justify spending cash on fizzy drinks anymore (dratted petrol and food price increases). So it’s water or natural fruit juice now. *sigh* Ah well, guess it’s for the best all round.
Great article, thanks.
There was an interesting set of experiments recently which showed that rats which drank aspartame drinks got a lot fatter than rats that drank sugar drinks. Diet drinks are apparently anti-diet drinks!
yes Sid.. I am also interested in the proper usage of words. My mother was from West Virginia and she always used “irregardless”.We used to say “Mom, thats not a word” and she would always come back with “Well it is now!”….yes ma’am…I still use it just to annoy the purists…sorry, Silverhill…just havin’ fun
Hello and thank you for what may very well be my favorite blog post.
It is amazing to me the power of mass media and advertising that can force companies throw around millions of dollars, or to get people in Thailand who make $350 a year to buy 50+ cans of cola per year (as indicated in one of the extra reading articles). The stuff must be a drug.
It is unfortunate, however, that what seems to be most people in this country care more for their soft drinks than they do for, say, the homeless or the poverty-stricken. I know this is a utopic statement, but wouldn’t it be great if people would raise a similar fuss about the way the homeless are treated.
Does anyone remember: “OK SODA”
I believe that was a coke marketing ploy. I do rememebr the cans having excellent artwork. I also remember a phone number you could call to have someone tell you that you felt OK
It tasted just like when you went to a fast food joint and mixed all of the fountain drinks together.
Dr. Pepper made with Cane Sugar is available in Waco, Texas at the Dr. Pepper Museum (just off of I-35)
Definitely prefer Mexican cola vs. the US hfcs version. Only in Mexico I wouldn’t call it a cola, if you know what I mean.
I live in Thailand and it doesn’t surprise me at all that two yahoo distributors were killed over that garbage. Thais love both Pepsi and Coke, which should just be called Crap and Shit in my opinion. Thai women used to be so lovely and slim, now you are seeing more and more fatties with spotty skin. You want a fat girlfriend, put her on Crap or Shit plus KFC. Most Thais dislike exercise, especially walking, so the combination is deadly.
After all the flack that McDonalds and other fast food chain have caught nutrition-wise, I am surprised that these companies haven’t had more criticism. Really, you couldn’t drink anything unhealthier, except maybe cola made from lard instead of water. Think its bad in Thailand or the States, go to the Philippines. They guzzle Shit and Crap by the gallons, and the poorer they are, the more they drink. Can’t buy rice these days, but we got cola! Happy days!
Something is wrong with Amerika when people get so worked up about something like cola tastes. Really, every time I go home I notice how more and more delusional people are. Especially about the real world. It must be the constant fat and sugar buzz they have.. “La di la la… it helps me forget my subprime mortgage.”
One thing about Coke here, its a lot less carbonated. I guess Thais aren’t into the belching part like we are.
Forgot to say: But very interesting article. Well done.
I love the comments almost as much as the articles, but seriously, is there a place we can take this discussion? I’d love to input on it all. Semantics, chemistry, synesthesia, perception, propaganda, economics, biologic independence, sensationalist media, crooked elites, and.. oh, rum.
Seriously, is there a corner of this little infoweb universe that we could partition ourselves and try and solve the world’s problems? The people that read this site seem to be a reasonable and informed lot, I’m sure we could help a little bit. On a side note.. Does Alan ever make it all the way down here?
And to the article: I’m surprised no one mentioned the association of party lines and affluence of Coke drinkers vs Pepsi drinkers. If I remember right, poor(er) democrats picked Pepsi.
I also find a splash of rum cements my satisfaction.
I think the most obscure and hidden the jokes are the best. Therefore, the waxed tadpole reference made me giggle in ways that most would find odd.
Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’ve never heard “decimated” used with this meaning (total destruction) before. Granted, most people don’t bother calculating the percentages, but for total destruction “annihilated” is the more appropriate word ;-)
By making cocaine.
“They re-embraced the beverage they had taken for granted…”
haven’t we all (apart from beverages). :D
A good read indeed.
Nearly 10 years ago? Hard to believe.
This thread turned out to be especially lively.
Thanks for reposting it.
And another repost! Thanks, again.
And another repost just three days later! Gotta love it.
Reposting this article is perfect timing in light of today’s announcement about New Coke coming back. All I can say is “Why? It died for a good reason.”
As of today, I have not tried the New Coke and doubt that I ever shall.
Checking back in.
I am returned.
So am I.
As do I.