“You can’t change something that’s classic,” seventeen year old Wisoncsin native Mel Cyr told The Wall Street Journal in response to the recent appearance of regular Coke in white cans reminiscent of the brand’s Diet Coke packaging. Coca-Cola’s agreed to bring back the red can we’ve been so conditioned into loving, but there’s still some debate as to whether or not the color is all the company changed. Some seasoned soda drinkers claim the white can Coke tastes, for lack of a better word, “funky.” Coca-Cola claims they didn’t tamper with Coke Classic’s formula, but since when are we supposed to believe a multi-national beverage conglomerate?
I tracked down a few white can Cokes in my neighborhood this morning, and as someone who is more familiar with Coke than most of his relatives I can assure you the soft drink in these cans offers a lighter, less intense flavor of Coca-Cola. It doesn’t taste like Diet Coke, mind you—there’s none of that aspartamy chemical swish. The stuff’s just got less bite than real Coke. It tastes like they upped the sugar and lessened the, uh, whatever it is that makes Coke so bitter. I don’t want to use the “P” word in describing this Yuletide curiosity, but I’d understand if you felt that way after pouring some down your gullet.
Of course, a Coke product that tastes similar to their main competitor harkens back to the 1985 New Coke debacle, an episode regular readers know is one of my obsessions. Is white can Coke leftover New Coke that the company had previously banished to remote Micronesian islands? Is Coke in such dire financial straights that they decided to re-introduce New Coke covertly for the handful of Americans who actually preferred it to Coke Classic? Did somebody make an “uh-oh” at the Coke plant, accidentally whipping up a batch of New Coke for the next two months instead of the regular stuff? Obviously I cannot answer these questions before I take a road trip to Atlanta with a private investigator.
In the meantime, can we get a lobby going to start calling this stuff “Honky Coke?” Is that offensive to people from Newport, Rhode Island? Get back at me on that one, Internet.