Established more than 133 years ago, Coca-Cola is a legend in the carbonated drinks market. While it has churned out many impressive drinks over the years, some of its creations have been epic failures. Check out these 10 Coca-Cola drinks that embarrassed the company in a big way.
10. Coca-Cola Water Salad
For most Americans, the ultimate thirst quencher is a can of ice-cold soda. And Coca-Cola is by far the most preferred soda brand in America. This iconic carbonated beverage was created in 1886 and is now available in almost every country on the planet. And in a variety of flavors too – from the classic Coca-Cola flavor to Diet Coke to Coca-Cola Cherry to everything else in between! Over the years, Coca-Cola has tried to get creative and introduced many outrageous flavors, most of which were launched elsewhere before being introduced in the American market. And some never made it to America. Coca-Cola Water Salad is one such flavor that, mercifully, did not reach American shores! Coca-Cola Water Salad soda was first introduced in 2004 in the Japanese market to rival Pepsi’s equally bizarre yogurt-flavored soda. While we’re not sure what the flavor creators at both companies were thinking when they came up with these outlandish flavors, we’re sure of one thing – nobody ever asked for canned Water Salad soda! Produced by Coca-Cola in Japan, Coca-Cola Water Salad is said to be water with a salad flavor. Or is it soda that tastes like water that drips off a freshly-made salad?! Consumers have reported that the drink has a fruity taste. The drink can has cute graphics of fruits, and the drink is said to be available in six different salad flavors! Reportedly, a centrifuge was used to extract the essence from romaine lettuce to create the water salad flavor. Needless to say, this drink remained confined to the Asian markets and never made it to America. But if you’re in Japan and find yourself craving tasty salad water, you can easily quench your thirst with a can of Coca-Cola Water Salad!
9. Mare Rosso
Coca-Cola is best known for its eponymous sweet-tasting fizzy beverage that is also its signature drink. It is sold in countries all across the globe in various forms – in cans, bottles and at soda fountains, and in a variety of flavors. Coca-Cola also tries to be creative and comes up with interesting variations to its signature drink – some that are a huge hit with customers and some that are spectacular failures. The company also creates flavors for specific markets that will appeal to the local consumers. And one such unique flavor is Mare Rosso. The Coca-Cola Company in Spain first created the Mare Rosso in response to Pepsi’s Kas bitter tasting drink. It was designed and marketed as a herbal drink. The non-alcoholic soft drink had a ‘bitter herb’ flavor. We don’t know why Coca-Cola thought that a bitter, herb-flavored drink would be liked by consumers, even in Spain? It seemed that Mare Rosso was just created so that Coca-Cola could claim to have a drink to compete with Pepsi’s Kas. While sweet-tasting sodas are the norm, Pepsi decided to innovate with a bitter-tasting soda. The bitter Kas drink came in a range of flavors like orange, grapefruit, apple and lemon. Pepsi may have created Kas as an experimental drink to attract offbeat customers, but Coca-Cola took it up as a challenge and went on to introduce the Mare Rosso. The drink claimed to have herbal extracts that gave it a distinct bitter taste; not something customers appreciated! Coca-Cola even spent a lot of money marketing the Mare Rosso in Spain, but a bottle of bright red carbonated beverage that tastes bitter is just pointless. And the consumers in Spain seemed to agree. Thus, Mare Rosso was one of the many Coca-Cola drinks that embarrassed the company.
8. Coca-Cola Green Tea
When you think of Coca-Cola, the familiar red can with ‘Coca-Cola’ written across it in an elaborate yet casual squiggly text comes to mind. And even before we pop open the can, we know the taste – it is sweet, fizzy and thirst-quenching. But never in a million years would you think that your good old Coca-Cola drink would come in a green tea flavor! But that is exactly what the people at Coca-Cola in Japan created – Coca-Cola Green Tea! In early June 2009, Coca-Cola announced that they would be introducing a brand new flavor exclusively in Japan. The flavor was said to resemble the taste of green tea and the drink was targeted towards health-conscious young women in their 20s and 30s. It was said to contain antioxidants from green tea extracts called catechins that left a mild green tea aftertaste in the mouth. Coca-Cola Green Tea flavor was mainly marketed towards people who were looking for a tasty yet healthy drink that had beauty benefits too. While we understand that most companies launch their experimental products in Japan and other Asian markets, but according to many reports, the green tea flavored Coca-Cola did not do well even in Japan. Most people do not associate Coca-Cola with anything remotely healthy and trying to convince consumers that Coca-Cola Green Tea flavor had serious health benefits was quite a difficult task. Most people just didn’t believe it. And those who did buy it didn’t like the taste.Even Coca-Cola’s rival Pepsi failed at their attempt to introduce a competing healthy drink – Pepsi Shiso. This exotic soda was flavored with Japanese basil, shiso, and was sold as a limited-run drink. Ultimately, Coca-Cola Green Tea flavored drink was soon discontinued.
7. Coca-Cola Orange
When you think of Coca-Cola, you think of a dark brown sugary soda and when you think of orange soda, you generally don’t think of Coca-Cola! But apparently the top shots at Coca-Cola thought it would be a fantastic idea to mix the two! Thus, they came up with the Coca-Cola Orange or Coca-Cola With Orange (in certain markets) drink. First introduced in the United Kingdom as a limited edition flavor, Coca-Cola Orange was a unique orange-flavored variation on the classic soda. It was meant to appeal to consumers who preferred citrus flavors of soda. It was subsequently introduced to other European countries and the Japanese market as well but discontinued soon after due to declining sales. Though Coca-Cola Orange was a failure, Coca-Cola later introduced Fanta, which was a huge success. More recently, they launched Orange No Sugar in Australia and Orange Vanilla in Canada in 2018. In early 2019, the company announced two new Coca-Cola flavors for the North American market – Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar. The Orange Vanilla flavor is said to be doing very well. As per Coca-Cola, their aim at creating this pair of drinks was to give customers a taste of their childhood, the one associated with creamy orange popsicles, in the Orange Vanilla flavor. The flavor was designed to evoke positive memories of carefree summer days in a classic Coca-Cola way. Though Coca-Cola Orange may have failed, the company’s second attempt at introducing an orange-flavored coke drink seems to have been a success.
Milk and soda is not something you generally associate together or even use in the same sentence. But Coca-Cola surely thinks otherwise. For they have created a freaky drink called Vio that is essentially carbonated milk with fruity flavors! If you gasped reading that or are still trying to get your head around that idea, we don’t blame you. Launched in 2009 in America as a ‘fruit-flavored carbonated milk drink’, Vio came in a variety of fruity flavors like Peach Mango, Tropical Colada, Very Berry and Citrus Blast. It essentially consisted of milk, fruit, sugar and bubbles and came in colorful and attractively packaged bottles. It was once advertised as ‘a birthday party for a polar bear.’ But it never really took off in America for Americans simply could not digest the idea of milk mixed with carbonated water. This carbonated milk drink was artificially flavored with varieties of fruits. Most Americans found the drink to be a monstrosity and gross in taste. One popular media publication even called it one of the worst beverage ideas in history. Yet, Vio found some takers in the overseas markets. It was introduced in limited quantities in certain markets like India and other Asian countries.
Kvass is a traditional fermented Slavic beverage made from rye bread. It is an alcoholic drink in most parts of the world since it contains about 1.2% alcohol, but is considered non-alcoholic by Russian and Ukrainian standards. Kvass has been consumed in Eastern Europe for hundreds of years and is often referred to as ‘bread drink’. It is made by fermenting rye bread to about 1% alcohol content and then flavored with raisins, mint or strawberries. If this concoction sounds gross to you, what would you think of a kvass drink made by Coca-Cola? Coca-Cola tried to get in on all the kvass action in a bid to gain market share in the post-USSR period of Eastern Europe. After the fall of the USSR, though Coca-Cola gained popularity, other indigenous brands promoted the traditional kvass as a patriotic drink, forcing Coca-Cola to create their own version of kvass. But they should have just stuck to their original brand of drinks instead of creating a terrible drink like Coca-Cola Kvass. They introduced their kvass drink called Krushka & Bochka Kvass in May 2008 in Russia in various flavors, each to cater to the preferences of different regions of Russia. It was introduced in several Baltic countries and the U.S. as well. There were Coca-Cola Kvass varieties like sour, sweet, cranberry, bilberry, etc. But it did not do very well in most countries.
Several drinks introduced by Coca-Cola over the years have been a direct result of a competitive drink launched by Pepsi. One such drink is Vault. It was created as an answer to Pepsi’s Mountain Dew, a product that had been a long-established hybrid-energy drink-cum-soda in the Pepsi arsenal. For a long time, Coca-Cola did not have a product to rival Mountain Dew. But the company remedied that with the introduction of Vault to the American markets in 2005. Vault was essentially a green citrus-flavored soda and energy drink. It was heavily advertised and marketed across various media outlets, including TV spots during the Super Bowl. One of the most popular advertisements for Vault stated that it ‘Drinks like a soda, kicks like an energy drink.’ The primary customer base for Vault was athletic young men. By 2006, Coca-Cola had released many variants of Vault like Grape Vault, Peach Vault, Vault Red Blitz and Vault Zero. Some of these variants were in a direct response to a new Mountain Dew flavor released by Pepsi. Vault did attain some customer base but did not take off as much as Mountain Dew. Coca-Cola’s Vault lasted for six years before being discontinued in 2011.
3. Diet Coke Plus
By the late 2000s, Coca-Cola was making a big push into health and energy drinks market in order to bolster sales. Americans were slowly coming to terms with the obesity risks related to excessive consumption of sodas. Hence, Coca-Cola made a strategic move to introduce healthy drinks. In 2007, Diet Coke Plus (also known as Coca Cola Light Plus) came into being. It was a variant of Diet Coke fortified with various minerals, antioxidants and vitamins. It had the taste of Diet Coke that consumers enjoyed with the added benefits of vitamins and minerals. It was even advertised in a similar manner. But this drink got embroiled in a controversy with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) authorities in the U.S. They sent a warning letter to Coca-Cola about the usage of the word ‘Plus’ in Diet Coke Plus without adequate justification about nutrients that would allow the drink to be qualified to use the word. Coca-Cola countered that there were no health or safety issues with Diet Coke Plus and it complied with FDA’s regulations. Nevertheless, Diet Coke Plus was pulled off the shelves in the U.S. in 2011. It can still be found in certain international markets like Japan. It was also released in the U.K. in 2007 in two versions containing different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But poor sales were reported in the U.K. market too.
2. Coca Cola BlāK vs. Coca-Cola With Coffee
Some Coca-Cola products are way ahead of its time, case in point, Coca-Cola BlāK. This drink was introduced in the French markets before making its way to the U.S. in 2006. It was a coffee-flavored soda that was artificially sweetened, had twice the amount of caffeine found in a serving of regular Coca-Cola and half its calories. It was created to attract high-end customers with a stylized name like ‘BlāK’ and designed to taste like premium coffee. But consumers were not a big fan either of the name or the taste. At that time, most consumers were not into the taste of a soda that tasted like coffee. So, Coca-Cola BlāK was discontinued in 2008. Cut to 2019, the soda, coffee and drinks scene has changed drastically. Coffee-flavored drinks are not considered weird anymore. Coca-Cola admits that with Coca-Cola BlāK, they were quite ahead of their time. But the company has hinted that they might bring back a new coffee cola to replace Coca Cola BlāK. They are already selling a Coca-Cola With Coffee (or Cola Plus Coffee) drink in many international markets like Italy, Australia, Spain, Poland and Thailand. The positive response to this coffee cola drink has led Coca-Cola to expand their reach to other countries as well, including the U.S. The company believes that the American market is ready for a Coca-Cola With Coffee drink and the product may launch in the U.S. soon.
In 1998, Coca-Cola came up with another citrusy soda called Citra. It was designed as a caffeine-free grapefruit soda. It was similar to the Fresca drink of the 1980s that was also owned by Coca-Cola. It acquired a substantial fan base during its eight-year tenure but did not do as well as expected by Coca-Cola. Sales lagged and the production of Citra was eventually put on hold. It was merged with the Fanta brand that was also owned by Coca-Cola and rebranded as Fanta Citrus in 2004. But it was discontinued shortly thereafter. Another fun fact about Citra is that a drink of the same name was acquired by Coca-Cola India in 1993 from an Indian manufacturer that sold a lemon and lime flavored soda under the brand name ‘Citra’.