The Coca-Cola Company was started in 1886 by a pharmacist by the name of John Pemberton and the first product sold was the iconic Coca-Cola. The drink was an immediate success and by 1895 it was being sold in every state of the union. Since then the Coca-Cola Company has expanded so much that it now has over 500 different products being sold around 200 countries. Not only does Coca-Cola produce different flavours of the classic Coke drink, but they also produce a range of different drinks such as Fanta, Dasani water, Sprite, Minute Maid juice, and many more. But since Coca-Cola has released so many different products over the years, it also means that there have been some products that were not received so well by the consumers. Here are the Top 10 Coca-Cola drinks that embarrassed the company.
10. New Coke
A lot of companies got through changes during their time, and It’s impossible for such a long-lasting brand like Coca-Cola to not switch up a few things about its products over the years. In 1985, Coca-Cola was losing sales to other competing soda brands so it decided that Coke needed a change up. Coke decided to change its formula and release a new and improved New Coke in hopes of regaining the lost sales. However, it didn’t exactly go as planned as the company received major backlash for the change. The company headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia received over 40,000 calls and letters from people complaining about their favourite drink’s new flavour. The company’s phone hotline started getting over 1000 calls a day instead of the usual 400. A man named Gay Mullins even tstarted an organization called the Old Cola Drinkers of America, and attempted to file a class action lawsuit against the drink company (he didn’t win). Because of the excessive backlash, after only 3 months of New Coke being sold, Coca-Cola reverted back to the old formula. Despite the backlash though, the sales of Coke did start to rise again, which led some people to believe that the entire ordeal was just a clever marketing ploy to bring more attention to the company.
9. OK Soda
An important part of marketing is knowing how to grab the attention of a specific audience. In 1993, Coca-Cola decided that it needed to start marketing towards Generation X through a new drink called OK Soda. The product was named OK because it’s the most recognized word around the globe (and Coke was second of course), and it was meant to appeal to Generation X through the use of cynical and disillusioned slogans and aesthetics. The man behind the marketing concept was no other than the same person who was in charge of New Coke, so it’s no wonder the product flopped. The design of the cans were much different than usual Coke cans, the bright red is replaced with simple grey tones and sombre cartoon faces. On each can was a sentence from the OK Soda manifesto, that included things like, “What’s the point of OK? Well, what’s the point of anything” and “OK Soda emphatically rejects anything that is not OK, and fully supports anything that is.”. The drink was also known for its unique marketing, which included a set of offbeat commercials targeted towards a generation that didn’t like mass-media marketing. These included a series of commercials formatted like chainmail, and filled with messages like “Take a quick glimpse at our product” and “insert overused slogan here”. But clearly the strange anti-advertising strategy didn’t do much, as OK Soda in 1995, only two years after its release.
8. Coca-Cola Blak
Coca-Cola is known for its variety of different Coke flavours ranging from cherry to vanilla to Coke Zero, so it’s never a surprise when the company comes out with yet another flavour of the classic beverage. This one was a bit different however, as it was actually marketed as an energy drink instead of just another flavour of Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola Blak was first released in France in 2006 and moved into the American market quite quickly after. its main selling point was its high levels of caffeine, making it a competitor to other energy drinks on the market. Coke is already a drink with plenty of caffeine in it. In a 12oz can of classic Coca-Cola, there’s 34mg of caffeine, which is around 3 times less than the amount in a cup of coffee of the same size. Coca-Cola Blak however, contained 46mg of caffeine in a bottle that was only 10oz instead of the usual 12oz. After doing the calculations, one can come to the conclusion that Coca-Cola Blak contains nearly twice the amount of caffeine per ounce as normal Coke does. Many people who tried the drink did not like its flavour and this along with the fact that it was competing against bigger energy drink companies such as Red Bull for sales is probably why Coca-Cola Blak was discontinued in 2008.
As a globalized company, Coca-Cola has different products all over the world, some of which are exclusive to a particular country. For example, Japan has a green tea flavoured Coke, raspberry Coke in New Zealand, and Inca Kola in Peru. Italy’s exclusive Coca-Cola product was a drink called Beverly, that made its debut in 1969 and was sold all the way up to 2009, when it was finally discontinued. The drink is a non-alcoholic aperitif, a type of alcohol consumed before meals in order to stimulate the appetite. It’s no secret that non-alcoholic alcoholic beverages are pretty gross, so it’s amazing that the drink stayed in the market for 40 years. Part of Beverly’s charm is actually just how gross it tastes. On Coca-Cola’s own website, the title of the page about the drink is “Beverly- Love It or Hate It”, proving that at least its self aware. The drink is extremely bitter and also slightly herbal, and many people find it extremely unpleasant to drink. One of Beverly’s most successful market’s isn’t actually in Italy where it was sold, but at the various World of Coca-Cola museums, where there are tasting areas for people to try drinks that aren’t sold in their home countries. Because of its unique, slightly disgusting flavor, Beverly is one of the most popular of the taste testing drinks at the museums.
6. Sprite Remix
Like we saw earlier in this list with OK Soda, Coca-Cola likes to hop on to trends and try to make the concepts of its products relatable to the youth of the era so that they will increase sales. This was the case in 2003 when Coca-Cola decided to hop on to the DJ and remix trends of the early 2000s in order to catch the attention of young people by released a series of 3 flavours of Sprite Remixes. The lemon-lime flavoured soda, Sprite has existed in the United States since 1961 and is one of the most popular drinks from the Coca-Cola company, but obviously Coca-Cola decided it needed to be switched up a bit. Sprite Remix was a series of colorless and caffeine free drinks, and also a line of powder packets that could be poured in and mixed with normal Sprite to achieve the new flavour. Before the line of products was discontinued in 2005, Sprite Remix had released three flavours for each. For the drinks there was Tropical Remix, Berryclear Remix, and Aruba Jam Remix, and the powder packs came in grape, vanilla, and cherry flavors. The drinks were apparently actually quite good and people were delighted when Coca-Cola re-released the Tropical Remix flavor for a limited time in Spring of 2016, 11 years after the product was discontinued.
It’s well known that sodas aren’t the healthiest drinks, as they contain a high amount of sugars, carbs, and calories so it’s no surprise that some soda lovers would prefer a healthy carbonated drink. To hop on to the low-carb diet trend of the early 2000s, Coca-Cola released the Coca-Cola C2 in Japan in 2002, and in the United States in 2004. But the product wasn’t exactly what people wanted. C2 was marketed as having half of the carbs, calories, and sugar of normal Coca-Cola, which makes it fall somewhere halfway between classic Coke and Diet Coke. If someone wanted to drink a low calorie Coke, all they would have to do was drink some Coke Zero, a zero calorie version of Coke that entered the market at around the same time as C2 did. Having an option between diet and normal was a strange decision and it’s no wonder the sales weren’t living up to the expectations. Some people think that C2 was supposed to act as a some sort of transitional period to full diet soda, but let’s be real here, is it really that hard to make the switch? Apparently not, because Coca-Cola C2 was pulled off the shelves in 2007, three years after its release.
4. Coke Life
During the 2010s, the diet fad had shifted from people wanting to avoid carbs to people wanting to avoid sugar. And once again, Coca-Cola decided to hop on to the craze and create a new product that fit the mold. In 2014, Coca-Cola Life was released, a drink that looks like normal Coke but made with natural sweeteners instead of sugar. The drink also only contained 89 calories per can, rather than the usual 139 in normal Coke. The drink came in green packaging to signify that it was environmentally friendly or good for the health and all that other stuff we associate with the term “being green”. Because the drink contained 45% less sugar than normal Coke, you would assume that it makes it better for your health, but that is not the case here. The drink is sweetened with Steviol glycoside rather than sugar, which is a processed chemical derived from the Stevia plant and is definitely not the most natural option out there. Because it’s derived from a plant, Coca-Cola was able to advertise it as a healthy, natural option, when in reality it’s still a highly processed chemical. Many people did not approve of this, especially in the UK where the drink was discontinued in 2017 due to low sales.
3. Garlic Coke
Since around 2014, there’s been an image making its rounds around the Internet of a purple can of Coca-Cola with the word “garlic” on it. Accompanied with the image was text stating that the product was available in Romania, or occasionally other locations. Luckily though, this garlic flavoured Coke is a hoax created by photoshopping a purple can of Cherry Coke to say “garlic” instead. But many people believed the drink was real and were absolutely disgusted by the concept of it, so imagine their dismay if they were told that this drink actually does exist elsewhere, sort of. Aomori is a city known as the garlic capital of Japan due the large amount of garlic it harvests in July. The city’s released a variety of strange garlic flavored products such as ice cream and beer, but it decided it needed a new use for its extensive amount of garlic so it released a product called Jats Takkola. The drink is a type of cola similar to Coca-Cola that contains finely ground pieces of garlic. The drinker is advised to shake the drink well before consumption to make sure the garlic is well mixed in. I can’t imagine the taste is anything pleasant, but apparently the concoction is good for the heart, so maybe Coca-Cola should pick up the idea for its next health driven product.
2. Tab Clear
Tab was a soft drink manufactured by the Coca-Cola company starting in 196, and is still being sold today. It was Coca-Cola’s first ever diet soda and came out before the days of Diet Coke and Coke Zero. Like any successful Coca-Cola product, Tab needed to grow and add new flavours to its collection once the original was losing sales. In the 1990s, clear cola was all the rage so in 1992, Coca-Cola decided to release Tab Clear, a variation of normal Tab that was clear in colour while still tasting like the original. The drink was most likely released to compete with the clear soda of Coca-Cola’s biggest rival company, Pepsi. Except instead of trying to make its product more successful, Coca-Cola actually set out to destroy both of them in a strange kamikaze marketing strategy. Because Tab Clear was marketed as a diet drink, the company knew it would not be successful. When placed in stores near Crystal Pepsi, it would confuse customers into thinking that the clear Pepsi drink was also diet, causing it to lose sales. This self-destructing marketing actually worked and ended up causing Pepsi Crystal to be discontinued in 1993. So was Tab Clear, in 1994 but that was all a part of the plan.
The bacon flavored food trend has been going on for a while now, and there are all sorts of products on the market that throw bacon into foods that should never contain bacon. These include things like bacon vodka, bacon coffee, bacon mints (how would those even work?), bacon water, bacon chocolate, and more. So naturally, there should be a bacon flavoured Coke shouldn’t there? There’s been an image of a bacon flavoured Coca-Cola can making its way through the Internet for a while now but to the disappointment of bacon lovers everywhere, this product does not actually exist. Just like garlic Coke, this can is nothing but a photoshopped image of a normal Diet Coke can. However if you really do want to try a bacon flavoured soda, it does exist within companies like Jones Soda, Lockhart Smokehouse, and Rocket Fizz, but none of those are the same as a classic Coca-Cola soda. Considering the amount of trends we’ve seen Coca-Cola hop on to over the years, it’s not surprising that some people believed the bacon flavored Coke was the real thing. Maybe eventually it’ll be released, but until then, people will just keep having to photoshop their dreams of bacon Coke into reality.