Diet Coke Shakes It Up

Judging by the time I have spent on this earth, I can count three sodas that people depend on. What do I mean by “depend” on? I mean drinks that people rely on multiple times per day for their liquid intake. They grab it in the morning, at lunch, before they go to sleep, and every possible time in between. When it comes to these soda addicts, two of the soft drink choices I have regularly seen people obsessed with are Dr. Pepper and Mt. Dew.

But there is another soft drink that trumps both DP and Dew in terms of people using it as their water. Unequivocally, there is no drink more popular than Diet Coke. I have met people who are rarely seen without a Diet Coke in their hand. I know individuals who will pour three cans into an oversized mug container and drink a few of them throughout the day. I can name folks who have enough Diet Coke stockpiled at their residences to last them what seems like a decade or two. The obsession is real.

It is because of this mania that I just figured the Coca-Cola Company would never need to expand its Diet Coke brand. Why tinker with a product that basically has a cult following of millions?

Needless to say, I am not being paid the big bucks to serve as a soft drink executive. Apparently, Coca-Cola believed it needed to “liven” up Diet Coke and they definitely made good on their intentions. Last week, the company introduced a line of Diet Coke fruit-flavored sodas. In addition to the original, you can now choose between flavors such as ginger lime, feisty cherry, and zesty blood orange.

Diet Coke is introducing new fruit flavored sodas.

And the new flavors won’t be differentiated simply by packaging regular Diet Coke cans with the signature script in a different color. These new flavors will come in tall slim cans with splashes of color covering the can. As one person said, they will be very “Instagrammable.”

So yes, I made it clear above that I didn’t think Diet Coke would or need to alter/expand its brand. But now that it has, I kind of like what it did. I was very critical of Coca-Cola’s decision to “change” the name of Coca-Cola Zero but I think this Diet Coke rollout makes a little more sense.

The company is unapologetically honest when explaining why it is introducing new Diet Coke flavors and it can be summed up in one word: millennials.

I get it. Targeting millennials these days is a very profitable business strategy. When done right, it can pay off with a significant return on investment. I think Coke is introducing a product that will appeal to this audience. Although I read one article in the Washington Post where the author said Coca-Cola is trying too hard to entice this coveted group, as a millennial myself, I kind of like the new Diet Coke launch.

For one, I do like a little fruit with my soda. I am a fan of the Coca-Cola freestyle machines and will typically add a shot of cherry or grape to my soft drink. I also think the fresh look is sleek and appealing. It just looks modern to me. In my mind, it reminds me exactly of the Red Bull expansion. Just like Diet Coke, Red Bull has a very distinctive brand and taste. The energy drink went out on a big limb when it offered fruit flavor twists on its signature taste. However, it yielded success. I think Diet Coke will experience similar results.

I have never figured out why Diet Coke tastes good to so many people so I won’t go out to the store to buy the new fruit flavors. However, I think this move has the chance to succeed. If you are one of my Diet Coke-loving readers, please let me know your thoughts. Don’t Blink.

When Coke Reaches Out To You On Twitter…

Yesterday evening, the Coca-Cola Twitter account reached out to me and expressed interest in using one of my tweets. Coke, a giant in both the beverage world and the social media world, wanted to use one of my tweets?

Yesterday, Coca-Cola reached out to me about using one of my tweets.

Umm, yes please!

Oh my, this could be good. But why would they want to use one of my tweets?…

Did they want to use my content for a brand new marketing campaign? Did they want to put one of my 140-character gems on a billboard? Did they just want to retweet my tweet to the company’s 3.3 million followers?

Unfortunately it wasn’t so glamorous. I had to direct message Coke with my consent to allow them to use my tweet. It was in this private conversation that they let me know their intentions for using my social media post.

Coca-Cola only wanted to use my tweet for “internal” purposes.

B-O-R-I-N-G. It turned out Coke only wanted to use my tweet for an “internal video.” To translate that for you, it means that the only “engagement” my tweet will be getting is on a Powerpoint slide viewed by about 12 people on the Coca-Cola marketing team. But in all honesty, although I had a glimmer of hope that Coke would actually use my tweet for something cool, I knew better.

You see, no company (unless you are Dominos) is going to use anything critical a consumer said/wrote/posted/ for the general public to see. Yep, the tweet that Coke asked my permission to use was a snarky comment I made about the new name given to one of its products.

I can’t blame Coke for not wanting to use my tweet for something a bit more prominent.

I think it is the worst name change in soft drinks since Mr. Pibb became Pibb Extra. To me, adding “Sugar” at the end of Coke Zero gives the wrong impression. When I read it, I notice the first two words (Coke Zero) followed by the last word (Sugar). Thus, to me, it is as if Coca-Cola is saying the drink is calorie-free (Coke Zero) with sugar added.

But my biggest complaint with the name was written right within the tweet. Why add a word to the name of diet soft drink? Especially a word that conjures up a lot of negativity to people who drink diet soda in the first place. Less is more.

Before I sign off, let me at least give Coca-Cola a little credit. I appreciate the fact that the company asked my permission to use my tweet even though just screen capturing it and using it “internally” for a dozen people to see would have been a lot easier. If I was a jerk, I would have asked for some free product in return. However, I thought better of it…they probably would have sent me Coke Zero Sugar. Don’t Blink.

A Weekend in Atlanta

After enjoying the lovely confines of the Atlanta airport probably no less than a dozen times in my life, I finally got to actually enjoy the city this past weekend. Sidney and I went on a short and sweet trip where we had the opportunity to watch a couple Braves games and partake in some other fun Atlanta activities.

On Saturday morning at 6 a.m. sharp we departed from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta. The six hour drive seemed about half that length and by noon we were pulling into downtown Atlanta. We checked into the Best Western Peachtree hotel and then started our exploration of the city. We looked around at some of the downtown tourist attractions and it was busy. A massive Jehovas Witness convention was taking place in Atlanta and many of those folks and their children were living up the city life. With lines much too long for some of the things we wanted to see we just strolled through Centennial Park, walked inside the CNN Center, and relaxed at the bar of an upscale seafood restaurant.

Me hanging out in Centennial Park.

Me hanging out in Centennial Park.

By that time we needed to start making our way to Turner Field. We utilized the city’s transportation system, the Marta, to take us to the hub of the station. From there we boarded a free shuttle that dropped us off right at the stadium. There is nothing in life I like more than walking into a Major League Baseball stadium for the first time. I was like a kid in a candy shop as we walked around Turner Field. We hung out in the center field restaurant/bar for a little bit and then we went over to the visiting team’s bullpen area and watched from that vantage point for a little bit. With the 4:10 p.m. first pitch approaching between the Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks, Sid and I went to our seats just past the first base line. Only a few rows up, we had spectacular seats.

I was so happy to be at Turner Field.

I was so happy to be at Turner Field.

We had an absolute blast watching the game. Although the Braves spotted the Diamondbacks a 3-0 first inning lead the home team buckled down and defeated Arizona 10-4. Although the seats were amazing, Sidney could have done with a little less sun. It was true, we were at the mercy of the strong Atlanta rays for pretty much the whole game. I lost a lot of liquid in the form of sweat by sitting in my seat but it never really bothered me too much because I was having such a good time. After the game we took public transportation back to the hotel and took much needed showers.

The sun beat down on us all game.

The sun beat down on us all game.

We marked our lone night in Atlanta by walking to the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. It was there that we took an elevator 73 stories up to a viewing center/bar area. Once on top we enjoyed gorgeous night views of the city. Sidney and I pointed out various buildings and landmarks. After hanging out in the rotating lounge area (it makes one complete full rotation every hour) we navigated the elevator back down to ground level.

Sidney and I were at the top of the city at the Sundial restaurant.

Sidney and I were at the top of the city at the Sundial restaurant.

The next morning I ate way too much of our hotel’s yummy hot breakfast. We then checked out and went back to the CNN Center where we purchased tickets to take the actual tour. At 9:40 a.m. we reported to a security checkpoint where we walked through a metal detector, rode up a huge escalator, and then started a tour of the world’s largest news organization. After the CNN tour we purchased some Braves gear at the team store in the CNN Center and then we walked across the street to the World of Coca-Cola where we took the tour there. Once we had tasted our fair share of Coke products we got back on the Marta and went to Turner Field for the 1:30 series finale between the Braves and Diamondbacks. I purchased a couple tickets from a scalper and we went back inside the stadium.

This photo is at the very start of the World of Coca-Cola tour.

This photo is at the very start of the World of Coca-Cola tour.

While I splurged for Saturday’s tickets, it was cheap seat mania for Sunday’s game. We sat in the upper deck although we were right behind home plate. Sidney and I had a very chill time just relaxing, eating ice cream, and watching baseball. We took the game in from high up and enjoyed all the in-game entertainment. However, we must had done something wrong as Atlanta’s nine game winning streak came to an end as the Diamondbacks defeated the Braves, 3-1. After the game we took the Marta back to the hub station and walked to our vehicle at the hotel and departed Atlanta. Just 42 hours after setting out on our adventure we arrived back in Myrtle Beach at midnight.

A look at where we sat for the second game we watched.

A look at where we sat for the second game we watched.

A little more info about Turner Field, CNN, and Coca-Cola…

Turner Field – As I sat in Turner Field I kept thinking how cool it was that I was in the stadium that housed the Summer Olympics. With that said, the place is completely converted to a baseball facility so it is difficult to picture it as a multipurpose Olympic complex. What will really jump out to you about Turner Field is the video board. It is HUGE, by far the largest I have seen at a MLB park. Although not high def, it was entertaining to watch. Every seat in the park is great and getting in and out of the stadium is a breeze. As for the fan experience the Braves are obsessed with the Tomahawk Chop. Turner Field will cue the chant over and over and over again…but it was fun. The seventh inning stretch song is “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The team has a stadium host that runs promotions involving fans from a designated spot in the ballpark which leaves a little to be desired. Overall Turner Field is a wonderful ballpark. I am glad I got to see it before the team leaves for a new facility in 2017.

Turner Field is a great ballpark.

Turner Field is a great ballpark.

CNN Tour – As a news junkie who has a fascination with live television, I knew from the start that I wanted to do the CNN tour. A 55 minute guided walking tour we got to see the inner workings of both CNN and HLN. We saw a model control room, studios, newsroom floor, weather forecasting technology, and much more. Throughout the tour we passed large photos of major personalities such as Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and Robin Meade. The highlight of the tour came when we got to see CNN anchor Victor Blackwell finish up a segment. When he finished he waved to us (we were standing behind glass) and then he actually came around to where we were at and said hi! It was pretty sweet. Sidney and I got a really cool picture sitting behind the CNN anchor desk.

The CNN tour was very interesting.

The CNN tour was very interesting.

Coca-Cola Tour – Although more of a Pepsi fan myself, I still love Coca-Cola history. During this tour we saw some really cool Coke memorabilia and mementos. We also saw very interesting displays and exhibits including how Coke is bottled. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the absolute coolest part was the soda tasting session at the conclusion of the tour. Upon exiting you get to enter an area with seven stations where you can drink soft drinks until your heart explodes. The seven stations represent the seven continents and at each station there are several sodas that represent the various countries of that particular continent. You are free to take generous sized cups and fill it with the different sodas. I tried everything from watermelon pop to discontinued Coke products to a blueberry selection. After you passed the continent stations you could enter a section where they had about ten different taps just serving classic Coca-Cola. On your way out they even give you a glass bottle of Coke that was bottled on site. The Coke tour was AWESOME and I highly recommend that anyone who visits Atlanta takes time to do it.

The Coca-Cola tour was a blast. I recommend that anyone who visits Atlanta makes time to do it.

The Coca-Cola tour was a blast. I recommend that anyone who visits Atlanta makes time to do it.


What a great weekend it was in Atlanta. Sidney and I crammed a lot in and really enjoyed the city. I love exploring the South and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. In fact, I am already planning my next trip. Don’t Blink.

Would I Drink a Dr. Skipper/Mt.Breeze/Fountain Mist?

A couple days ago a co-worker told me about the neat collection his brother had. This guy made it his mission to purchase every generic Dr. Pepper soda he could find. You know what I am talking about, right? The knockoffs of Dr. Pepper that grocery stores or sketchy companies sell such as Dr. Skipper, Dr. Bold, Dr. Thunder, etc. I found this idea absolutely awesome, a truly unique collection that I give this guy two thumbs up for deciding to undertake. Personally I also enjoy checking out the bizarre names that are assigned to impostor products. Since arriving on the east coast my interest has only intensified as I been introduced to whole different lines of second rate brands.

But although I enjoy looking at these silly soda brands I don’t enjoy drinking them. I very rarely consume soft drinks and when I do I prefer a premium brand thank you very much. About 14 months ago I wrote a blog post on generic items I would purchase and generic items I would not purchase. Soda made the NOT list. Even so, back when I was a kid I did drink the rip off sodas that you could get out of your grocery store vending machine for a quarter. And, even then, I could detect the drop in quality. To this day I can still remember the taste of those junior varsity pops. Tonight I want to briefly identify three sodas that actually tasted like the premium brand it was trying to mimic and three brands that missed the mark so bad that it wasn’t even funny.


Orange Soda – Give me a glass of a carbonated orange drink and call it good. Out of the three sodas I am giving credit to as having a resemblance to the name brand, orange soda by far comes the closest. You could throw three knockoffs in with Fanta, Orange Crush, and Sunkist and chances are I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I think orange pop lacks a signature, expensive ingredient (like real oranges) because you really can’t tell much of a drop off between brands.

Root Beer – In my blog post that I referenced above I said that root beer in the generic version tastes flat. I still stand by that but I think A&W and Mug sometimes taste a little flat too. I could make a root beer float with any type of root beer and I am pretty sure I would be happy.

Lemon-Lime Soda – When it comes to sodas such as 7-UP, Sierra Mist, and Sprite I think the generic versions do a fairly decent job of matching up. I think the lemon-lime taste is pretty universal and easy for companies you have never heard of before to replicate. If I drank soda and if I didn’t care that my friends thought I was a cheapskate I might consider buying an imitator if it meant saving a couple dollars.


Mt. Dew – I am listing this soda in its brand name form because I know of no other drink that even comes close to its taste. Whatever competitors Coca-Cola has tried to introduce over the years to battle Mt. Dew have failed. So if Coke can’t succeed you can only imagine what the generic brands come up with. Did you actually imagine something? If you did downgrade that version by 10x and you got what rip off Mt. Dew tastes like. The actual taste of these products is worse than the silly Mountain ________ (insert anything) names they are labeled with. I never tasted an imitator that even entered the ballpark of what Dew tastes like. By a long shot, Mt. Dew wannabes take the cake for tasting nothing like its intended product.

Cola – Knockoff colas are bad…real bad. You know how I describe the taste of a cola that isn’t Pepsi or Coke? Dirty tasting. Drinking some of these sodas made me realize why the two giants spend billions both on developing their formula and keeping it a secret. Drinking non-premium cola seriously gave me a headache back when I was younger. Do you want to torture your most hated enemy? Force WARM generic cola down his throat…pretty sure there isn’t a crueler punishment than that.

Dr. Pepper – Not only do knockoff Dr. Peppers taste flat they also taste like crap. With generic brands you lose the smooth taste of DP and replace it with a nasty aftertaste. Besides diet sodas that some people drink as if it kept them young, Dr. Pepper is the second most popular soda that I actually see people live on as their primary liquid. If you were to ever steal the mug or Big Gulp container of someone who is dependent on Dr. Pepper and switched it out with Dr. Shasta I am 95% sure that person would die the moment the fluid touched the lips.


In summary, don’t drink soda. But if you must, try to stick with something made by Pepsi or Coke. If you are going to fill your body with carbonation and sugar you might as well do it via the companies that actually specialize in it. Don’t Blink.