Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Coke Machine to Blow Minds

Yea, I know the cool kids all drink water out of their Swiss made European bottles but I still enjoy a high fructose filled carbonated beverage full with artificial flavoring from time to time and I can only imagine what will happen when I stumble upon one of these new Freestyle Coke Machines.

The first time I took notice of the Freestyle was near the end of the CNBC doc Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing, while these docs are often shills for the companies they are nonetheless very interesting and full of unique access to these mega-behemoth corporations. Near the end they showcased the Freestyle as part of their innovations, much like a car company with their concept cars that never actually materialize since they are too cool looking and too unique for mass consumption so that uniqueness often gets shaved down till the model is the usual recognizable machine with a little hint of the concept.

According to a Fast Company post, the Freestyle machines have had their test runs and will finally be rolled out little by little, although I imagine these things are pretty pricey and will avoid the most "urban areas" even though I think they re-popularized the Arnold Palmer. The freestyle is a machine featuring 104 Coke flavors that can be mixed at the behest of the user.

I don't know about you but I have always enjoyed the look of classic vending machines. They are the sign of the times they come out of and I stumbled upon a little video of the history of Coke machines.

I can see many issues with the new machines like people's inate indecisiveness, slowing down the beverage pumping factory, when faced with this enormous amount of choice and probably defaulting back to just a standard drink. But still, I enjoy the return of the fountain style vending machine. I remember as a kid loving to order a drink out of the vending machine with the ice coming down followed by the brown syrupy goodness of fountain. Bottled is boring and I rarely will get a soda in a bottle but at a restaurant, if I see Mr. Pibb (a rarity up here in the Northeast), a cup will be ordered.

The machine works its magic through inkjet like cartridges of highly concentrated versions of its drinks which are then dispensed depending on the patrons flavor selection. While I was unable to find a full list of the flavors available, there are sure to be some regional varieties and various different things you might have never imagined, one blog mentioned Orange Coke & Raspberry Sprite, neither which sound appetizing to me. I'm thinking of a magical combination of Strawberry Fanta & Sprite. Strawberry soda and Birch beer are my true weaknesses, but I will not be mixing them together.

Although not of the Coke stable yet, my favorite carbonated beverage has been for the last decade Boylan's Creamy Red Birch Beer and I get very upset when people ask the difference between it and regular old Root Beer. Try a Mug Root Beer and then get a bottle of Boylan's Red and if you can't taste the difference, then you're taste buds are missing. For one, Boylan, only uses cane sugar, you can taste the difference like when they put out those retro Pepsis and the formula was created in the turn of the 20th century in Paterson NJ, only miles away from my home. Paterson is a very interesting place with a very important lost history as well. That's a story for another day.

Back to the Freestyle, I am very intrigued to give this machine a whirl and hope run across one this summer. Most likely, they are going to be at big movie theaters and theme parks as just another attraction along with all the other loud noises and flashing lights but I appreciate the effort Coke is making in at least trying something new, and giving their drinkers the choice of which kind of toxic flavored non-alcoholic beverage mixture to imbibe.

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