Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Coca-Cola Freestyle

I'm sure you've seen one by now.

Coca-Cola Freestyle, the big red and white soda machine that can dispense over 125 combinations of Coke products/flavors. The first time I saw one, the concept blew me away. It was the greatest idea ever.

Then I tasted the soda.

Here's what every single drink that comes out of a Coca-Cola machine tastes like: ass. Every flavor and product have a distinctive "Freestyle" ass-taste. It's so bad that I've now started avoiding places I used to eat at frequently because they installed Freestyle machines.

Last week, I went to a restaurant I haven't eaten at in over six months because they have Freestyle machines now, and while I was having my snack, I saw a technician working on the Freestyle machine.

"Hey, do you mind if I ask you some questions about Freestyle?" I asked.

"Sure!" he said. Friendly type.

"I really like the idea of these machines in concept, but the flavor--"

"I won't drink anything that comes out of these machines," he said.

"That's what I was going to say," I said. "I'm glad it's not just me."

"It's not," he said. "I have people come up all the time and tell me they hate it. I don't like how it tastes, either. Something is off. They all taste wrong."

"You could line up ten drinks from five different soda fountains and five Freestyle machines, and I could pick out every one of the Freestyle drinks immediately," I said.

"I can, too," he said.

"So why are they pushing this so hard?" I asked.

"The executives are in love with the idea," he said. "And they spent a ton of money developing it. It's a good idea, but they need to tweak the flavor. The mix isn't right yet."

He talked for a while about some of the technological innovation in the machine, and it's a pretty amazing piece of tech. It standardizes flavor--the flavor of ass, unfortunately--to a much, much greater degree than was possible previously. Plus, if I understood the tech correctly, it would be possible for Coca-Cola to push software updates that would change the flavor profile/mix of every installed machine at the same time.

Here's what blows me away, though: wouldn't you think those executives would have actually tasted the soda? I don't see how anyone could taste what actually comes out of the machine and be satisfied. It's far less sweet, for one, and there's some kind of funky carbonation or something that creates a distinctive after-taste. How could they not notice that?

Sales of soft drinks have been dropping steadily for a while now, and guess what, Coca-Cola? This isn't going to help.

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