This article is a slight re-write of my May 17, 2002 column
with elements from my old school February 25, 2000 column.

I only put it here because I have nothing else new to write about right now. Thanks for understanding!


Vanilla Coke ... and what else is wrong with the soda industry.

So this week I've finally gotten around to trying the new Vanilla Coke. And I actually like it.

See, I've been royally pissed at the whole Coca-Cola Company as of late. I'm not a big soda drinker, not by any means. But I do enjoy my Mr. Pibb.

"What is Mr. Pibb?" you might ask. Mr. Pibb is the Coca-Cola Company's brand of Dr. Pepper. Kinda. I personally think that it's ten-hundred times better, but that just might be me. Sadly it's a tough bird to find, we have it here in Southern California, but only at fountains, not in cans or bottles. It was back in 1994 when I was in high school that I first found Mr. Pibb, that and Mello Yello were only 39 cents a 16 oz bottle. For a high school kid that's like heaven on earth, really.

So if Coca-Cola is bottling this sweet nectar of the Gods, then why am I not happy with them? Last month I read on the Coca-Cola website that they're replacing Mr. Pibb. With Pibb Xtra - "a bolder taste to match your lifestyle".

Waitaminute - just how do they know the "boldness" of my lifestyle?!?

"In 2001, Pibb Xtra was introduced in Houston and Dallas with an intense flavor kick -- a bolder version of the original taste. Its bold taste and graphics appeal to young adults who are looking to get the most out of life and the most out of their soft drink. Based on its tremendous success in Texas, Pibb Xtra will replace Mr Pibb across the U.S. in 2002."

For a minute they actually had me there. "Maybe my life could use a little bolding. I have been looking to add a little boldiosity to my day ..."

But no, this is just bullshit. The Coca-Cola Company has a problem with Mr. Pibb's market share. Mr. Pibb is a niche cola. My problem with Coke is that they're the ones responsible - in most markets Coca-Cola bottlers license Dr. Pepper. (Contrary to popular belief Dr. Pepper isn't owned by Pepsi, it's actually owned by the Cadbury Schweppes group, who also own 7-Up). But in some markets Pepsi licenses Dr. Pepper, so Coke can't. Thus they made up Mr. Pibb.

Mr. Pibb's never going to be national brand, because in most markets Coke doesn't even bottle it.

The Top Ten Sodas by Market Share (2001)

From Beverage Digest

This chart is somewhat misleading, however, Dr. Pepper has a 6.2% market share nationally, whereas Mr. Pibb has somewhere around a 0.3% market share. But that's because Coca-Cola bottlers are distributing Dr. Pepper and helping it grow!

So Coke's replacing my favorite soda because it has a poor market share, yet they're propigating this low number by bottling the competition?!?

See what my problem is?

So I've started auditioning new sodas, and have (temporarily) moved onto Vanilla Coke now.

Why only temporarily? And why move on at all?

Well, I'm just not a bold guy. I'm competely the antithesis of bold. Mellow. Chill. Relaxed. I think that Pibb Xtra will clash with my personality. And I don't do well with things that clash with my awesome personality. Awesome, I tells ya.

And why temporarily? In a perfect world Pibb Xtra will fail and Mr. Pibb will make a huge, triumphant return. Bigger and .. dare I say, "bolder" than before.

If not, well, temporarily because there's always the chance Vanilla Coke may get (bad pun ahoy) canned. Sent the way of "New Coke". Of "Pepsi Clear". Of "Clarence's Sweet Potato Pie Cola".

I'd pick Mello Yello, but that's harder to find than Mr. Pibb! (Mello Yello is Coke's Mtn. Dew knock-off.)

That also grinds my ax. Coke owns Mello Yello, they bottle it, yet then they go an create Surge. It's just a green Mello Yello!! Why go to all of the trouble to create and maintain two of the same soda?

If I were Coke I'd just market and advertise the sodas which I have, and not worry about replacing Mr. Pibb or creating anything new. But, oh no, they've gone in the other direction.

But honestly and for reals, I'm holding out for the new Pepsi Blue. Yup. The same week Coca-Cola introduced Vanilla Coke to the world Pepsi-Cola North America announced Pepsi Blue, a blue-colored, berry-flavored extension of its trademark Pepsi, coming this summer. Pepsi Blue is the latest in a string of new sodas Pepsi-Cola has introduced in the past two years to boost lackluster sales. Other recent additions include Sprite/7-Up knock-off Sierra Mist, the lemon-flavored Pepsi Twist and red-flavored Mountain Dew Code Red.

And I love things that are blue, especially foodstuffs. Gatorade, Jell-o, those frozen ice pops that are thin and really long and taste like snow? Yeah. Those.

I'm holding out big-time for Pepsi Blue. Can't wait.

But if that turns out to be crap, there's always Dr. Pepper's Red Fusion and SoBe's Mr. Green. No, I'm not making this up. It's just too good.

Dr. Pepper's Red Fusion, coming in July, has "a variety of fruit flavors, including the basic flavor profile of Dr. Pepper," whatever that means. I think it's just a rip off of Mountain Dew Code Red.

Meanwhile, Pepsi's SoBe just introduced Mr. Green, a dark green-colored soda which has a taste reminiscent to Dr. Pepper. Everyone's just ripping off everyone else, it seems.

Rumor has it that Sprite Remix is in the, well, mix, for summer, as well.

So now I lose my favorite soda and gain five or six rip-offs of sodas that I already don't drink. It's going to be a long summer.

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Last Updated on: June 14, 2002

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