Perhaps one of the darkest days in soft drink history occurred on April 23, 1985, when a true American icon was altered beyond all recognition. Yes, this is the day that Coca-cola announced to the world that it was changing its formula. And for traditionalists, It’s a day that will live in infamy.
Why, you may ask, would the company tamper with one of the most recognized and beloved products in the world? The simple answer is…paranoia. Pepsi was gaining a bigger share of the market and the execs at Coca-Cola got nervous. Thinking that the public would prefer a sweeter soft drink, they replaced good ol’ sucrose with high fructose corn syrup. While some certainly welcomed the change, many diehard Coke fans were livid, especially Southerners, who took great pride in their homegrown soft drink. Negative responses came from everyone from the Chicago Tribune to Fidel Castro, who called the new drink “a sign of American capitalist decadence.” Meanwhile, the folks over at Pepsi couldn’t have been happier:
Within three months, the company was realizing it had made a serious error in judgment, and on July 10, 1985, they announced the return of the original formula, which would be now know as “Coca-Cola Classic.” The only problem was, it really wasn’t the original formula, as the high fructose corn syrup remained in place of sugar, but was dialed back a notch to reduce the sweetness and make the product closer to how people remembered it. Today, if you want a better idea of what Coca-Cola originally tasted like, you should hunt down one of those glass bottles that come from Mexico. They still use sucrose and one sip will bring you back to the glory days of Coca-Cola. Hopefully, with the popularity of throwback sodas from Pepsi and Mountain Dew, Coke will eventually jump on the bandwagon and re-introduce a sugared version of their soft drink. When that day comes, Coca-Cola can once again call itself “The Real Thing.”
How well do you remember the introduction of New Coke? Were you a loyalist, appalled that someone would tamper with such an iconic beverage, or were you in the minority that preferred the new flavor? Do you indulge in the Mexican version from time to time, to remember just how good a sugary Coke once tasted? Share your memories of Coca-Cola, both old and new, with all of us in our comments section, as we look back on a tragic day in soft drink history.