CBC Digital Archives

1985: New Coke is it!

media clip
Just like at a wine tasting, the new version of an old soft drink is swirled around in fancy stemmed glasses. The verdict on New Coke sounds more like the latest vintages review. "Smoother, rounder, yet bolder," says Coca-Cola chair Roberto Goizueta in this CBC Television report about New Coke.

But one official "taster" is disappointed with the new formula. She says it's like the can has been left open in the fridge overnight -- flat and sickly sweet.

Changing the Coca-Cola formula is a big move for the conglomerate. The secret formula, kept locked away in an Atlanta bank vault, has remained exactly the same for nearly a century. In 1903, Coca-Cola changed its recipe because the soda had too much of the "real thing" -- cocaine.

Rival employees at Pepsi predict the change to Coke will turn out to be a big mistake. Pepsi even got a day off to celebrate Coke's gaffe.

Roger Enrico of Pepsico explains, "These two products, Pepsi and Coke, have been going at it eyeball-to-eyeball. And in my view the other just blinked."
• Consumer complaints about New Coke prompted the company to bring back the less sweet version three months later. Voting polls at malls, grocery stores and amusement parks found that most Canadians wanted old Coke back.
• The company reintroduced the old product but called it Coca-Cola Classic instead.
• Coca-Cola kept New Coke on the market. A year and a half after New Coke was introduced, the classic version outsold the new formula five to one.

• The new Coke v. old Coke debate amassed so much attention that some speculated introducing New Coke had been a planned marketing campaign.
• At the time, soft drinks rated as the most-consumed beverage in the United States. Coffee and beer came second and third respectively.
• In Canada, coffee was most popular, with milk ranking second, beer third and soft drinks fourth.

• Strict cola drinkers say the best way to imbibe the drink is to buy it by the bottle (never in a can or plastic bottle), refrigerate and pour slowly over ice into a wide-mouthed glass. Too much foam eliminates carbonation, which is bad, according to aficionados.
• In his book Big Secrets, William Poundstone claims Coke's ingredients are as follows: sugar, caramel, caffeine, phosphoric, coca leaf extract (with cocaine removed), cola nut extract, citric acid, sodium citrate, lemon, orange, lime, cassia and nutmeg oils.

Also on April 24:
1942: Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery dies at age 68 in Toronto.
1951: The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry wins a U.S. presidential citation for its efforts in repelling Chinese and North Korean forces in the Battle of Kapyong in South Korea.
2005: Benedict XVI is installed as Pope after celebrating an inaugural mass.
Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: April 24, 1985
Guest(s): Roger Enrico, David Lee
Host: Ann Medina
Duration: 2:07

Last updated: August 30, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Who cares about B.C. bud?

U.S. and Canadian cops battle the southward flow of marijuana from B.C. and the northward traf...