Monday, May 14, 2007

Coke It Is

The Monday morning routine is like any other day, except moreso, because it’s Monday. I cannot eat or drink before I get on the subway, so part of the routine is to pick up a muffin and a can of Diet Coke on the way in to work.

Yes, Diet Coke for breakfast. I love the smell of coffee, but I have a strange reaction to it: it makes me deeply thirsty in an uncomfortable way. But Coke—it sparkles and quenches. When it’s fresh, it’s a wildly satisfying, refreshing, truly rejuvenating elixir. It’s magical, cool liquid caffeine that snaps the brainpower into action. The day brightens and comes into focus as the bubbles trip over the tongue.

But there are Mondays when there is no Diet Coke on the shelf in the two places my feet are programmed to hit in the morning. And it happens fairly often.

The insult to this injury is the plethora of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi sitting on those shelves—completely untouched. Can upon can, bottle upon bottle, row upon row. Do the managers not get it: this is a Coke town, baby. They could easily double the Coke order, so when the delivery is delayed, there would still be bright silver and red cans available.

I have never met a Pepsi drinker in my life. Who are those people? In the double-blind taste tests in the 80s, more people chose Pepsi, but when the test drinks were labeled, Coke won, driven by brand loyalty.

I don’t believe in brand loyalty—something works for you or it doesn’t, and you’re loyal to your own reactions. How can anyone not tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi? They don’t taste anything alike. Pepsi is much sweeter—even on the diet side. It is cloying; end of story. (I do like the Pepsi commercial, especially the ones that are specifically about those fictional people choosing Pepsi over Coke.)

I know Coke can eat the paint off of cars. I know the mega-multinational has serious labor issues in Colombia and environmental issues in India, all detailed in the movement/website Killer Coke. It’s not all the fun and games of Cagney’s great turn as Coke’s man in West Berlin in One, Two, Three.

I’m a little surprised how current Coke remains throughout our culture: there was a piece in Slate this weekend, from Tim Harford, their Undercover Economist, about price rigidity and Coca Cola. Did you know that Coke cost 5 cents for nearly 70 years--from 1886 to 1959.

Coca Cola is a phenomenon from every angle. The company’s 2005 annual report states “of the more than 50 billion beverage servings of all types consumed worldwide every day, beverages bearing the trademarks owned by or licensed to Coca-Cola account for approximately 1.3 billion.”

So I’m one in 1.3 billion. It’s nice to be part of a group.

Update: So now it's Friday. And I'm sitting here with a stinking can of Diet Pepsi, because my two programmed morning delis are out of Diet Coke. I may have to start bringing my own . . .


Tim Footman said...

Does anybody in real life use the phrase "beverage serving"?

Incidentally, why can you not eat or drink before getting on the subway? Is it a religious thing.

M.A.Peel said...

Tim, Catholicism asks a lot of people, but subway abstinence isn't one of them. It's the crowds, heat, jostling, smells, lack of air of rush hour subway travel. Can only do it on empty stomach.