Column: Berries and new colors will fly as full-scale cola war begins

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 21, 2002

&uot;Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore.&uot; &045; Billy Joel, &uot;We Didn’t Start the Fire,&uot; 1989

Another Cola War is looming on the horizon. Last week Coca-Cola unveiled their latest concoction, Vanilla Coke. From my understanding, their aim was to replicate an old-fashioned soda fountain taste, thereby giving them an edge in their century-old battle with rival cola giant Pepsi.

Mere days before the “Vanilla Bomb” hit the streets, Pepsi announced their plans to capture the highly coveted teen market by launching a new flavor of their own &045; Pepsi Blue, due out this summer. From early reports, blue seems to describe the color and the flavor of the new soft drink. According to various sources on the Internet, Pepsi Blue will be approximately the color of Windex and the flavor will be “a fusion of berry and cola flavors.”

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New flavors are a typical weapon on the soft drink battlefield, but changing the color is used in dire circumstances only. This will mark the second time Pepsi has resorted to actually changing the color of a soft drink. In the Battle of the Clear Beverages during the early 1990s, Pepsi launched the highly forgettable Crystal Pepsi, in regular and diet varieties, with disastrous results.

The problem with Cola War II is that it will not be limited to the colas. There is evidence of other soft drinks preparing for war. 7-UP is currently field-testing 7-UP Tropical Splash in Canada. It would be nave for us to think they won’t launch it here. Remember, they were the ones who instigated the Battle of the Clear Beverages during the 1990s, shattering their holier-than-thou “Uncola” image. As The Who once sang, we won’t be fooled again.

Even Dr Pepper is rallying to the cause, preparing to launch their Red Fusion cherry soda this summer. The name of the product alone is intimidating, and there is sufficient evidence to believe they will use it, too. In the western part of the United States, they distribute the Frankenstein of soft drinks, Dr Slice. If they are willing to amalgamate different soft drinks, they are not beyond using Communist atomic-sounding beverages. They should just take the final step and rename themselves Mad Dr Pepper, laughing maniacally when Red Fusion hits.

I just wonder if Dr Pepper has an alliance with Mountain Dew, who two years ago introduced Code Red. Maybe “Code Red” was not just a soft drink, but a signal as well. Mad doctors, Frankenstein experiments, secret codes and Red Fusion? They kind of all go together, don’t they?

Even the normally docile Mello Yello seems to be readying for battle. They have recently launched two new flavors &045; a previously unheard of watermelon flavor, and the requisite cherry flavor. The only problem is that Mello Yello appears to be somewhat inexperienced in Cola Warfare. Both of these soft drinks are still named Mello Yello, despite the fact that they are artificially colored green and red, respectively. They should have named them something more impressive, like Yellin’ Melon and Scary Cherry.

I don’t understand the trend with all these new fruit-flavored sodas. We used to be happy with Crush, the original fruit-flavored soda. There were only three flavors: orange, strawberry and grape. That was it. They held their ground against competitors Sunkist and Slice. Now in some areas, Crush has lemon, peach and cherry flavors. They even have Lime Crush in Canada. Can Rhubarb Crush or Pomegranate Crush be far off? And speaking of Crush, if any soft drink is aptly named for war, this is the one.

I just wonder what kind of weaponry Cola War II will eventually see. Every war uses more destructive weapons than the last. If either side decides to involve alcohol, the soft drinks will make their way to the liquor stores as well as the supermarkets. We may actually see Rum ‘n’ Coke, Crown Royal and Royal Crown, or maybe even Pina Coca-Colada. If, however, they unleash a “Two Doctors” using Dr Pepper and Dr McGillicuddy’s Mentholmint Schnapps, it will be time to end the war and give peace a chance.

Dustin Petersen is an Albert Lea resident. His column appears Tuesdays.