Coca Cola Freestyle and the Loss of Soda’s Innocence


One of the two most recognized words in the world is “Coke.” Regardless of language Coca-Cola is understood almost universally. “OK” is the other word, but it’s far less relevant to this soft-drink aficionado. A few years ago I visited the home of “Coke” here in Atlanta at the World of Coca-Cola, a soda museum that ends in a maze of international fountain drinks. There I sampled the Coke products of the world and only became a prouder American (no offense, Italy, but your so-call soda “Beverly” tastes like bitter alcohol that somehow makes you more sober,) at least until I came to a new marvel of vending science called the Coca-Cola Freestyle. The Freestyle, for those who have yet to encounter it, is a touch screen machine stocked with every on-brand drink product you can name and some that you probably cannot. Touch your parent product, say Sprite, then touch a sub product, say Cherry Sprite, and out of the spicket comes Cherry-Lemon-Lime goodness on tap. It brings the power of choice with the freedom to mix and match and throws in an ice machine for good measure! Awesome, yes?

No. It sucks. Like the exotic Beverly overseas, I have grown to hate this carbonated contraption–this repellent robot–this POX of the house of POP!

First, my life is now being wasted watching indecisive newbs search the catalogue of flavors they would never drink at home only to land on something as literally and figuratively vanilla as Coke Vanilla. Like “Sweet Brown” Wilkins used to say, ain’t nobody got time for that. Ten seconds wasted here, a minute there, tallied at the end of my life could very well add up to entire days wasted on this planets for a *%$!ing vending machine! Add up the time all of humanity will spend tapping on drink icons and we will lose the collective productivity that might one day be needed to take to the stars. Climate change and the Armageddon meteor won’t wait forever to kill us, people. We need to get moving and this isn’t helping!

Second, it’s a communal touchscreen! I’m not a germophobe, but I know how my iPad looks on a high grease day and it’s not pretty. I’m surprised the Purell generation gave this a pass…but hey, Whopping Cough is coming back so…good luck with that.

Third, let’s be honest, when the novelty wears off we just really want a coke. There’s a reason “Coke” is the most recognized word in the world and not “Fanta.” If not a coke, we want a Sprite or a Mr. Pibb or some other STANDARD DRINK ALREADY AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE! The thing is, I can’t just have a coke anymore. The guy ahead of me just poured himself a Raspberry/Grape/Chicken & Waffles flavored Powerade and now I can’t get that taste out of the pipes! No amount of water will clear out citrus, leaving me with a flavored cola whether I want it or not.

This rant is far too little too late, the march of “progress” is rolling out Freestyles everywhere. Many of my favorite chains like Zaxby’s and Firehouse Subs now use them. I wish I could say that I plan to boycott these restaurants, but then this would be my last post as I would shortly die of starvation. I just had to get this off my chest and out of my taste buds. At least I’ll always have Pepsi.


Well, crap.