Being The Haunting Tale of
|I've been enjoying RC Cola
for more years than I can count, and I owe it all to Coke! Y'see, I've been
a pop drinker (or soda, if you prefer) since I was a kid. At first, I wasn't
very fussy. Any pop would do; heck, even Kool-Aid was acceptable as a pseudo-pop.
I was a teenager before my taste began to refine and I settled into a routine
of drinking Pepsi -- ugh, yeah, but I was still mostly just a kid. After
a couple years in the Pepsi Generation, however, I saw the light, got tired
of the bubble-gum flavor and switched to Dad's Root Beer. Ah yes, there's
a hearty beverage for ya...but after awhile, even good old Dad's reveals
itself to be cloyingly sweet and A&W's wasn't any better. Root beer just
wasn't made to be sealed up in a bottle or can; if you can't get it
fountain-style, don't bother.
So I went over to 7Up and joined the UnCola
crowd, having an occasional BubbleUp or Canada Dry when 7Up wasn't available.
Soon, that wasn't doing it for me, either. I even became a Pepper for awhile,
searching in vain for that magical formula that would be able to carry me
through life, but the good Dr is also mostly sugar-sweetness rather than
flavor, and that was something I just couldn't tolerate for very long. I
was becoming An Adult, and I was desperate. A decision had to be made if
I expected my life to be worth anything! So I did it...I reached for a
As teens, my friends and
I would hang out at the "soda shoppe," which in this case was a drug store
with a fountain counter. We'd head there after school and suck down a malt
or cherry Coke or a Green River. The cherry Coke was carbonated water mixed
with Coca-Cola syrup and splashed with maraschino cherry juice, but I still
don't know what was in the Green River.
|Then the health industry
began getting some heavy press, and all the cola companies rushed to come
out with a caffeine-free version to prove they were health-conscious. Suddenly,
there was Pepsi Free and RC 100 and Caffeine-Free Coke, the latter of which
I just had to try out for the heck of it. And hey -- it was better than
regular Coke! Quite joyfully, I eschewed the red labels for the gold, and
things remained that way for a time.
RC lineup back when all the pop companies were still using glass. The plastic
is lighter to carry around and easier to dispose of, but nothing tastes as
good coming out of plastic or aluminum. ::sigh::
|Was it one year? Two? I
don't rightly recall, but it really wasn't very long. The health industry
quit harping on caffeine and very quietly, all the caffeine-free sodas were
vanishing from store shelves. One week you could buy it, the next week it
just wasn't there. After some desperate searches, the truth became clear:
some secret agreement had been reached by the beverage makers and no one
was making decaffeinated versions anymore!
The photo below shows the
RC Cola bottle-shape I've liked best over the years.
|My idyllic existence was shattered,
and with a heavy heart, I returned to straight Coke...but it never was quite
the same after that and I almost thrust all pop out of my life forever. I
began drinking Nestea as my primary beverage. It was tart, tangy and easy
to take along when travelling. But I did gravitate back to Coke after
Then the Cola Wars began brewing something fierce. Coke and Pepsi battled it out on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. They fought for every pop machine, can or cup visible on any movie set, and they fought for the right to place their logos in the most prominent locations on everything from billboards to T-shirts. Their commercials began putting each other down -- by name, not mere inference to "other brands." Food establishments were bound to exclusive clauses (that continue today) that restricted them from selling one brand of soda product if they were already selling the other. (Saturday Night Live memorialized this with its "No Pepsi -- Coke" and "No Coke -- Pepsi" routines.) And in an extremely bold, unprecedented and astoundingly foolish move...Coke changed its formula to taste more like... (gasp!) ...Pepsi!
|It must have been pretty easy adding
two cups of sugar and a hunk of bubble gum to every bottle to accomplish
the task, but there it was: the New Coke, and for a luckless consumer, it
had to be reckoned with.
|At first, it was a matter of scouting
out stores that still had old (real) Coke stock. That road would have
led down the same dead-end as with the caffeine-free version except for one
small saving grace: the Coca-Cola company realized its tremendous lack of
judgment and was rushing to return the real Real Thing (now to
be called Classic Coke) back to the stores, and it was to reside alongside
New Coke. In an attempt to save face, they tried to claim it had been their
plan all along, to give everyone a choice....uh-huh. And just how long did
that precious New Coke hang around, hmm?
|I'd had enough, and somewhere
along the way around that time, I began bringing home the Royal Crown, the
one that consistently beat the others in the taste tests (even my own), the
one that just kept chugging along during the Cola Wars minding its own business
and delivering a good product (though perhaps that statement should be qualified
by mentioning the late RC 100 and the MIA Cherry RC). It was an awesome change
for me to make, a stupendous life change -- but I don't really remember offhand
how exactly or when the switch took place. It was a grand move, though, and
long overdue. I'd finally done it: I'd achieved Pop Nirvana!
That's my story.* I've been free ever since.
*Please don't take this telling as historical fact. I could easily have many of the facts skewed or misremembered, including those that relate to the sequence of events I experienced. (Did I do UnColas prior to or after being a Pepper??) The import of where those experiences brought me is true, as is the final result.
Of course, the Cola Wars continue relentlessly.
|Voice in the Night
(featuring the RC Cola Story)
This is the closest to an "official" RC site as I've found on the web. Includes the history of RC Cola, collection of ad slogans, a look at the company's recent other ventures and more.
Successful media strategy for promotion of RC in Indonesia.
PopSoda: RC Cola
Why not sit back and let your mouse do the shopping?
Bret Lott Remembers RC
Tantalizing excerpt from a journal manuscript of a man who grew up behind the scenes of RC Cola.
Yahoo Finance - NYSE: TRY
Stock exchange overview of Triarc.
Olliver's Unofficial RC Cola Web Page
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