In 2009, you opened happiness. In 2014 you shared a Coke. Over the past month, you may have even had one or two to celebrate the Winter Olympics. Now, there are two more reasons to indulge in America's favorite soda. In a press release Wednesday, one of the world's largest beverage companies announced two new Coca-Cola flavors will begin to be available, starting this week. The first flavor innovation to be released in the United States since Vanilla Coke in 2002, Coca-Cola Georgia Peach and Coca-Cola California Raspberry are the company's take on the increasingly popular specialty-crafted soda.
With each beverage containing actual fruit flavoring from their namesake sources, the new variations are part of an attempt at fulfilling customers' desires for more openness about where the food and drinks they consume are sourced from, according to the press release. Lillian Norton, the senior branch manager of Coca-Cola Innovation explained in the post, "We know that our consumers want more transparency. They want clear ingredient information, and they’re seeking out more local products. They’re shopping local, and eating local. So we wanted to allow people to experience some unique local flavors no matter where they live in the United States."
Coca-Cola reportedly worked with upwards of 9,500 soda drinkers to choose the newest flavor innovations. According to Norton, after experimenting with around thirty possible options initially, "... peach and raspberry floated to the top."
Much of the inspiration for the newest innovations lies is the beverage's roots. Thirsty customers were not always able to go grab a Coke at any convenience store. In fact, up until 1932, the sodas were mixed by hand at soda fountains across the US. Ted Ryan, a Coca-Cola archivist, explained in the company's press release, “Soda shops would experiment with different flavors. Vanilla and Cherry were favorites, of course, but you’d also find locally sourced flavors on tap in different parts of the country. Peach was popular in the South and, believe it or not, maple syrup was common up north.” Ryan adds that he "...sees the new drinks as a modern-day interpretation of this ritual of personalizing Coca-Cola with locally relevant tastes."
Even the packaging lends itself to the intended vintage Americana vibe, with minimalistic line work adorning the cardboard carriers. Local artists Greg Mike, Michael Kalish, and Trish Andersen (the former two are California-based, while the latter hails from Dalton, Georgia) are also teaming up with Coca-Cola to create art inspired by the flavors and their hometowns, to be displayed in the two states. Further embracing its origins, the new drinks are exclusively being released in the iconic 12-ounce glass bottles— the shape of which has been uniquely recognizable since the 1950's, and was trademarked by the company in 1973.
If the first two months of the year are any indication, the Coca-Cola company is clearly approaching 2018 as a year of exciting new things. Last month, Coke's calorie-free counterpart, Diet Coke, received a bright, chic makeover (for the first time in thirty five years) to accompany the release of four new flavors. The new variations are modern and sophisticated — like ginger lime and zesty blood orange —perhaps channeling the growing unprecedented popularity of faux-french flavored waters. But fear not, Diet Coke devotees, this is no repeat of the infamous New Coke fiasco of the 1980s, the original Diet Coke formula remains intact.
Dasani, Coca-Cola's filtered water brand, also added five new flavors to its sparking water repertoire last spring.
Coca-Cola's development team has been working overtime during the past year, and loyal fans of the beverage are benefitting. If you are a foodie (or drinkie?) who, as Norton describes it, "...enjoy[s] discovering crafted flavors and who ha[s] a desire to try curated food and beverage experiences," your tastebuds are in for a real treat with the two new Coca-Cola flavors.