First Discussion of New Coke on Usenet from April 26, 1985

Ah how I love trawling through the Usenet archive. Last night I stumbled across a discussion between Gordon Howell, Donald Eastlake and Jay Johannes from way back in April of 1985. This was THE month that New Coke was released and we are seeing the “Internet” reactions to this legendary beverage switch. The original New Coke on Usenet discussion was aptly called Coke isn’t it. Enjoy.

Gordon Howel – Apr 26 1985

Okay…. I’ve endured a lot of abuse in my time, but this is the final straw!

**** They are changing the Coca-Cola formula!!!!!!!!!! ****

Is nothing sacred??!!!
They might as well outlaw the Beatles, or change God’s name, or reinstate prohibition.

For those of you out there who are confirmed cocaholics such as myself, I encourage, nay, INSIST that you call Lucy at (213) 746-5555×4249 to complain about the change.

Tearfully submitted, gordon


Jay Johannes May 2 1985

RE: New COKE formula.

We were discussing this the other evening, and someone came up with an interesting thoery.

Seems that COKE signed a contract in the early 1900s with their original distributors to sell their original formula for a fixed price (a price cap). Since then inflation has really hit hard, and COKE has been actively buying distributors for the last few years to get rid of the contracts, and then reselling the distributorships at terms more lucrative to COKE.

However, if they change the formula, then the agreement no longer applies. COKE can afford to lose market share, and still make larger profits. The only ones who lose are the consumers and the distributors.

Some of this is verifiable, some is pure conjecture. Treat this as net.rumor.

Jay Johannes
Loveland, Colo.

Donald Eastlake May 20 1985

The original Coke distributorships were pretty old style agreements purporting to bind the two parties forever but I don’t think they had anything in there about selling the formula unless Coke went out of business or something.

Listen to the Retroist New Coke Podcast

So that is how the early online world reacted to this titanic shift. Further searches of New Coke on Usenet was pretty much the same stuff.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ugly American

    They wanted to switch to corn syrup and drop the coca extract because it’s cheaper but if you put them side by side the new ones would get returned as bad.

    So they tried to pass it off as an improvement like when when Dinty Moore Beef Stew cut the beef and spun it as ‘Now with more Potatoes!’

    If soda makers had their way, everything would be artificial sweeteners because they’re so cheap compared to sugar or even corn syrup that they’re practically free. Of course, they’re poison but hey, so was Red Dye #2 and that artificial grape flavor made from coal tar we all loved as kids.

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