In one of the biggest product-placements of all time, the new season of Netflix’s runaway hit, Stranger Things (premiering July 4th) will feature an entire episode’s plot featuring one of history’s biggest marketing flops: New Coke. The show, set in the 1980’s, has had plenty of product placement already (Eggo waffles are a key plot point to the first season), but this promises to be next-level.
New Coke, for the unfamiliar, was Coca-Cola’s biggest mis-step. In 1985, Coke, fearing the sales of the increasing-popular Pepsi, announced they were re-working the recipe of Coca-Cola. Rolled out with an advertising campaign of epic proportions, the new flavor was met with dismay and outright anger from Coca-Cola fans. After only 79 days in production, the company halted New Coke sales, and went back to the old flavor, re-branding cans with it’s current name: Coca-Cola Classic.
Today, those who are curious to sample the soda that stirred such fervor can order the “Stranger Things Coke package“, which includes two glass bottles of Stranger Things-branded Coke, as well as two cans of the infamous 1985 New Coke. We cracked open a can, and gave samples to a group of friends who either had dim childhood memories of the drink, or weren’t even born when the soda met it’s demise. Here’s some of the reactions.
Wilson Rivera: I wasn’t born in 1985. (tries it) Eh. It’s like that real old can you see in a Puerto Rican grocery store, and you can feel it’s old. Not the one you want, but it’s the one you get, because that’s what they have. And I know, I’m Puerto Rican.
Tim Cornett: RC Cola with more sugar? I have vague memories of drinking this. I was five. Most of my memories are soda related. It probably doesn’t taste as bad to us now as in 1985, because we’re awash in a world of Coke imitators now. Wal-Mart’s “Dr. Pop” or whatever. Classic Coke is upper-middle class. But your dad still has a job if he’s bringing this level home.
Rustin McCann: It tastes like Pepsi. If Pepsi tasted better. I’d rather have New Coke than Pepsi.
India Pierre-Ingram: It’s not…that bad? I don’t know what I expected. It’s super-sugary and really carbonated. So much I can’t taste anything. I’m more of a ginger ale person. Canada Dry is where it’s at.
Jason Dunlap: In 1985, I was four years old. I funneled this s-t at McDonald’s. (tastes) Guh, that tastes like my cousin’s wedding at this sad Elk’s Club. Yuk. Thanks for the memories.
Zachariah Durr: It tastes like if you’re at the end of a Coke Slushee. And it’s melted down, so you have that gross Slushee syrup and the Coke, so it’s way too sweet. 1985 America was right, New Coke is no good.