Coca-Cola was 68 years old when I was born, and it’s still here, trying to compete and stay relevant. But, as we all know, everything grows old. Coke’s latest quarterly earnings indicate it may be getting frayed around the edges because for the first time in its 127 year history it is no longer the Number 1 brand. As the population embraces energy drinks and smoothies spiked with whey protein, Coca-Cola has taken a hit.
No doubt, Coke, like all of us right-sided 50 year olds, will figure out how to reinvent itself and age with grace. It’s already taken a Botox injection with its partnership of Green Mountain Coffee. So no doubt Coke will be around for a while, but it does make me wonder: will it still be in the American tapestry of familiar icons in 2114?
Maybe the revolution against sugary drinks will have been so successful that the old timers (i.e. today’s one year olds) will be reminiscing about a soft drink they heard about called Coca-Cola. Farfetched, but not unimaginable, because things always change and nothing is forever.
I never drank the stuff, but so many things went better with coke – movies, music … traffic circles. The brand managed to bottle more than just fizz and syrup, and for me, it was the visuals that came with Coca-Cola that remain a steadfast reflection of some of the times of my life.
Growing up, the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant was a beacon on the Asbury Park Circle. It was where Route 66 met Route 35, and when giving directions to anyone who was a novice with the navigation of a New Jersey traffic circle, the building was a landmark; the swirly script of red letters a signpost:
“Go the the right,” or “Go to the left,” of the “Coca-Cola building,” I would say.
Today, the building is still there, but it’s shuttered and an eyesore. Coca-Cola left in 2011, and like the traffic circle that it had decorated for decades, it will most likely, and soon, become a thing of the past.
And then there’s the bottles. And all that they have spawned (coke-bottle glasses and green sea glass for starters). What was, and what remains, one of my very favorite movies, is the 1981 foreign film from South Africa, “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” about a coveted coke bottle and its impact on the human condition. The film’s director, Jamie Uys, decided the coke scenes in the movie should be centered around African Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. He went on an exhaustive search to find, and eventually film, “the real thing”:
So, while we’re at it, and for old times’ sake, let’s join virtual hands, and sing, in harmony, for the love of Coca-Cola: