Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Coke, A Bunless Chicken Sandwich at KFC and The Return of Fizzies (Sort Of)

Pop a top and Celebrate the New Coke

It’s been a while since I rambled on about this, that and whatever – so I thought now is as good a time as any to unleash an end of the month edition of Frostbites – a collection of thoughts put together in that dot-dot-dot journalistic tradition of the late Bob Talbert and Larry King’s old USA Today columns.

Coca-Cola recently celebrated an anniversary – an anniversary that they are happy to forget – the day that they introduced “New Coke” to world. Yup, it was twenty-five years ago – on April 23, 1985 – that Coca-Cola took original Coke off the grocer’s shelves and replaced it with a newly reformulated Coke and people around the world instantly responded with a loud “WHAT THE ……!!!!”

In the 70s and 80s – Coca-Cola was getting their ass handed to them by Pepsi – who was aggressive in the marketing of their product. While Coke commercials were out there “teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony”…Pepsi was taking to the streets and putting their cola to the test in side-by-side taste tests against Coke and Pepsi was coming up the winner. I can remember seeing people line up to take the taste test that Pepsi had set up in one of the local stores that I use to shop at in Flint and seeing people choose their product over Coke right before their eyes was pretty darn convincing. Coke was taking some hard hits in Pepsi’s advertising and they had to respond and their response – New Coke!

Supposedly – this New Coke had been taste tested and all the research came back to Coke that this new Coke was the way to go. Outside of the normal store distribution – McDonald’s restaurants sell more Coca-Cola than anyone else. To make sure that New Coke tasted like New Coke – millions of dollars was spent just to send an army of technicians to McDonald’s restaurants throughout the world just to make sure that they had the correct syrup to carbonated water ratio for their fountain soft drink dispensers. Coca-Cola did everything they could to make sure that the introduction of New Coke would be a success – but little did they know that Coke drinkers around the world would reject it.

Eventually – Coke realized the errors of their way and began selling “Classic Coke” along side New Coke (which wasn’t selling at all and is no longer being bottled). This mistake in marketing cost Coca-Cola plenty and it has taken a long time for them to fully recover. So, now you know why Coca-Cola wasn't acknowledging this historic date and celebrating the anniversary of a marketing disaster.

Bite Into This -- The KFC Double Down

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a fondness for good ole American fast food. I have sang the praises of Long John Silver’s Baja Fish Taco and I have given a glowing thumbs up at Wendy’s Bacon and Blue Burger and their ninety-nine cents Spicy Chicken Nuggets – what am I going to sample next? I am really tempted to visit one of the local KFC restaurants in the area and wrap my lips around their new “Double Down Chicken Sandwich” – the sandwich so huge that it doesn’t even have a bun.

Even though KFC is really pushing this new sandwich in their national commercials – nutritionists, dieticians and people who generally care about your health – are warning people to stay as far away from this sandwich as possible. This sandwich isn’t going to kill you – but it’s going to give it a kick start to some blocked arteries and elevated blood pressure in some who do sample it.

When you read how KFC describes the Double Down on their web page – you’re tempted to go out and try one. KFC tells you that “this one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce.” It sounds like of interesting – even without a bun – but just one Double Down Chicken Sandwich contains 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and – and brace yourself -- 1,380 milligrams of sodium. And if you think that the grilled version is going to be a bit healthier for you – think again – because the grilled Double Down maybe be lower in calories and fat with just 460 calories and 23 grams of fat – but it has even more sodium than the fried version – coming in at 1,430 milligrams of good ole salt!

I’m sure that some of the burgers that I have been throwing down my throat are pretty high in calories, fat, etc….so, all of the doom and gloom that people are spreading about how bad this sandwich is for you doesn’t bother me. The thing that’s turning me off from wanting to try it is its price. – according to the Los Angeles Times – LA KFCs are charging $5.49 for the Double Down – the equivalent price of one of their six piece meals – at that price I could bring home a bag of those fish tacos from LJS. If I do decide to give this sandwich a try – I’ll let you know – so keep your eye on this blog.

And since we’re talking junk fast food – when is McDonalds going to bring back the McRib to us folks in Michigan? I know that the McRib is on the menu at McDonalds in some other states – but it’s yet to make its appearance in Michigan and it seems like the McRib is a yearly special sandwich anyway…so c’mon guys…bring back the McRib.

There is one fast-food item that I want to rave about – Onion Rings at Sonic. The only time that I get to visit a Sonic is when I take a trip over to Flint to do something and you don’t have to twist my arm much to get me to drive over to Sonic for these rings. First – they’re huge! These rings are made to dip in ketchup (or whatever sauce you choose) and don’t order the small size – order the biggest size that they have. Sonic uses cornmeal or something in their onion ring batter and just saying that they’re delicious would be short-changing Sonic – these onion rings are to die for. If Sonic’s burgers were as good as their onion rings – they would be one dangerous fast-food restaurant – but every burger that I have had from the place have been pretty lame.

In the every thing that’s old is new again department: If you were a kid in the 60s – odds are pretty good that you’ll remember Fizzies – a tablet that you put into a glass of water to make a delicious refreshing soft drink. Fizzies came in a lot of flavors – such as grape and orange – but the one that I remembered best was root beer. If my memory serves me correctly – a package of about six or eight tablets cost something like twenty-nine cents….well worth the price for all of the fun kids had with the tablets.

Four decades or so have pass and now Kool-Aid and General Foods bring back memories of Fizzies (although they don’t call them that) with a new product called Kool-Aid Fun Fizz. Just like Fizzies – these flavored-filled tablets dissolve in water to make a refreshing glass of….Kool-Aid…with out all of the mess and bother. I have been able to sample two of the flavors – fruit punch and grape – and they are pretty tasty – but aren’t cheap. A package of six Kool-Aid Fun Fizz is retail priced in the $1.99-$2.29 price range and each one of the tablets only makes an eight-ounce glass of Kool-Aid.

If Kool-Aid and General Foods are in a retro food mood – maybe they could buy the rights to and bring back PDQ chocolate milk mix and all of the other flavors of PDQ milk mix such as strawberry and egg nog.

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