Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Summer Project: The Cherry Coke continuum (1985)

I am not a big soda drinker. I like Dr Pepper, but usually only drink it if I need a caffeine fix (I don't like coffee). I usually order water in restaurants, though sometimes I'll get a pop. And any Pepsi or Coke made with real sugar (and in a real glass bottle) tastes awesome, and I still have a soft spot for Orange Crush and Sunkist (though both today are way too sweet -- blame the high fructose corn syrup). But for the most part, I'm not one of those people who drink a few sodas a day, or even a week.

In 1985, for one summer, I was one of those soda drinkers. The Coca-Cola company debuted Cherry Coke that year, and it instantly became my favorite drink.

By that year, my family wasn't buying much soda, either, so I was on my own to find Cherry Coke. I'd walk to the drugstore on Canfield and Higgins, or even to the Dominick's on Cumberland to get one. Or, whenever I was out with friends, I'd buy one as well. It tasted so good.


The introduction of Cherry Coke was in contrast to the the fanfare of "New Coke," the company's attempt to sell the cola with a different flavor. New Coke didn't survive (and wasn't even that good). Cherry Coke endured.

My affinity for Cherry Coke eventually subsided. I still like it, but I wasn't seeking it out like I once had just to drink one. I'll get one today when I need the caffeine fix, like while driving on a road trip. You don't see it much in restaurants (though the Costa Vida near us has it, but again, I'm usually drinking water).

So why am I writing about this 30 years later? Because, amazingly, the taste of Cherry Coke brings back powerful memories of the summer of 1985. Listening to the WLS FM and B96 all summer. Hanging out with friends, many of the older ones who now had cars. Running as I tried to get into shape for the upcoming cross country season. Cherry Coke has its place in those memories. One sip takes me back.


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