New Coke and Stranger Things Season 3

Back when Netflix announced the release of Stranger Things season three would be delayed, I made a prediction. Actually, it was more of a demand, but I’m not here to split hairs. I said Netflix and the show’s creators needed to reward diehard fans (i.e. me) with a number of intriguing trailers to intrigue us until the upcoming season. I know Netflix doesn’t read this column but the streaming service was rather generous with Stranger Things season 3 trailers. We had the Starcourt Mall trailer, a title tease trailer, official season three trailer, and the Hawkins Community pool trailer. Now, we have yet another Stranger Things trailer and it’s a HUGE sendup to something that practically defined the year 1985:

What Was New Coke?

So, it’s obvious what 1980s phenomenon that this Stranger Things trailer pays homage to. It’s “New Coke,” that short-lived but much-remembered ordeal caused by the Coca-Cola Corporation in April 1985. For those too young to remember, “New Coke” was the name of Coca-Cola after its recipe. The soft drink giant was facing massive market share losses that year. The reason: consumers were switching to Pepsi and other soft drinks that offered a sweeter taste and flavor.

New Coke was the result of a company responding to perceived market demand. Was it a success? In a word, nope. The vast majority of American soft drink buyers considered New Coke was a complete disaster. It simply wasn’t the Coke that they’d come to know and love. Roughly three months after its April 23, 1985 release, Coca-Cola brought back its original flavored, which was re-branded as “Coke Classic.” So, if you’ve ever wondered why Coke is called “Classic,” now you know.

What Did New Coke Taste Like?

Admittedly, I drank a lot of New Coke as a kid. I wanted to like it but I didn’t… at least at first. While Coke’s aim to create a sweeter version of classic, all-American soft drink, I didn’t get that. To me, New Coke simply tasted thinner than the original; it was like someone watered down the flavor of the old Coke. Gone was that dark, syrupy-sweet goodness that I had loved as a kid. It was replaced with something that tasted thinner and more watered down. It was like New Coke was old Coke left out to go flat. Fortunately, it wasn’t on the market for more than three months!

As Bad as New Coke Might Have Been…

… I’m going to drink it again. That’s right. I’m going to buy a case of New Coke when it hits the stores on July 4, 2019. Apparently, Netflix is hosting a huge cross-promotion with Coca-Cola to coincide with the release of Stranger Things season three. Long story short, New Coke is coming back… for a limited time only. Yeah, I know it wasn’t the best cola in the world during its day. That said, if a sip of that elixir can bring back even the tiniest sliver of my childhood, it will have been a worthwhile investment. I can only imagine what grumply ol’ Stuart Sweet might say about this!

Stuart can grouse about Stranger Things all he wants. (I’m sure he’ll slam me in the comments section sooner or later.) Truth is, he just doesn’t get it. We Gen Xers are hitting plunging into the anonymous depths of middle age right now. While we’re living in the here and now, our hearts are long for those simple, carefree days of our youth. The halcyon decade of the 1980s gave us the best video games, movies, and music. And yes, it was also a time when New Coke was a thing… if for only a minute. He wouldn’t begrudge me a tiny sip of all that, would he?