Wanna drink?

Jennifer M. Crisp, senior in Business, samples the new Coca-Cola product, Dr Pepper Berries and Cream, for a taste test survey Wednesday afternoon in the Union. Suzanne Stelmasek

Jennifer M. Crisp, senior in Business, samples the new Coca-Cola product, Dr Pepper Berries and Cream, for a taste test survey Wednesday afternoon in the Union. Suzanne Stelmasek

By Emily Sokolik

America’s taste buds are being tempted with new beverage offerings from some popular soft drink makers. Dr Pepper and Coca-Cola have expanded their line of carbonated drinks to include a variety of unique flavors.

“I was pretty excited when Dr Pepper made another flavor,” said James Young, sophomore in Engineering, referring to Berries and Cream Dr Pepper. “This one blew me away. It has a dominant cream soda flavor and a subtle raspberry taste.”

In 2004, Dr Pepper introduced a new assortment of old-fashioned soft drinks called Soda Fountain Classics. Berries and Cream is the second drink, introduced last month, in the Fountain Classics line. Chris Barnes, Dr Pepper spokesman, said Soda Fountain Classics was created to remind people of simpler times.

“This really harkens back to a more nostalgic sentimentality,” he said. “People think back to the ’50s and ’60s when they were getting their soda from a soda fountain and infusing them with unique flavor combinations. Soda Fountain Classics is a way of celebrating that aspect of days gone by.”

Coca-Cola has been busy creating new carbonated beverage varieties as well. More than ever, consumers are becoming bored with the typical soft drink flavors and are looking for some innovation, said Scott Williamson, spokesman for Coca-Cola.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“What we are seeing more and more is that people very much enjoy and look for variety,” he said. “While you still have your Coca-Cola Classic lovers, there are times when they’d like a slightly different flavor or something new and different.”

Caffeine lovers nationwide have a new product to fuel their addiction. Coke Blak, a blend of Coke and coffee, the Coca-Cola Company’s newest drink offering, premiered in France and the United States earlier this year. Williamson said Coke Blak is known as “a carbonated fusion beverage.”

“Coke Blak is actually almost a category unto itself,” he said. “It’s different than the traditional soft drink. It has the effervescence of Coca-Cola and a coffee essence as well.”

Amanda Brenner, coffee drinker and sophomore in LAS, sampled the new Coke Blak as she sat relaxing outside the Illini Union Wednesday afternoon. After a few sips, Brenner said she missed the smooth texture of her usual cup of Joe.

“Both coffee and Coke are so caffeinated anyway so it seems unnecessary to put the two together,” she said. “The flavors are too different and shouldn’t be forced.”

While Brenner was not thrilled with Coca-Cola’s new fizzy beverage, Williamson said Coke Blak has developed a large fan base.

“It has been very well received,” he said.

Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, the flavor to launch the Soda Fountain Classics line two years ago, is also popular with consumers. Jessica Harris, director of exhibitions and collections at the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas, said the Soda Fountain Classics line has renewed interest in the Dr Pepper brand. Dr Pepper is the oldest major soft drink company still in business.

Pharmacist Dr. Charles Alderton invented Dr Pepper at a drugstore in Waco, Texas in 1885. In the 19th century, drugstores were equipped with soda fountains where people would customize their drinks by adding in flavored syrups.

“(Alderton) would go in the back of the store and mix up different flavors like cherry, vanilla, or lemon,” Harris said. “That’s how he eventually came up with Dr Pepper.”

When developing new beverage offerings today, Williamson said Coca-Cola, as well as other soft drink companies, look to the public for ideas.

“We have an ongoing dialogue with our consumers,” he said. “We have a continual research process. Coca-Cola talks to consumers about beverages and whether they have been able to find the kind of drinks they would like.”

Barnes said Dr Pepper values consumer opinion and is always looking for ways to improve their beverages. Plans are underway for new flavors in the Soda Fountain Classics family.

“We’re continuing to look at our options,” he said.

While Dr Pepper and Coca-Cola have been rapidly expanding their carbonated drink offerings, Pepsi is focusing their attention on their extensive line of non-carbonated beverages.

“We’ve come out with a couple new flavors from our Lipton Iced Tea drinks and are looking to expand our drinks from Starbucks,” said Michelle Naughton, Pepsi spokeswoman.

Both Dr Pepper and Coca-Cola have boosted sales with the introduction of their new drinks, but despite the competition, Pepsi is not planning to expand their line of carbonated beverages any time soon, Naughton said.

“We just really try to have the best products for our consumers,” she said. “We have a very robust portfolio of flavors.”