Nov 9, 2014
Which Coke (or Chabad) Are You?
Op-Ed: The type of beverage you prefer—Coke Classic, Diet, and Zero—might say something about the Lubavitcher you are.
By Meir Applebaum
In April 1985, the Coca-Cola Company launched its new and revised line of Coke. They changed to a sweeter formula to better adapt to Pepsi's approaching market share. The public uproar was overwhelming, and within three months, forced Coca-Cola to reintroduce its old "classic" formula.
As the years progressed, many types of Coke drinkers have emerged, each with their own tastes and discretions, challenges and ordeals. However, there seems to be three general categories with which to – if not define – understand these groups. There are Classic Coke drinkers, Diet Coke drinkers, and Coke Zero drinkers.
1. Classic Coke'rs
They tend to want the full range of taste and sensual experience that comes with popping open that can of joy. They savor every moment of its sugary sweetness while basking in its refreshing and chilling effects. Sure, those 'chilling effects' may include some chilling, even frightening diseases, as countless health 'experts' and 'specialists' decry the many ingredients that cause cancer and other ills, while citing study after study that proves their warnings of impending damnation.
Classic Coke'rs know all that, but still cling to their rugged ways. Maybe life is too short to acquiesce to 'iffy' risks. Maybe this is their way of 'using', not 'wasting'. Maybe, just maybe, the experience is too powerful and compelling simply to let it go because of some bodily incongruences. Either way, they take it all in.
If others may feel pressures to conform and adapt – these exercise extreme judgment and selflessness in determining which environments they can handle, to enter only those. Unabashedly, proudly, and without reservation, they proclaim their undying and sacrosanct commitment to Coke — Classic, the taste, the sugar, the risks, and all its connotations.
2. Diet Coke'rs (or Coca-Cola Light'ers)
They are firm believers in the Coke powers and want the full experience as well. They yearn for the real taste, but can't bring themselves to drinking the original, actual drink. Instead, they'll drink the artificial sweetener Aspartame, despite it being linked to various cancers and neurological problems.
They will make sacrifices, but shirk from the most serious consequences of the drink. They avoid some of the health risks associated with the high fructose corn syrup and the 6.5 teaspoons of sugar engorged in every serving. At times, they are fabled for paradoxes and absurdities – like the guy who ordered pizza with extra cheese, a large fries, and a Diet Coke. They proudly drink their Coke, but with a simple caveat. They don't want to be perceived as uneducated or 'extreme'. They show their sophistication with the great 'Diet' compromise. "I drink Coke but I'm normal", is their motto.
3. Coke Zero'ers
This may be the hardest group to understand, but I have the most sympathy for them – for their quandary. They'd prefer another drink that doesn't have any health risks. In fact, they tend to be health conscious people who, presumably, wish to abandon all soft drinks. Essentially, they seem to have given up on Coke. But they can't bring themselves to dropping the brand altogether.
They are Coke'rs "in name only", but clutch that name tightly. What is it about the name that they just won't give up? Underneath it all, then, despite what appearance may suggest, they haven't given up on Coke at all.
They are believers, but for whatever reason evade almost all the side-affects commonly associated with the Coke brand. Indeed, at times they are embarrassed by some of Coke's products or by the negative press. Maybe their social circles don't allow them to express any sympathy for 'hazardous' drinks, and their Coke Zero 'status' works to alleviate some of that tension. They wish for Coke – nostalgic memories of the original, authentic, deadly, and real sugary mouthfuls of chilled youthful joy, in those days before they became 'health-conscious' – but for one reason or another, have given up on the full experience. They now suffice with Zero, taking solace in knowing that Zero is also 'Coke'.
Each group has their troubles, but they differ in nature. While the Classics may have difficulty connecting with or identifying with the world around them, that doesn't bother them in the least. They are idealistic and stand up for their beliefs in the face of social pressure and 'ficial' world opinion. Getting the full experience of Coke, they have little incentive or need to go elsewhere. Their 'troubles' are external, not internal. They are fulfilled, unburdened, and at peace.
The diet coke'rs can convince themselves they have the real thing. They think their fine, that they can suffice with a low-key intimation, but they remain hungry for more— more flavor, a fuller, more savory experience — something to enhance their increasingly lustful palate. They may turn to other sources searching for fulfillment. These drinkers can either move to Coke Zero or abandon Coke altogether. More likely, though, they will continue with Diet Coke, but slip in some other beverages on the side, all the while still convinced of their completely-Coke fidelity. Indeed, those powerful enough to have a say with the company may even push revisions to Coke's vaunted formula, to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The Coke Zero'ers status as Coke patron is in serious danger, and is not likely to last. Because they have no problem acknowledging their infidelity to Coke – which they may even flaunt as an accomplishment worth emulating – they can be easily lured into 'foreign pastures' searching for what's missing in life, for more flavor and excitement. After all, gone are the days when Coke was the only drink on the market. There's a new world out there, with a variety of choices, many of which are healthier and more environmentally responsible than Coke.
If someone chooses Coke, that's their personal choice, but there's no 'Right' or 'Wrong' beverage. This logic leads many astray, but especially those who already enjoy only a watered-down remnant of true Coke. For if it's a matter of taste and opinion, and despite their Zeros, still thirst to quench their prolonged frustration —they won't be looking to Coke for some savory satisfaction, they already drink that.
Some of you might have been thinking "but wait a minute, Coke Zero is almost identical to Diet Coke — sans half a calorie and a different name?" You're right, there truly is little distinction, namely, a half a calorie, between the two. But herein lies the clincher: despite the appearance of a wide gap between the Diet'ers and the Zero'ers, at their core they face the same challenges and adapt similarly.
The Zero'er is merely a more advanced Diet'er – who is sure soon to catch up. Once one mixes oneself into the picture, deciding which pleasures cannot be sacrificed, which pressures to concede to, which social norms to conform to— the mistake has been made, now it's only a question of time.
To those searching for 'the good life' I Implore you to reexamine the Coke of your youth, reenter that world of open and unbridled joy, reclaim a superb beverage's full glory, explore what's so compelling and invigorating that is keeps Classic'ers going despite all the 'experts' warnings of impending doom, and rejoin the unvanquished, but powerful few.