It All Started with Coca Cola
In 1985, the Coca Cola Company came out with New Coke, which never really took off. To recover from their gaffe, they decided to keep the old formula as Coca Cola Classic. In the process, they discovered that taking over more shelf space with other products bearing the Coke logo was a win-win for the Corporation. So now today you can buy Coke with exclusive new chicken liver flavor, with crushed pretzels, with overtones of sulfuric acid, and with extra corn syrup.
At the same time, all the other old brands have similarly metastasized. Ritz Crackers. Doritos. Ocean Spray. Reese’s. Cheez-It. Cheetos. Triscuit. The list goes on and on. Note, however, that the brands involved in multiplying themselves are products with a long shelf life. You can’t achieve the same success with celery, parsley, Gravenstein apples, or dragon fruit.
When I had to buy some Ocean Spray cranberry juice a couple of weeks ago (it’s good if you have a urinary tract infection), I had a hard time find just plain original cranberry juice. Needless to say, I was not swayed by the new Clam*Berry flavor or the one with sauerkraut flavoring added.
I suppose the idea is to make smaller brands scared by the multiplicity of variations—though what happens when you run out of all the popular variants?
Even Trader Joe’s has gotten into the act, with a kind of dill pickle flavored popcorn. It really wasn’t very good.
At some point, a lot of these *NEW* flavors will be duds. Then maybe we won’t be presented with so many weird options.