The new coke was the result of the coca-cola company performing taste tests and finding that their sweeter test product scored better. This was because in the amounts and time period that they gave their test subjects, they did actually prefer the new coke. When the product was released coca-cola soon discovered that when consumed under every day living conditions their new product was an abysmal failure. They soon reintroduced the old coke as "coca-cola classic".

As for the addictive substances variety of coke, the "new coke" seems to be Everquest.

After a century of tradition from the Coca-Cola company, 1985 would certainly be a year that would live in infamy. Out of nowhere a surprise hit the world: that of New Coke.

The new Coke was created by a change to high-fructose corn syrup - a choice Coca-Cola marketing executives felt was wise after a secret $4 million dollar study had been performed, proving that the new Coke formula was preferred in a 55:45 ratio. After the press release, there was instant backlash from Coke loyalists, and panic stockpiling occurred all over the world.

Despite the negativity in the public, results looked good. In 1985, New Coke took 15% of the soft drink market, and the remaining Old Coke 5.9%, for a 21% total; while Pepsi only took in 18.5%. However, by next year statistics had taken a huge leap: New Coke dropped to 2.3%, Coke Classic leapt to 18.9%, while Pepsi stuck at 18.6%. Soon enough New Coke was dead, and we were left nothing but the small text reading "classic" on our aluminum cans to remind us of a death in the family.

It's interesting to note that New Coke still continued to win blind taste tests, which led Coca-Cola to attempt a relaunch of the product under the name Coke II.

Source: Introduction to Statistical Reasoning, Gary Smith, McGraw Hill, 1998, pp. 186-187.
The conspiracy theory, which is far-fetched at best, goes something like this:

Coca-Cola wanted to slightly change the time-honored formula of their original product. We'll call the original Coke A and we'll call what they wanted to change it to Coke B.  They know that if they make the change directly, people would notice.  So, they concoct some awful-tasting soda (New Coke, or Coke C in this story) and replace Coke A with it.  They stay with Coke C until all traces of Coke A are out of the marketplace and out of people's homes.  Now, "bowing down" to popular demand, they then replace Coke C with Coke B, NOT Coke A.  An interesting note is that this version was (and still is) marketed as "Coca-Cola Classic," not simply as "Coke."  Coca-Cola will tell you this is because they intended to still sell New Coke and didn't want consumers to get confused, but we know that it's really because it was a different product than the original Coke A.  No one's had the original Coke A for a year or so, and so the memory of what Coke A was has faded just enough for no one to realize that Coke B is not actually Coke A.  Thus, the switch is complete, and the original Coke A hasn't been sold since 1985.

It's probably complete tripe, but it's funny.

The most convincing story I have ever heard regarding New Coke was related to me by a professor at the University of Utah during a course in International Political Economy. Aside from his occasional grammar and spelling errors, I had a fair amount of respect for him and his Stanford education. So I give the story some amount of credit. It goes something like this:

The 80's saw a period of transition in the world sweet stuff market. For one reason or another, sugar producers began demanding higher prices from their customers like the Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola wasn't too happy about this turn of events, sugar being fairly high on the ingredient list of most of their beverages.

About the same time, corn producers were holding an ace card: corn syrup. It was dirt cheap, and in plentiful supply. They approached Coca-Cola, who saw their chance to give sugar producers the one finger salute and eagerly accepted the proposal.

Believing their customers to be pretty sharp, Coca-Cola felt that they could not just swap the two ingredients without anyone noticing. A sinister plan was devised...they would "retire" Coca-Cola and "replace" it with New Coke. Following the inevitable widespread revolt, Coca-Cola would be resurrected with one little difference, and no one would be the wiser.

And that's what went down, folks. If you don't believe me, try tracking down an old Coca-Cola can and compare the ingredients with the one you bought yesterday. Ta-da! The one simple difference you will find is that the sugar seems to have met a grim fate. Boy did that hurt the sugar market. The upside is...corn mills everywhere no longer have to find old sheds and underwear drawers to stick their corn byproducts. Let this be a lesson to you in free market economics.

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