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Wayback Wednesday: The dawn of "New Coke"

By the mid-1980s, Coca-Cola had been losing market share to rival Pepsi in the soda wars that erupted at the beginning of the decade.

To kick their case of the blahs the company decided to revamp its signature product into something called "New Coke" on April 23, 1985 while also ending production of the original formula.

Here's CBS' News' report on the change:

Here's Bill Cosby pitching the product:

A firestorm of bad PR and angry customers ensued.

People hated it, to put it mildly. Some thought it tasted too much like Pepsi. Others thought it was too sweet. Some were original-formula loyalists who just weren't willing to take it lying down.

There were protests, including buttons with "New Coke" and a line drawn through it. At least one country-western protest song was written.

Within three months the company knew they had problems on their hands and they buckled. The old formula was brought back under the name "Coca-Cola Classic". The new formula stayed on the shelves, becoming "Coke II" for awhile before eventually being discontinued altogether in 2009.

The decision to change the formula is considered one of the worst marketing decisions of all time. But Coke survived and then some. The company did $41.9 billion in sales in 2016.

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›