Rest in peace, oh soda jerk: Coke Freestyle
elevates individuals to instant mixologists by using a zesty touch-screen system to mix selections from over 100 choices into a custom beverage, all while delivering a geeky high-tech thrill.
It's been called "the fountain of the future
," "the most advanced soda fountain ever
" and (in a backhanded-compliment kind of way) a path "leading to social ruin
." Even Warren Buffett is a fan
. But can this thing really deliver?
spokesperson Helen Tarleton certainly thinks so, calling it a "complete departure from a traditional fountain machine." (She even reports that a gal was caught on security camera fondly embracing and kissing the machine.)
Tarleton expects 500 new Freestyle machines to pop up soon in Southern California, Atlanta, Dallas and Salt Lake City
We decided to take Coke Freestyle for a test drive at a local McDonald's
in Atlanta, where we came up with some crazy combinations using the machine's 100-plus flavor options.
While Freestyle's club soda can help cut the sweetness of some of the machine's more intense flavors, you are likely to go crazier with the combinations than you think -- and you're virtually guaranteed to forget whatever it is you put in your cup.
But we were able to document a few of our greatest hits for posterity:
"Doogie Fanta, M.D."
(Combination: Dr. Pepper, Vault Peach, Cherry Fanta)
"The Red Wolf Blitzer"
(Vault Red Blitz, vanilla Diet Coke)
(Barq root beer, raspberry Dasani Sensation)
(Minute Maid strawberry, vanilla Coke, grape Fanta, club soda)
(Grape Fanta, Lime Dasani Sensations, Club Soda)
"Customers love them," says Stephen Cordell, McDonald's on Cheshire Bridge's first assistant manager, who seems like a proud father reporting that his two Freestyle machines connect via Wi-Fi to the Coke mothership every morning at 2 a.m. for software updates.
Freestyle feedback was largely positive. "Wow, this is cool" and "How neat" were thrown around McDonald's by customers while we were testing it out.
So go forth, soda geeks, but make sure to keep track of your mix for next time -- and keep some Tums handy for the inevitable sugar-stomachache.
Will Pollock is a freelance writer for Sunday Paper in Atlanta and is working on his first book on emotional intelligence for men.