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By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

COLUMN: Strange things happen with New Coke


August 28, 2019

A few years back when video stores were still a mainstay, I used to rent five or six movies a week. Sometimes when the weather was bad, or I was in a lazy mood I would spend my entire weekend watching a variety of films in a variety of genres.

These days I still watch a movie here and there but I'm no longer a movie buff who could tell you the director of each film I'm watching as well as other movies they've directed. These days I've found the joy of binge watching a television show and it is something I really enjoy. I feel a TV series can really dig deeper with a story and let it play out over 10 or so episodes rather than 90 minutes to two hours.

One of the shows I really enjoy is "Stranger Things" and I thoroughly enjoyed the recently released third season and watched the eight episodes over the course of a Sunday and a Monday.

With a name like "Stranger Things" the show is of course a little weird, but it is great storytelling and had me hooked from the pilot episode. One thing I've also enjoyed from each season is that it takes place in the mid 1980's and is a flashback to my childhood. There are a plethora of pop culture references and they often time take me back to a time and place and I can reminisce about some of my favorite memories growing up. Each time they have a" Star Wars" reference I smile as I remember playing with my action figures and a majority of the last season played out in a mall which also brought me back to an era where there was no such thing as shopping online and instead everyone would go to the mall even if it was just to spend some time at the food court.

While there certainly were many pop culture references that made my day, there was also a heavy emphasis on "New Coke" which lead me to a memory I did not want to remember.

I was in second grade when "New Coke" was released in April of 1985 and I was among the many Americans who hated it. I drank a lot of original Coke growing up and didn't understand why they changed it. The new version was too sweet for my taste and was just not the same.

The taste however was not the biggest reason for my disdain of the new formula.

What really soured me was what happened one Monday at the start of my school day.

I was sitting in class attempting to listen to my teacher when I saw her face turn pale. I had never seen this happen at school before and I was not sure what was going on. She started to run in my direction and when I saw kids starting to look behind me, I turned around.


The moment I turned around, the girl behind me, I think her name was Judy, projectile vomited all over my me. I was drenched. I ran away in complete shock and Judy or whatever her name was kept throwing up. It was disgusting. We all watched in horror as she spent the next several minutes getting sick. The teacher finally got her a trash can, but it was too late. There was a mess everywhere.

As soon as she started to feel better, Judy explained that her family had bought several cases of "New Coke" when it was released, and she had probably had eight or nine cans on Sunday.

I was already grossed out, but it was even worse now because I knew what it was.

From that point on I never drank another "New Coke" and I certainly hope Judy did not either.

For the rest of the year my desk smelled of that vile drink and it was like Christmas when they decided to bring back the original. I had not thought of "New Coke" in a longtime and "Stranger Things" ruined that. I'm sure that desk at Westridge Elementary School still stinks.


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