In the continuing battle for soft drink market dominance, both Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola have launched their latest salvos.
Dr. Pepper’s is a variation on their (presumably successful) “Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper” — “Diet Rasberry Creme Dr. Pepper” (also available in non-diet). The name pretty much says it all, with the caveat that it takes a sensitive palette to distinguish it from normal Dr. Pepper.
The more interesting product launch comes from Coca-Cola. It is called “Blak.” Sold in cardboard four-packs of 8 ounce bottles resembling the glass Coke bottles of yesteryear, the packaging does little to give away what might be inside. The bottles are completely opaque, and (aside from the beverage name), the only clue to what might be inside is the curious phrase “Carbonated Fusion Beverage.” The bottle itself is mottled black and dark brown, with a yin-yang looking thingy that, with hindsight, is probably supposed to be a highly stylized coffee bean.
The word “Blak” itself has the trademark Coca-Cola stripe over the “a.” This seems a questionable marketing technique, since it brings into question the proper pronunciation. Is it “black?” Or is the stripe supposed to make the “a” long (“blake”)? In the worst case, consumers familiar with Swedish would recognize it as a stylized version of “ä”, which would yield a pronunciation very close to “Bleck.”
Like C2, Blak is sweetened with a combination of High Fructose Corn Syrup, Aspartame, and Acesulfame Potassium. An 8 ounce serving delivers 45 calories. The only other notable ingredients are “coffee extract,” and (of course) caffine.
The four-packs themselves are currently priced at nearly $6.00 each — or about $1.50 a bottle. I’m not entirely certain if this is a special introductory “abuse the customer” pricing scheme (like Coke employed when they first launched C2), or if they intend to continue to market the stuff at über premium prices until it fails under the weight of no one buying it.
As for the contents of the bottle: the trademark “Coca Cola” flavor was distinctly (although subtly) present; however, the overwhelming flavor was that of “coffee that has been held warm for at least 4 hours” — that is, the salty, pungent, slightly burnt taste that you get at small-town truck stops. On the balance, it tastes very much like what I would expect if one took such coffee, oversweetened it with Nutrasweet, chilled it, ran it through a seltzer bottle, and mixed it 2 to 1 with Coca-Cola. “Bläk” indeed.
I give it 1.5 stars out of 5. I have three bottles that I’m willing to give away if anyone wants to try the stuff…