Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Virus mystery: The case of the missing Fresca


 

     It is not the most pressing question.
     Let’s get that said right away.
     Among the clamor of impassioned debates and thorny controversies, solving this particular puzzle is not high on anybody’s list. Not even mine, which is why through April, May and the first half of June, I stifled my curiosity, certain that even asking is the definition of privilege.
     The world in chaos — sirens screaming through the streets, a raging pandemic, flames of unrest licking the foundations of our deeply racist society, jobs shattered, the helm spinning. Envision a tumultuous landscape, smoke billowing, thick with cops in riot gear battling protesters waving signs, all noise and conflict and commotion.
     I raise a finger and clear my throat, “A-hem!,” and it somehow magically falls still and silent. All heads — sweaty, masked, soot-stained — swivel in my direction, and I inquire:
     “What happened to Fresca?”

     Because I really like Fresca and typically enjoy a can at lunch. Then Fresca just vanished from stores in March. But unlike toilet paper, it never came back, at least not to the Sunset or the Jewel or other stores near me. There must be a reason, right? If only there were an organization, a company perhaps, that I could ask . . . but who . . . who . . . ?
     Here is where 35 years of journalist experience comes in.
     “I’m a news columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times,” I began in my plea to the Coca-Cola Co. “I’m wondering where Fresca is and when it might come back.”


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15 comments:

  1. I thought the can shortage was due to Trump's asinine import duty on Canadian aluminum, which caused the price of aluminum cans to go up.

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  2. Today's colomn is an example of what we call in the trades. "Taking the day off" you spread your tools on the ground, move a few 2x4s from one place to another and do some sweeping so the boss thinks you did something.
    Well you deserve to coast now and then . Especially after the outstanding work you've done of late. At our age nobody begrudges a master crafstman a holiday. At least you showed up. LOL
    Aluminum can shortage? No way! It's undoubtedly a right wing conspiracy to keep us from paying attention to the Russians and Israelis

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    1. Wrong as usual, FME. More positive reaction to this than anything else I've done lately. And if you notice I had to press two corporations over a period of weeks. I don't usually print your reactions, as I hope you'll find out where Jerry B. is hiding and go there. But you said something nice, despite yourself, so I decided to let it past.

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  3. Neil, as a follow up, can you check with Coca-Cola as to why Fresca never seems to be included in their new fountain drink dispensers that have about 50 different options of soda, lemonades and water, but no Fresca .

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    1. I'm baffled as to why Coca-Cola machines have Dr Pepper & not Coke's knock-off, Mr Pibb. Now I love Dr Pepper & I'm happy to get it, but Coke seems to be bizarre on this, as Dr Pepper is a Dr Pepper/7-Up brand.
      But the one think I wish wasn't in any of the fountain machines, caffeine! It's totally unnecessary & it's contributing to the drugging of children, who have no need for caffeine!

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  4. One mystery solved. Now, while not completely gone from shelves, original Ruffles also seem to be at an all time low since March. Every Jewel I visit and even 7 11. Wife thinks I'm goofy, but I'm telling ya , it's a thing !

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  5. Before headaches forced me to stop consuming alcohol, I used to mix Squirt with vodka. Not Diet Squirt, but the regular stuff in the bright yellow cans.

    For some unknown reason, there was also a Squirt shortage for a while. So I switched to straight grapefruit juice. I liked that so much that I kept on drinking it, minus the vodka.

    Alas, no more grapefruit juice, either, thanks to the cholesterol meds I now take. Getting old is hell, and one of the biggest reasons is the number of favorite things that you eventually need to do without.

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  6. "I’ve taken to squeezing a lemon in ice water and drinking that."

    I do that too, but it ain't got the fizz. One simply must have the fizz! I gave up pop years ago. I don't miss the sugar, and I never drank diet anything, but I still enjoy a nice bottle or can of lemon fizzy water. It took a few years of fending for myself in the pop-free wilderness, but lately, of course, the shelves are burdened with limitless variations of zero-calorie, "naturally-flavored" fizzy water. Not a La Croix guy -- I get whatever store brand is cheapest. While I drink a lot of plain water, too, it simply doesn't cut it, "fun" wise.

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  7. I read that it was because COVID made it harder to import artificial sweeteners from China and when I asked the Coke guy in a store about it months ago that’s what he said.
    Could be cans, though. If you look more closely you’ll see that the stores have orange Crush but no other Crush flavors. I’ve been driving to different stores looking for other Crush flavors.

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  8. I try to not drink a lot of diet pop; they say it's not much better for you than the sugared stuff. I mostly stick to iced tea in the summer. I think diet Squirt is the best diet pop ever, but now, thanks to you Neil, if and when Fresca returns, I will try it immediately. Sometimes you just need fizzy bubbles.

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  9. Since I've never even tasted a Fresca, it's a bit hard to identify with Neil's obsession here. The closest beverage I have drank would probably be a 7-UP, which didn't appeal all that much to me even with whiskey in it. Of course, water with lemon is a better choice all round, with or without whiskey.

    tate

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  10. So, you can order it on Amazon and probably other sources too; probably a little expensive, but WTF? This might be the apocalypse, so if you love Fresca that much, spend the money, who gives a damn, is what I always say in justifying my own self-indulgences.

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  11. I have 2 12-packs. Let the bidding begin!

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  12. I'm responding late but I just learned about this Fresca crisis columm (THanks John Weldt). I am having the same problem as you but my grief is over TaB. And based on your column, I believe I drink considerably more Tab than you drink Fresca. Not making this into a competition but just calling out that I have an extra hour a day for other actitivites now that I don't drink Tab. My pal John had one can which he shared with me on Sunday and when I tasted the wonderful bitter aftertasta that only Tab can provide, I was healed for five minutes. I also reached out to Coco-cola via their site and received a link to a generic tool which would let me find out what stores in a certain radius from my home MIGHT have a brand I selected in the tool. That was useless because NONE of the stores near me or not so near to me stock it. I had already checked. A Jewel employeed was very friendly and told that that: 1. they would be getting TAB back in stock and 2. he was aware how 'important' Tab is to people who like it. Then I talked to a Coca-Cola delivery person in the same store. He was very friendly too and told me it would be back in stock at some time. I asked why it was not being put on shelves and he said it was because of the Covid Crisis. It was all I could do to not say "Crisis? I'll show you a crisis if I don't get some Tab" but I remembered that many people are sick and dying and if my biggest problem is no Tab, I'll be OK.... Also, FWIW, I heard an NPR story about artisan beer makers who were being affected by the can shortage as well. Who knew. Anyway, your column resonated. Also, I really want to comment as Lizzie Borden... Lizzie Borden took a tab and she gave her dad a stab...... I enjoyed your column and will start reading it regularly.

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  13. A "can shortage" doesn't explain why my local stores (coastal California) have started stocking a new Strawberry Fresca, but still don't have the real thing. Surely there's enough interest in this topic for you to do some more journalism on it, right?

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