The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'coca-cola'
Bar managers at Bristol's Cube Multiplex alternative cinema were faced with a dilemma: a lot of their customers wanted Coca-Cola™, though they could not sanction buying it because of the company's dubious ethical record. Alternative cola drinks such as Virgin Cola and Pepsi just weren't the same. So they decided to reverse-engineer the Coca-Cola recipe:
Codenamed "Merchandise 7X", the list of ingredients that go into Coke - 922 million litres of which were drunk in the UK last year - has been kept carefully shrouded in mystery since the drink's inventor, a medicinal chemist called John Pemberton, first wrote it down in 1886. These days it is supposedly kept under 24-hour guard in a vault in Atlanta, Georgia, which is odd considering that author Mark Pendergrast published it in his exposé of the cola industry For God, Country & Coca-Cola (Basic Books) in 1993. The company maintains that this recipe is not the same as the one it uses.
Any alternative they were going to offer had not only to taste almost identical but overcome the incredible pull of Coca-Cola's marketing. "Given that most of the Cube's customers come because they like the place's DIY attitude," Brandon explains, "one way of doing that was to make the cola ourselves."
Cola is basically a mix of caramel, caffeine, sugar, fizzy water, citric or phosphoric acid, and eight essential oils. It's the precise blend of these oils that lies at the heart of the 7X secret formula. A trawl of the web soon uncovered several 7X-type recipes, the most promising of which was adapted from the one in Pendergrast's book.Brandon and Rich acquired the ingredients (many of which were hard to get) and set up an "open lab" where, assisted by a few friends, they attempted to make a Coke-like substance, destroying four mixers in the process. Eventually, with the help of a hand whisk attached to a hammer drill, they succeeded, making something that sounds almost exactly like the Real Thing™:
The initial surprise is that it really does taste like Coke. Very slightly sweeter than "the real thing" but less acidic. A satisfying, complex flavour, subtly different from the brand leader, but easily as good.They are planning to sell concentrate kits to other small bars and businesses, allowing them to make their own right-on Coke substitute. They have also released their recipe (included in the article) under the GPL.
An interesting article about the history of Chinese Maoist propaganda poster art, and the contemporary artist Wang Guangyi, whose work includes the "Great Criticism" series, juxtaposing Maoist poster imagery with Western lifestyle product brands.
(via Boing Boing)
Several German cities have a phone-based bicycle rental service, in which electronically-locked bicycles are left in the street and may be ridden for 6 Euro cents a minute. This was not good enough for some h4x0r d00dz, so they opened one up and changed the firmware, giving them free rides. (via Slashdot)
Meanwhile, apparently there are secret cheat codes for Coca-Cola vending machines; pressing a certain sequence of buttons puts the machine into a debug menu. From there, one can apparently do fascinating things like, um, seeing how much money the machine has taken and how many cans it has sold. (via bOING bOING)
The latest mobile phone approved in the US is shaped like a Coca-Cola can, and has three buttons. One connects the caller, who has just found the device in a 12-pack, to a Coca-Cola representative who explains that they have won that most American of aspirational lifestyle symbols, a SUV; another sends the caller's whereabouts, picked up by a GPS receiver built into the device, to the company so that the lucky Coke drinker's SUV can be delivered. The device was developed by a Sydney company, Momentum Worldwide. This looks simultaneously nifty and obscene (disposable single-use electronic devices used for promoting junk food and giving away SUVs and then destined to leach toxins into the water table).
This lends itself to speculation about risks, and ways in which the street may find its own uses for these. The devices would probably cost a few hundred dollars to manufacture, and Coca-Cola would probably collect them for destruction upon delivery of the SUV. Though if one got one and didn't want to own a truck, I wonder how easy it would be to remove the SIM card and fit it to a different phone. Unless SIM cards can be configured, at the network level, to only call one number, an aspiring terrorist or troublemaker could have in their hands a completely anonymous SIM card, courtesy of Coca-Cola. Chances are it'd only be good for one call and one SMS message, though; I wonder whether it could receive calls.
Australian unions are calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola over the company's Latin American bottler's use of death squads to resolve industrial-relations problems. Coca-Cola, of course, deny the charge, asserting that it is strictly against corporate policy to violate human rights, and that maverick elements within the local franchise must have been involved without the parent company's knowledge.
Happy citizens of McWorld: no need to fear terrorism, when you can learn to kill terrorists with Coca-Cola cans; and more neat tricks, as anti-terrorism instructors will gladly show you (for a fee and proof of US citizenship).
(I sense a new marketing campaign in this: Coke for Freedom. Perhaps with ads in which sassy US-flag-wearing skater kids defeat vaguely terroristic meanies with Coke cans.)
But how can you identify a terrorist?
"They'd have black hair," one student offers. "Brown skin."
"They probably wear those kinds of shirts you button up at the neck," another says.
"Usually they got brown eyes. They might act nervous. Or maybe they'd show no emotion at all. You know, they sometimes have those dead eyes."
Though Middle Easterners, chronically nervous brown-eyed people and others are perhaps understandably concerned at the prospect of red-blooded patriots preemptively dealing out two-fisted "justice".
"I was on a fight where the pilot came on the radio, telling the passengers we have plenty of weapons at our disposal -- blankets, shoes, pencils," recalls Carol North, the psychiatrist. "It's a little unsettling when you are about to take off." She worries about what could happen if people misread something like mental illness as suspicious behaviour, and there is certainly a new risk for anyone who looks or sounds like they are from the Middle East.
Coca-Cola does a Nike and has been availing themselves of the local right-wing death squads' assistance in sorting out labour problems; this time, in Colombia. Nothing like the disappearance of some trouble-making organiser, their mutilated corpse later to be found in a sewer, to keep the employees compliant and docile. Coca-Cola, however, denies involvement, saying that the bottling plants aren't owned or operated by them (much like the Nike factories, right?) Though, surely, if the plants have to meet a quality standards to earn the valuable and tightly controlled Coca-Cola trademark (and I doubt that Coca-Cola would want someone attaching their brand name to bottles of muddy water), the parent company could equally insist that they not torture or kill their employees, no?