Update (Dec. 27): Read the response from Coca Cola at the bottom of this post.
Coca Cola has not been nice this year. Actually, judging by anecdotal evidence from Coke fans across the country, the soda king has been downright naughty. What has made this small group of people, including myself, mad at Coke is their phase-out of Coca Cola C2 (or Coke C2), the low-carb beverage that hit the street in June 2004 and was already being pushed out a year later.
Today, reports from around the country say it’s hardly available anywhere. When I first posted a year ago about being unable to find C2, there were no responses. Today, there are about 50 or so comments (read them here, here and here) on those three posts, the bulk of those coming in the past three-four months.
Why did the comments come so late? Because C2 was disappearing from their area stores and some couldn’t get it back even after pleading with stores or contacting Coke directly.
One month ago I decided to e-mail some of the people who left comments on the blog and ask them about their history with C2.
They wrote about how in C2 they found the perfect alternative to Diet Coke (which C2 was—not as sweet as regular but better tasting than diet), about hating Coke Zero (which was the product that Coke pushed out to replace C2), about feeling abandoned by Coke, and about their hope to see the beverage back on the shelves. And, here’s one interesting anecdotal fact about C2—it seems it really caught on in Texas.
Read their testimonies below and ponder the following. If so much of the beverage market is a niche world, why can’t Coke provide for us, the people who have fallen for C2 and were then left without it?
First, here is the e-mail I sent to the people who left comments:
I apologize for the unsolicited e-mail, but at one point you made a comment on one of my three C2 related posts.
I continue to be surprised at how many people continue to post comments, even a year later. From those comments, it’s obvious fewer and fewer of us have been able to find the drink–it’s been a year since I had my last one I believe.
The reason I am e-mailing you is because I’d like to pull together your C2 testimonies and post a longer version that I can later e-mail to Coca Cola. I know it’s not going to do much, but it never hurts to show the company.
So if you don’t mind sending me a few paragraphs about:
- how you found C2
- why you liked it
- some adventures is searching for it once it started disappearing
- your thoughts about related products (e.g. Zero).
Here are the answers (some have been edited for length):
Intrigued at the concept of a drink with calories that allegedly had all the great taste, I gave it a shot and immediately liked it even better than Classic Coke. Truly the best of both worlds.
I excitedly told all my friends and family about how good the drink was, even though it was hard to find. I would tell them about how it was too bad this drink could not have existed for the last ten years, as I would most surely not have the unhealthy few extra pounds I carry, but at least it was better late than never.
Turns out my brother in Houston was buying C2 and loving it just as I was.
My decision I have to live with now is to drink less soda than before. In my present state, I cannot continue to pump down high sugar drinks (i.e. Classic Coke), and their Zero is an abomination. So I just drink less cans per week.
I hope they will consider the idea I heard floating around our Texas bottler that Coke was thinking of re-introducing – for a limited time during the holiday season – some of their old flavors. If they would only do that for C2 once in a while, we devotees could buy large supplies of them to keep us happy.
I have had to pay >$1 a can for a few weeks now, in order to find last-ditch supplies of C2 in odd places. But I know even that option has run its course, and it is terribly disappointing.
Glen, Austin, TX
My discovery of C2 was at a time when I was looking to reduce my caloric intake and find a different beverage to drink.
The no calorie diet sodas all left me wanting because they had that flat Neutrasweet taste. Prior to that I drank regular Coke or seltzer. I knew from my first can that this soda was something I could live with. It still responded to my need for sweetness and bubbles in my mouth.
Unfortunately as soon as I discovered it,…it seemed that it was difficult to find. One Stop and Shop had it. Then the next time they did not. Then one ShopRite had it, then they did not. The Stop and Shop where I originally had found it got it again. Then no more. I waited and waited in Ledgewood, NJ at another ShopRite where I had previously purchased it to see if the Coke truck had some on the truck, but he did not.
This is my sad story. I buy 4 12 packs at a time if I can find it. It was not too long ago that I found it in a ShopRite in Watchung.
It is such a wonderful product, it tastes great and I wish that it would “reappear” in the marketplace again.
I was a loyal Coke Classic drinker and was looking to reduce my calorie intake without having to give up taste. C2 was it. I tried an individual bottle & was amazed. My local supermarket had rows of 2 litter bottles next to the Classic Coke (pre-Zero days).
The taste was just off Classic Coke, but was half the calories & carbs. I could cut back on my cola consumption, but not really with C2. ( I wasn’t even counting carbs – a bonus!)
Visited several grocery stores when the 2 liter bottles were disappearing and stockpiled. Did the same with the Fridge Packs last weekend. This week I made another round to find most stores had the C2 labels removed. Too bad.
The folks at Coke laid an egg on Zero. Why do they need another Diet Coke? Coke Classic and Diet Coke have had a very long history & picked up loyal customers along the way. C2 wasn’t promoted enough, especially after Pepsi discontinued their low carb version. C2 was aimed at the ginormous Coke Classic audience. Coke Black? If I want a cola, I’ll drink one and if I want coffee, I’ll have a cup. I don’t need them mixed. It’s doomed too.
I looked around at the other soft drinks to find a suitable replacement for C2. There is none!!
The little 100 calorie cans are a joke. Think about it, 12 ozs of C2 -70 calories, 6 ozs of Coke Cassic 100 calories. I might as well live it up and have a 12 oz Coke Classic with 140 calories, twice as much & only 40 more calories. No thanks.
Save C2, and Coca Cola try sticking with a newer product and advertising it. You might be amazed, especially since there no comparison.
PS: Once our C2 supply runs out we will be cutting our consumption of Classic Coke in half. No Zero, Diet Coke or Diet Caffeine Free Coke will do.
I, too, am a C2 fan.
I drink it because it has 1/2 the carbs and calories of regular Coke yet tastes the same to me (when it’s cold). When we ran out of C2 here in Fort Worth, I got on the Internet, contacted Coke, etc.
Coke insists they still make the syrup but wouldn’t tell me what bottler is buying it. Finally in desperation, I went to my local Kroger and requested that they special order it. Within a week, they had C2 back on the shelf. I bought 9 twelve packs. They haven’t had any in a few weeks, but I’ll just continue to request it.
The local Coke distributor had no idea where Kroger got the C2 that they sold. The only thing I’ve been able to verify is that it is apparently still being sold in Oregon. Hope this helps.
Coke Zero, which supposedly replaced C2, is terrible in my opinion. If I wanted a Zero calorie Coke, I’d drink Diet Coke. The Coke bottler here sells TAB. I have to believe if there is a small market for TAB, surely there is a small market for C2 as well.
Hey, I am still very ticked-off at Coca-Cola for pulling the C2. I t had great taste , unlike Coke Zero which tastes like diet! Also, C2 didn’t have the Aspartame in it which gives myself and several other people I know migraine headaches!
Is Coke trying to make the population obese with all the carbs, or maybe they think everyone can drink aspartame?
Whatever the reason, I speak to so many people who wonder what happened to such a great product. Maybe the sales for C2 weren’t as high as they had hoped because there was always a limited supply of it in all the stores!
I did find it on sodafinder.com! (…) [T]hey want $24.00 for a 12 pack, with a 48 can limit! No, I didn’t order it. I refuse to buy anything from Coke at that price since they don’t have the decency to care about the public’s choice!
Hell, I use to be able to get 4 12 packs on sale for $10.00 at the supermarkets! $24.00 is highway robbery and why should Coke profit from the fact that they aren’t concerned about what we, the public, think!
So, add this to your blog and e-mail me to let me know when you post it! Maybe Coca-Cola will listen, maybe they will try again.
I have told everyone I know NOT to buy Coke Zero, let that flavor be retired!!!
1, Saw the ads and the promotions in stores early on but wasn’t immediately interested.
2, Hit a new personal best in the weight dept and tried it to allow some normality during my dieting. Tasted good enough and cut my habit in half-I had always drank too much but for much of my working life it was physical and I could consume as much of what ever I wanted to. Both knees replaced 6 years ago at 40 and life improved from where it had been, stopped working and moved from CT to FL and spent too much time lying out by the pool.
3, Market for C2 had been stellar up to Memorial Day weekend, big promotions, sales, large stocks and I stocked up (good thing). After this it was multiple stores at differing times of day trying to catch some actually on shelves. My local Publix had allotted room for 4 12 packs. My Albertsons maxed out at 8 12 packs. And roughly a third of the time some stock would be there, another third found space depleted and the final third found another product taking up the space.
(…) I once pestered at Publix (…) if there was any out back, they were holding some (special order?) for someone else-a manager called them and the next delivery would suffice for them. This is my best story, I scored, but what a waste of so many peoples time to minimize sales! This to me indicates demand, no?
4, There are no commercial related products, Pepsi had one and dropped it with advanced notice like Coke has provided for Vanilla which for some reason remains on the shelves? The Zero is dreadful, never liked the diet, wouldn’t use the lime for a quick rum and, and there are flavors that I can’t see them doing any better with so I have passed on them.
I just bought another bottle of Coke Zero just to make sure I felt the same way about it. It is better than I remembered, but I still would not buy it as a substitute for Coke.
Diet drinks are diet drinks. Diet Coke tastes nothing like the real thing. Coke Zero may taste better than Diet Coke but it is not the real thing. My diet drink of choice is Tab. I love the flavor. I also like Fresca. Those drinks came out as stand alone products. They were not supposed to taste like anything else. They have their own flavor profile.
C2 to me is a fantastic substitute for Coke. Granted it has calories….but it also has wonderful flavor. It tastes like the real thing, Coca Cola. Perhaps Coke needs to market the product like a light beer. Beer makers have yet to make a diet beer, with no calories. So perhaps we need three categories of soft drinks: regular, diet and light. Given a chance I think light could be popular across the board. Many people are weary of sugar substitutes.
I loved C2 because, to me, it tasted better than regular Coke. Regular Coke tastes a bit too sweet to me now. I could barely get through one can. With the C2, if I drank two cans I did not feel guilty. To be honest nothing tastes better than a ice cold coke after a long night out. I love the burn. C2 was the perfect answer to a hangover.
I still have five C2s in my fridge. I am holding on to them for a special day, sort of like a fine wine. I know a lot of people who can not stand diet drinks and C2 was their salvation. Now they just get the small 100 calorie Cokes.
From my conversation with the bottler in Texas, there seemed to be more of a market for C2 in Texas than elsewhere. Perhaps Texas could be the place to make it. C2 lovers could make pilgrimages to Texas to get C2. I would pay extra to have C2. I would even order it by mail. I would love a standing order of a case a month. That order would double if I were entertaining.
Below is the answer I received from Coca Cola, to whom I sent this post. It looks like standard PR response, nothing different from what I got from them in the past.
Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company, Mr. Lupsa. We are glad to hear from a fan of Coca-Cola C2 and apologize that you have had difficulty finding it in your area.
We have announced no plans to discontinue Coca-Cola C2. Regarding availability, local bottling companies choose which brands to sell and the size of the packaging that will be available in their territories. These decisions are based on consumer demand and other market factors. We believe they are in the best position to make those decisions.
If you would like to contact the bottling company serving your area, you may wish to contact them at the following telephone number: (800) 222-8088. If necessary, they may refer you to a sales center for assistance.
Your loyalty to Coca-Cola C2 is certainly appreciated. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to visit our website again.