Commentary

To Each Their Own: Cinnamon Coca-Cola, Cranberry Sprite, PSL Spam

Taste is in the palate of the beholder, and Coca-Cola -- as has been the case since it rolled out New Coke and Coca-Cola Cherry in 1985 -- is looking to expand its market of beholders with new flavors. 

“The holiday season is a natural occasion to indulge in sweet treats, and this year, the Coca-Cola Company will be offering new ways for two of its best-known brands to join in on the festivities. Arriving this fall, soda fans can keep their eyes out for Coca-Cola Cinnamon and Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry,” Mike Pomranz  writes  for Food & Wine.

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“Rumors of both products' impending release began swirling [Monday] when the always reliable Instagram account CandyHunting wrote that Cinnamon Coca-Cola had been ‘confirmed’  and that Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry would also be ‘out for the holiday season.’ Unfortunately, beyond the specific release dates, Coca-Cola wasn't able to provide us with any additional details at this time, but said that info would be ‘coming soon.’”

"Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Limited-Edition Cinnamon was first unveiled in the United Kingdom last year and will hit shelves in the U.S. on Sept. 30,” Fiza Pirani reveals in the hometown Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Expect the products on store shelves through Dec. 31, or until supplies last.”

press release for the British version of the product stated: “Launched in response to the general public’s love of the flavor, the new addition to the Coca-Cola family is bursting full of warming flavors and is guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit as we head into the Christmas season,” as Madison Flager noted on Delish.

“To no surprise, hundreds of people sounded off on the [CandyHunting] Instagram post announcing the details. One user gave their opinion, saying 'I’m curious, but skeptical.' Another quickly followed, ‘I’ll try this. I hated the cinnamon Pepsi, though. It was awful in my opinion,’” Kyle Phillippi writes  for Pop Culture.

“As the latter noted, this isn’t the first time a soda company has experimented with a cinnamon flavored drink. Pepsi brought out Pepsi Fire in 2017. The limited-edition drink had mixed reviews and never took off as the company had hoped,” Phillippi adds.

“Some were obsessed with the flavor, while others were decidedly not into it,” Flager reports on Delish.

Speaking of questionable taste, that time when another seasonal flavor pops up is upon us already.

“Labor Day doesn’t arrive for another two weeks, but summer is essentially over, and corporate America is circling its corpse. By which I mean that it’s already pumpkin spice time,” writes  Kelly Faircloth for Jezebel.

The New York Times noted  that PSL season (everything is branded now; fall is PSL season, and before we know it summer will be Miller Lite Inner Tubing Bikini Instagram Time) begins earlier and earlier every year, to the extent that this very day -- August 14 -- Dunkin Donuts is getting started. Their announcement  revealed: 'Dunkin’s long-awaited fall lineup will arrive at participating Dunkin’ restaurants nationwide by August 21, led by the delicious new Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte…'”

Over at the New York Post, Lauren Steussy has a different take on the phenomenon. 

“Since its creation circa 2003, PSL-inspired foods have gone through all phases of a trend’s brief existence, from earnest appreciation at its Starbucks birthplace to meme territory. Now, even Martha Stewart is over it. Last year, she declared the lattes ‘basic,’” Steussy notes.

But the death knell, she writes, is that “Spam, never to be outdone, has unveiled its own demented take on everybody’s favorite orange gourd: Pumpkin Spice Spam. The canned meat product -- which spawned  a viral fake in 2017 -- goes public for real Sept. 23 and will be available on Spam.com and walmart.com."

Meanwhile, Halloween creep is itself spreading like spam. Target has already stocked its costume collection and had “a ton of Halloween decor” as well, Elizabeth Gulino reported for House Beautiful three weeks ago.

You know what that means. Those humongous and enticingly cheap bags of assorted bars of flavored sugar we swear we’ll store in a closet and not open until 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 will soon be enticing us  in a center-aisle display at Costco. And, once again, we’ll open the bag for “just one” mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup -- and the game will be over. 

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