Coca-Cola reportedly developing vanilla version

Monday, April 22, 2002

ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola is reportedly developing a vanilla-flavored version of its flagship cola, extending the company's palette of flavorings from Cherry Coke and Diet Coke with lemon.

The nation's largest soft drink company has prepared sample packaging for the new drink, to be sold initially only in North America, according to Beverage Digest, which reported the pending introduction in its current issue. Coke officials declined to comment on the report.

"It is not yet an absolute certainty, but I think it's very likely that they'll launch a line extension of Coke Classic," Beverage Digest editor John Sicher said Monday. "It's become very clear in the last year or two that new products and innovation are an important component of marketing and drives growth."

Coca-Cola Classic remained the nation's top-selling soft drink last year, but analysts said Coke hopes to emulate the success of rival Pepsi-Cola Co., which has seen sales soar for Code Red, a version of its highly caffeinated Mountain Dew.

But don't expect to see a vanilla-flavored Pepsi anytime soon.

"It's not something we're looking at," said spokesman Larry Jabbonsky of Purchase, N.Y.-based Pepsi. "We think it's a bit vanilla."

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