On May 8, 2002, the Coca-Cola company launched Vanilla Coke, the first new Coke flavor in 16 years. Coca-Cola was looking for a new flavor to debut to keep sales up, and they smartly noticed that do-it-yourself vanilla Coke was very popular with consumers.

The new Vanilla Coke flavor is the result of mixing natural vanilla bean extract with Coca-Cola Classic. The packaging for Vanilla Coke is a first -- keen observers will notice that it's the first time the brand name "Coke" has ever been used on packaging in the trademark Coca-Cola Spencerian script. 1

I haven't tasted Vanilla Coke yet, though I've been looking for it eagerly. It should be arriving at stores throughout the U.S. very soon (if it hasn't already), and it will hit Canada by next summer.

Nameles says, "vanilla coke tastes like a rootbeer float with coke instead."

Update:
I found some Vanilla Coke! For some reason there were crates of it hidden under other crates containing broccoli in the produce section of my local grocery store. It tastes just like Coca-Cola Classic, but with a slight vanilla aftertaste. The vanilla flavor isn't as strong as I had thought it would be, but it's still good. I like it.

Update part deux:
variable says Vanilla Coke has already hit Canada. I must've had old information.

Update part trois:
holliman says Vanilla Coke is now available in two-liter bottles and 12-can packs, rather than being exclusively available in 20 oz. bottles.

Update part quatre:
stewacide says you haven't lived 'til you've had a 7-11 Vanilla Coke Slurpee.

1 yerricde says Cherry Coke's label was changed to display a Spencerian "Coke" brand name before the introduction of Vanilla Coke.

I would like to apologize here for the heinous trick that the Coca-Cola company has played upon the consumers of the United States of America. Those of you in the other North American countries and the other six continents, i can only hope that this plague has not spread to your area yet.

It has spread to the UK; people of the world, please be on guard.

Some of you may be wondering, "Wow, I wonder how the Coca-Cola company came up with such a wonderful idea, accenting the subtle vanilla flavor in Secret Recipe 7x?" Those of you who have had a REAL vanilla coke, or just have taste buds, are wondering "Why in the name of whatever deity you may or may not believe in did they add VANILLA EXTRACT to coke to try and get the flavor right? This tastes like ass!"

"Wait", you say, "what i'm drinking isn't REAL vanilla coke? But it says so on the can!" That's right, folks, the packaged swill the Coca-Cola company is trying to fob off on the public is only a pale imitation of the Real Thing. Kinda ironic, perhaps, since Coke so often passed itself off as The Real Thing. But on with the education!

The real Vanilla Coke was made years ago in soda fountains. Of course, now you'll have very little luck finding an honest-to-leroy Soda Fountain (or Shoppe or whatnot), but if you know of one in your area, go, enjoy, and try not to gloat too much. It doesn't suit you.

Many of us are lucky to live in or near New York City, or in the nebulous region known as "The Tri-State Area". Others may just have diners in their area with properly educated staff. Still others live within reasonable driving distance of a Waffle House or maybe even a Denny's. If so, you're still in luck. However, there is some procedure one must follow.

  1. Coca-Cola, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to further inflict their form of punishment upon the people of the world (or just the USA and maybe Canada so far) and have made "Vanilla Coke" available on tap in various eating establishments across the country. THIS WILL NOT DO. Ask your waitperson if they make their own vanilla cokes. If egg creams are listed on the menu, this is probably the case.
  2. Next. Some diners have contracts with the Pepsi-Co Corporation. While Pepsi makes fine beverages, the blend of flavors used to differ their brand of sugar water from that of their competitors in Atlanta makes Vanilla Pepsi a vile combination. It's not lack of marketing insight that have prevented Pepsi-Co from jumping on the vanilla bandwagon, it's lack of desire to see the public vomit (or at least to be blamed for it). If they use Pepsi, ask if they will make you a Lemon Pepsi, and go about your business as usual.
    UPDATE THAT MAKES ME CRY: It appears I was wrong about the heinousness of marketers. cbustapeck says that Vanilla Pepsi was indeed spotted in the wild. I have yet to try this and confirm my suspicions that this will be horrible; i've had Vanilla Pepsi made for me in error at diners and managed to keep it down, albeit with difficulty. I will try one in the interests of science; in the mean time, keep back 500 feet.
    FURTHER UPDATE: against my better nature, i bought a bottle of vanilla pepsi. it wasn't as bad as the crap that coke puts out and mislabels, and wasn't as bad as i was expecting. however, this isn't a recommendation. MAKE YOUR OWN. and use coke because the flavors work better. i swear.
  3. If done absolutely properly, the Vanilla Coke will arrive in two layers, with the cola precariously floating on the heavier vanilla syrup. Stir with your straw (i don't care how manly you are, THIS MUST BE IMBIBED WITH A STRAW), sip, and enjoy.
If you don't live in a diner-friendly area, or have uneducated wait staff, there is still some hope. Many malls across the country have a chain known as Johnny Rocket's, aimed at aping the style of diners from the 1950s without the communism. There, they make Vanilla Cokes (and cherry, chocolate, and, for some reason, lemon (see above)) the proper way.

Those lacking even this chain restaurant may still be in luck. Many coffee shops also sell soft drinks at inflated prices. You can then ask the surly barista of your choice to squirt some of the vanilla syrup into your ice-cold fountain Coca-Cola for a small fee; some may, after some gentle persuasion, may even squirt this syrup into a beverage not purchased at their place of employment. It won't be as good as a real Vanilla Coke (see below for why), but you will have at least saved yourself and your tongue the indignity of the Thing That Should Not Be.

If none of these methods appeal to you, or you just don't like going out into the world, you can make your own at home. Of course, you need the right materials.

The canonical Vanilla Coke is made using vanilla syrup. If you want to be really hard-core, use U-Bet Vanilla Syrup. This can be purchased at many grocery stores in the US; you'll be luckiest in the Northeast, but i've found it as far away as Arizona. Basically, if your area has a heavily Jewish or transplanted Northeastern population, you will probably find U-Bet in your local supermarket. (Failing that, there is always the Internet.) It is worth looking for. Treat yourself a little. (While you're there, also pick up some U-Bet chocolate syrup. With this, you can make Chocolate Coke (a favorite of gloinson) or perhaps ask yossarian to show you how to properly make an egg cream.) Most other vanilla syrups are formulated for coffee and thus won't taste quite right. U-Bet, however, is formulated for milk and for vanilla egg creams and somehow forms a sublime blend with Coke which no other syrup can approach.

Now, the Coke. It _should_ be sprayed from a fountain, but if you have the machinery to provide Coke on tap in your house, you probably have people who can make Vanilla Coke for you and you don't need my help. The rest of us will have to make do.

Honestly, i can't really taste the difference between glass and plastic-bottled Coca-Cola. There is a slightly different taste with the aluminum can, which is a shame, since that is the easiest size to deal with. You need fresh, just-opened soda for the best, fizziest results (especially since you will lose some of the fizziness later). So either deal with the can, waste some of the 16- or 20-oz. bottles, or invite some friends over to share 2-liter. Or buy two six-ounce bottles, but i've never tried that.

THE STEPS

Provided everything worked out properly, you will have a Vanilla Coke much like millions before you have enjoyed. Even without absolute perfection, your usage of vanilla syrup has propelled your cold beverage to heights that the Coca-Cola company hoped you would never reach. In any case, you will likely never drink that canned crap again, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Please note: if you like Diet Vanilla Coke, then you can still make your own at home with Diet Coke and sugar-free vanilla syrup. However, you're totally on your own there. But at least you have a way out, too.

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