Soda Lovers Unite, Coke is Sending Freedom Your Way

From the "trivial things newcomers notice" file: It's ridiculously easy to find strawberry Fanta in Dallas.

I always grouped strawberry Fanta with those esoteric soft drinks that take a good Internet tip and a full gas tank to find, but in Dallas, strawberry Fanta's everywhere -- including in my building's vending machine, where three buttons are devoted to it.

Strawberry Fanta drinkers have apparently won big in life's fizzy drink lottery. I'm guessing the soda situation's not so simple for fans of Fanta Zero Lime, caffeine-free diet vanilla Coke and Minute Maid orange lemonade.

Now the Coca Cola Co. is tapping into those frustrated teetotalers' cravings with a new high-tech fountain that debuts in Dallas next week. The touch-screen Freestyle unit, which is already dispensing drinks in Atlanta and Southern California, is stocked with concentrate cartridges for more than 100 Coke brands. Imagine what a beverage-blending kid could do with that: Cherry Powerade and Pibb Xtra? Yes! Vault Red Blitz and Diet Barq's? Absolutely!

Coke's publicist refused to reveal just where the company plans to install its first Freestyle unit, saying only it's a "Dallas restaurant" and that more outlets will follow in July. In California and Georgia, Freestyles have replaced standard dispensers at certain Jack in the Box, Pei Wei, Subway, Burger King, Popeyes and Wendy's locations.

Look for the Freestyle to show up somewhere, sometime next week. In the meantime, you may have to make do with yet another bottle of strawberry Fanta.

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