Thursday, May 5, 2011

The New Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine Is Peachy Keen

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Coca-Cola's new Freestyle soda fountain at the Ferguson Wingstop - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • Coca-Cola's new Freestyle soda fountain at the Ferguson Wingstop
On Monday, Gut Check told you about the slick new devices from Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Pepsi's "social" vending machine is still just a prototype, but Coca-Cola's Freestyle soda fountain is now available in St. Louis at the Wingstop at 10841 West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson. Gut Check stopped by recently to try the machine (and, um, maybe some wings, too), pictured above.

The Freestyle promises you 106 beverage choices. You make your selection using a touch screen, first choosing a brand and then a specific variation. So, for example, you might pick Coca-Cola Zero and then Coca-Cola Zero with lime flavor.

The brand choices, though numerous for a soda fountain, offer no real surprises: Coke, Sprite, Barq's, Fanta, Powerade, Hi-C, Dr Pepper and a few others. The variation comes from the fruit flavors that you can add. These differ from brand to brand -- i.e., you can't mix-and-match sodas with fruit flavors at will. For example, you can add peach to Sprite, but not Coke. You can't add much of anything to Barq's root beer, but you can amp up your Fanta orange soda with another fruit flavor.

If you watch your drink being dispensed, you can see the stream of fruit flavoring as it's mixed into the soda. In my Coca-Cola Zero with lime, that flavoring was a vivid green. Thankfully, the finished product was more or less Coke-colored. The fruit flavors (I also tried orange) are very, very sweet -- much sweeter, to my palate, than what you get if you drink from a can of Cherry Coke or lime-flavored Diet Coke.

Because, God knows, these sodas need to be even sweeter than they already are.

(As an aside, totally unrelated to the Freestyle, I never knew before now that Wingstop has really good fries, freshly cut and perfectly cooked.)

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