This past week, I had the opportunity to try out one of Coca-Cola’s new Freestyle machines at a nearby Wendy’s here in the Greater Toronto Area. For those unfamiliar with the Freestyle machine, it is described as follows on the product’s Facebook page:
“Coca-Cola Freestyle is the brand name for a new Coca-Cola fountain dispenser that uses microdosing technology to dispense more than 100 sparkling and still beverage brands from a single freestanding unit. The new unit has approximately the same footprint as today’s six-or eight-valve dispensers.
“Coca-Cola Freestyle, the first in a family of new dispensers, creates branded beverages by blending concentrated ingredients with water and sweetener at the point where the beverage is dispensed via proprietary PurePour Technology. It does not use syrup, but instead uses concentrated ingredients stored in cartridges in the dispenser cabinet.”
You can also see videos from when the Freestyle machines were first being rolled out in Atlanta locations in 2009 here.
My first encounter with one of these machines was at a Six Flags in Maryland. Forget Gotham City, this was the main attraction for me, once I found it. Unfortunately, the selections had been pretty thoroughly picked over, and I settled for a Minute Maid lemonade with orange flavoring added to it. As a fan of Minute Maid lemonade and Hi-C orange (but only after Ecto Cooler, R.I.P.), it was quite delicious.
As for the Canadian version, I was met with a little disappointment, even though it was more fully-stocked. One of the features touted early on was the vast variety of flavors available, including flavors which had previously only been available in other countries, such as those in Europe.
Despite this, the screens on this machine seemed a bit less crowded than on the illustrations on the website. As it turns out, one of my favorite beverages was missing: Mello Yello.
It makes sense, insofar as that it isn’t available in Canada– I tend to stock up in the U.S., and have even had people send me bottles in the mail. Still, knowing what this machine is capable of made this particular omission sting. And as much as I’d like to try cherry, grape, or orange variations, I just want a way to get the regular drink here without having my packages ripped to shreds by Customs (true story).
Anyway, I didn’t get to try a lot of choices on the machine– there are over a hundred, after all, and I’d need to get a small sample cup and go through them one by one to really even come close in a short time. The last article I wrote about this noted the absence of Hi-C orange at McDonald’s, but since then, they’ve brought it back under a Fruitopia label (only to now take away the delicious McDonaldland cookies instead). Even so, I passed on the Hi-C for the moment, opting for an encore of the Minute Maid orange-lemonade.
Before that, though, I did try something new I’d been dying to sample: Coca-Cola Orange. And it wasn’t bad, though I have to admit that the orange flavoring was a bit overpowering. Not in a way that the beverage was too strong or anything, mind you; rather, it tasted more of orange soda with a hint of cola than a cola with a hint of orange. It was good, just not what I was expecting.
I look forward to trying more sometime, and maybe with any luck, they’ll add Mello Yello here. And can you imagine if they brought back Ecto Cooler? Ghostbusters 3 is in the works, right? This needs to happen!
In the meantime, if you want to try the Freestyle machine for yourself, you can use this handy online locator to see where they’re available!