Fox 5’s Josh Board loves OPP: Other People’s Popcorn. How do you know when Josh is at a screening? Walk into the auditorium carrying a Coke and a bag of corn and within seconds there’ll be a, “Hey, buddy. I see you bought popcorn” to greet you.
The best was the time Josh noticed me standing at the Gaslamp concession stand about to purchase a movie-time snack. The difference between the $7 medium corn I had ordered and the large bag that comes with a free refill was a dollar. “I’ll split it with you,” Josh said handing me a buck.
Not true of my pal Dan Wolfson, who the other day was kind enough to pop for the concessions. Instead of taking the customary “You fly, I’ll buy” route, Dan was gracious enough to fetch the snacks while I acted as a human coat holding our seats.
One sip of the Coke, and I knew something was wrong. It wasn’t what my mom used to refer to as a “pishox Coke.” That phenomenon occurs when a half-consumed 16-oz. contour bottle — with only a bent metal cap acting as a stopper to keep the air out — sits in the refrigerator for days, causing its contents to go flat. This had more of a medicinal taste, as if a bottle of cherry-flavored Robitussin had made its way into the mix.
I found the answer during my post-show trot to the parking garage. There to the right of the concession stand stood a bank of shiny new Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. For those not familiar with the space-age soft-drink dispenser, the Freestyle is a touchscreen soda fountain that in theory offers consumers up to 100 different flavor variations on their favorite beverages.
Testing began in the summer of 2009 at 60 locations across the country. Today there are that many dispensers in San Diego County alone. My first encounter with the daunting multi-flavored vending machine was at the Five Guys in Hillcrest. By the time I had finished figuring out how to get the damn thing to dispense a straight Coke, the line behind me was snaking out the door.
It’s a great idea in theory but one that will never capture the desired taste results until Coke figures out a way to flush the tubes after each usage. I have yet to sample a glass of original-recipe Coke that isn’t somehow tainted by all the fruit-flavored options that previously flowed through its arteries.
If you want to experience the high of a pharmaceutical-flavored soft drink, order a cherry or vanilla Pepsi next time you’re at D. Z. Akin’s. Just keep it away from the kids, lest everyone in the family gets hooked.