An alternative title might have been “Coke’s Product Team Has Me Right Where They Want Me,” because I’m not gonna lie — I love the Freestyle vending machines.
If you haven’t run across them yet, Coca-Cola Freestyle machines are basically a touch-screen minigame for ordering your soda. So far I’ve yet to see one that takes bills and coins — the rollout seems to have started with in-house machines at fast food joints, where you pay at the register and get a cup.
Talk about a delightful meeting-place of technology and psychology.
The delivery system for the soda flavors is cribbed from a precision drug-dispensing technology, adapted to pump sugary solutions into soda water instead of potentially lethal chemicals into blood. (Well, okay, it’s still delivering potentially lethal chemicals into your blood, just a little less directly.)
The user interface is just a touch screen, and I’m sure we’re within a decade of seeing these things mounted on fridges in the homes of the suburban nouveau riche.
And “the suicide” — you all made suicides at the soda fountain when you were kids, right? — just got a lot more time-consuming. Burger King had already sort of been courting the custom-mixers with cocktail recipes on their soda fountains, but I think it’s safe to say that the Freestyle machine ups the ante significantly
We are, as I like to say on this blog, living in the age of iTunes. If it can come a la carte, it had better. Package deals are for the Boomers. Even the menus at fast food reflects the shift, to an extent — witness the rise of the Dollar Menu versus the value meal.
It’s like a whole generation of consumers finally realized that it’s not a deal to get french fries for a buck cheaper if you don’t actually want french fries, and also that pushing buttons on soda machines is fun.
The illusion of customization. It’s a dangerous thing — especially when there’s one of these at the Wingstop just down the street. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if Orange Coke will mix with Vanilla Coke to make a Dreamsicle Coke.