How the “Woke” Coke Company drove the world’s biggest Pibb fan away
I fell in love with Mr. PiBB as a 10-year old kid in 1976. I’m from the New York City area, where Mr. PiBB was never available, and in its current incarnation as Pibb Zero, it’s still not available today (except on a very few Coke Freestyle fountains).
The summer of 1976 was a turning point. I was a huge fan of Julius Erving and the New York Nets of the ABA. Dr. Pepper and Sugar Free Dr. Pepper were the official drinks of the team and I think those were the only drinks you could buy at their home games at Nassau Coliseum. After the Nets won the 1976 ABA Championship against the Denver Nuggets, the ABA folded, with four teams, including the Nets being absorbed into the NBA. Dr. J was eventually sold to the Philadelphia 76ers. I was angry at the Nets, and by extension Dr. J and Dr. Pepper.
That summer, my parents sent me to Camp Naarim in Fleischmanns, New York, where they sold Mr. PiBB at the canteen. I had never seen it before. It was the most delicious thing I ever tasted. It was love at first sip. I spent all of my canteen allowance on this wonderful nectar of the Gods. Returning to New York City after the summer, I was PiBB free until my family took a road trip to Florida. And there he was; my old friend, PiBB. I could care less about Disney World or the beaches, I just wanted to get my hands on some PiBB.
In 1979, on my 8th grade class trip to Washington, we met with the late, great Senator Jacob Javits at the Capitol. I snuck away from the group and was able to locate a Coke machine in a basement where I was able to buy a few cans of Mr. PiBB. Maybe I was the original Capitol Insurrectionist, but it was for a good cause.
On a summer camp trip to the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, I was all too briefly reunited with my dear friend Mr. PiBB. When I spent a gap year overseas after high school, Mr. PiBB was a stowaway in my luggage. When I got my driver’s license, I would take road trips to obscure places, like Aberdeen, Maryland and Scranton, Pennsylvania, where I could stock up on my favorite beverage. Those were the closest places to New York City where PiBB was available.
I happened to be in Texas a month before my wedding, and I shipped a dozen cases of PiBB back to Brooklyn to be served at the ceremony.
Up until this month I would go to restaurants that had PiBB Xtra on the Coke fountain, not to eat, but just to grab a PiBB. When I was away on business or vacation, one of the first things I did was check whether I was in a “Pibb town” and if I was, I drank up.
After Mr. PiBB gave me diabetes (I forgave him), I switched to Diet Mr. Pibb, and after the rebrand, to Pibb Zero. When I went to the movies I made sure it was a theater with a Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain so I could get an extra large Pibb Zero (with many free refills, including one refill to go after the show). I loudly voiced my displeasure at convenience store clerks and restaurant workers if their establishments replaced Pibb Zero with Diet Dr. Pepper in their Coke Freestyle machines (that means you, Wawa).
Mr. PiBB went down good. I put it in my head. I downloaded the jingles from their 1970s commercials to my phone. I’ve received retro Mr. PiBB t-shirts as gifts. Friends returning to New York from out of town frequently brought back a bottle of Pibb for me. I was the most loyal PiBB drinker in the world.
That all changed a few weeks ago.
When the elected government in the state of Georgia passed a very fair voting rights law, our President declared it (falsely) to be an “atrocity” and had the nerve to lie and call it “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” What made it even more abhorrent was the comment by Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey, who said it was “crystal clear and unequivocal, this legislation is unacceptable.” Mr. Quincey obviously made this statement in his effort to not alienate the woke population and in my opinion it was purely a business decision, made to avoid boycotts by a segment of the population. Quincey said the legislation was wrong, that it needed to be remedied, and that Coke would continue to advocate for that.
Sorry, Mr. Quincey, this legislation is not wrong. It actually expands the time Georgians have to vote. It also requires voters to show ID, something I am sure your employees are required to do when they enter your facilities. Something all Americans must do to receive a COVID vaccine, to board a plane, to borrow a book from the library. The claim that having to show ID to vote is a form of voter suppression is ridiculous. That you would make the statement you made shows that you are just following the popular, left-wing narrative.
As of now, I am done with all Coca-Cola products, including my beloved Mr. PiBB, Pibb Xtra and Pibb Zero. This divorce is not something I ever thought would happen, but I have already found a new partner in life. I have switched to Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar. I’m a Pepper. He’s a Pepper. She’s a Pepper. We’re a Pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too? Be a Pepper. Drink Dr. Pepper.