Monday, November 14, 2011

MORE REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK

So I went to Fuddrucker's today and had the first burger since returning to the States.  I believe it was only the third burger I've had this year.  Yes, it was excellent - cooked rare with bacon and blue cheese and mayo, and sweet potato fries on the side.  I don't remember Fudd's having sweet potato fries, but have to confess that I didn't visit them very often when living in the States previously.


You must try sweet potato fries if you haven't yet.  When properly made, they are just a bit crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, so naturally sweet they don't need ketchup.  A light dusting of salt perfectly complements the sweetness. And they need to be cooked to order and served really, really hot.  Yum.


But that's not what I want to talk about.


Instead, I want to bring you, my dear readers, up to speed on the new Coca-Cola dispenser.  I was fascinated by the two dispensers sitting side-by-side in the restaurant.  Truly I felt like a country bumpkin going to town for the first time.


These new dispensers have a bit of a "Retro" shape, but are ultra modern and computer-controlled.  The customer touches the screen for the drink selection.  At first I didn't know what to do after getting the ice, but after a few seconds figured out to touch the screen.  There were 18 different kinds of drinks to choose from.   I selected "Diet Coke", my usual.  This was also the first Diet Coke I've had since returning to the US about three weeks ago.


But wait - instead of pouring out Diet Coke, the machine took me to ANOTHER screen, where I had a choice of different flavors of Diet Coke:  Cherry, Vanilla, Lime, and I've forgotten what else.  I think there were about six different choices of flavors.


I went with plain Diet Coke, and the machine automatically knew how much to pour in my glass.


Golly Gee Whiz!


I was so excited I tried to take a picture of the machine with my cell phone, but couldn't figure out how to do this.  There were no other customers there at this odd time of day, so I didn't make a total fool of myself.


Later I looked it up on-line:
The New Coke Dispenser -
Coming Soon to a Restaurant Near You

It turns out this was still experimental as late as 2009, so I haven't been that much out of touch after all.  And - get this - when Coke wants to test market new flavors, they can program the machine to create them.  Customer selections are also uploaded to a central server, to keep tabs on the ever-changing market. 


Yes, I thought this was a bit too much like Big Brother too.


If you want to know more, here's a link to an article with technical information.


And here's a YouTube video of the machine in action.


OK, there you have it:  consumerism at its finest.


-bjd

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