A tryout was held outside of Neyland Stadium on Tuesday, but it had nothing to do with Tennessee football or athletic competition.
Coca-Cola handed out free cans of its new flavor, Coke Orange Vanilla, at Neyland Stadium's Gate 21. A tweet from the official Tennessee Athletics Twitter account promoted the giveaway, telling followers, “Our friends at @CocaCola have got something for you.”
It's the first new flavor for the actual Coke in years, one that Coca-Cola hopes can survive the initial taste-tests and stick around for the storied beverage brand's next chapters.
But how did the uniquely-flavored Cokes stack up?
The can appeared to be a take on the traditional Coke can, but branded specifically for the orange-vanilla flavor. The majority of the can was a light orange color, with the normal Coke red in a half-circle on the front and layering the nutrition facts. An animated orange slice sat in the red portion of the front.
I was a fan of the presentation. The light orange color looked the way the drink tasted, almost symbolizing the airy taste of the orange and vanilla. It's not overpowering, similar to what the taste ultimately proved to be.
At first thought, the almost-bitter taste of Coke wouldn't seem to mesh well with the sweeter, ice cream-esque flavor akin to orange and vanilla. While Coke has experimented with other interesting flavors before, some ultimately more popular than others, this was one that I initially wasn't sure would work.
However, I am a fan of both orange and vanilla flavors, so I was willing to try it, yearning for satisfaction over disappointment.
It was exactly what I hoped for: a well-balanced mix between orange sherbet and typical Coke. The orange-vanilla flavor wasn't overbearing at all; rather, it provided a nice addition to the Coke flavor you would expect. If anyone is familiar with the “Vol Freeze” milkshake that is served at the Student Union on campus, to me, it tastes as if it was mixed with regular Coke (which wouldn't be a bad idea anyways).
This is a taste that I can get behind, a beverage I would choose over multiple other sodas on the market today.
Coca-Cola has had more success over the years than most companies can claim, but that doesn't mean it's content with its tried-and-true flavors. Coke Orange Vanilla is a chance for Coca-Cola to further curb the market that it has widely dominated during its history, and it tested its hopes at UT on Tuesday.
With a sleek can design and a satisfying, non-overbearing taste, Coke's new orange vanilla flavor was a hit with me. The company doesn't seem to be trying too hard with this one, which is not always the case when food and beverage producers experiment; instead, it's a concept that hits the mark without reaching too far or striving too little.