A lot of things happened in 1985. We Are The World was recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa, the Discovery channel was introduced to the airwaves, and Back to the Future opened in theaters. In hindsight, 1985 was a very important year in the canon of ‘80s nostalgia. Which is why it’s the perfect year to set the third season of the best Gen-Z helmed show, Stranger Things. But most notably perhaps, 1985 was the summer where the Coca-Cola Company shot itself in the foot by choosing to discontinue its popular recipe and replacing it with “New Coke.”
New Coke claimed to be a sweeter, smoother, and more improved version of Coke. But the Coke fans of the day could not disagree more and because it was 1985, they couldn’t vent on Twitter. Instead, folks boycotted Coca-Cola, made over 400,000 phone calls, and flooded the company with letters demanding the original recipe be brought back.
“If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it,” they say, and the Coca-Cola Company learned that lesson in the hardest way possible. Coke fans were so outraged by the transition to New Coke that the debacle was widely reported on by the New York Times. People wanted to sue. A wine store in Beverly Hills was selling cases of the “Old” Coke at triple the original price.
New Coke was released in April 1985 and on July 11th, the Coca-Cola Company backtracked. The “Old Coke” returned to the market as “Coca-Cola Classic” and New Coke was renamed Coke II. Coke II was quietly phased out in 2002 but Coca-Cola Classic didn’t drop the “classic” until 2009.
But today, Coca-Cola is digging up the old New Coke recipe and is gearing up to release 500,000 cans to be sold online and at select vending machines. In anticipation of the July 4th release of Stranger Things, these cans will drop on Thursday. Netflix is also working with Baskin-Robbins and H&M, among other brands, to roll out a series of promotional Stranger Things products.
Knowledge of this debacle is the mark of a true child of the 1980s. The 35-year old creators of Stranger Things, the Duffer brothers, have known New Coke would be a part of Season 3 since their brainstorming sessions in 2017. The newest Stranger Things trailer is set on a hot summer day in 1985. Mrs. Wheeler is sitting poolside in a new bathing suit. Billy, now a lifeguard, has all the neighborhood moms all hot and bothered, especially Mrs. Wheeler. She cools herself down with a sip of New Coke. “It would have been more bizarre to not include it,” the Duffers told the New York Times.