Now Available With Nothing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 | 11:58 pm

Making trip number four to the 'soda fountain' tonight during the recently established Tuesday habit with mates at Mo's Southwestern Grill, I slowed my usual beeline to the Sprite 'tap' (is it called a tap?), and quickly surveyed the competing flavours. All the standards, but then I saw something that rang no bells with me — Mr. Pibb. I have been in the States for about 6 years, but this drink is a mystery to me. I asked around the table, and although it was agreed that this is a Dr. Pepper imitation, no-one was drinking it.

So I checked around the web tonight, and in following Googles main hit for "whats in pibb", I found only a paragraph,including the the intro: "After serving the Pibb-loving community since circa 1995, this site is being retired. If you've been a regular visitor, I'm sure you noticed that I wasn't doing a great job of keeping it up-to-date. For a long time, however, this was still the best Mr. Pibb site on the web."

Now what the hell possesses someone to build a website devoted to a soft drink*? And apparently there's a community! And more curious still, how much competition was there in the cut-throat Mr Pibb web site realm that forced this closure? Perhaps they wanted to retire on top, or perhaps some skullduggery by vicious new competing Pibb web sites convinced them, in da strongest of terms, that retirement was an option. Perhaps he woke up with a Mr. Pibb head in his bed?

It seems Mr. Pibb is not in his popular prime, at least not on the north east coast, as many of the links were dead. And one existing fan site even contained the author's plea:Mr. PiBB is the best soft drink i've ever tasted. I suggest you try it. If anyone knows where I can find this in South Jersey e-mail me."It seems it even escapes its hard core afficionados. But did I discover that it was indeed Coca-Cola's 1972 attempt to thwart the growing competition from Dr Pepper. Well, their second attempt. Initially, in true new generation corporate style, their first attempt was litigation, when they tried sueing the Dr Peppers manufacturers due to some dispute over Coke owning a trademark named "Peppo". In a rare burst of common sense for the judicial trademark system, the attempt failed. So instead they just ripped off the "name rhythm", and made a close copy. But would you settle for a Mister when you needed a Doctor?

Anyhow, the soda tap next to Sprite showed an interesting use of a small amount of space for marketing purposes. You have about 6 square inches in total to show your label and any catchy marketing you can squeeze in. And the Traditional Lemonade tap chose to use it's space to advertise everything it doesn't have:

"Contains 0% juice".

Now, without discussing the merits of having to put a % sign after the number 0, I couldn't work out if this was supposed to be a positive marketing line (for those desperately avoiding anything vaguely natural in their soda), or a health warning? (great for all you people who are allergic to soem unspecified juice).

I look forward to your comments as to how other products could benefit with a "contains 0%" slogan! E.g. Below the nameplate for 253 Granby — 'contains 0% profitability". (cheap shot, but fun!)

* An Aussie/English colloquialism. Taken from the fact that all important carbonated drinks (i.e. beer) are called hard drinks, and everything else with bubbles but without alcohol is a soft drink. It's was a tough country. Made tougher by the fact that ordering a soft drink in Australia does not get you inifinite refills. Mind you, there is nothing like asking a bunch of macho men you've been drinking with at a bar in Sydney if they'd like "another drink, or just a softie?"


At 22/6/05 11:51 am, Blogger Dave(id) said...

Hmmmm, quite the enigma you've stumbled on. The Brookester is quite a Dr. Pepper fan. But when the Doctor is out of the office she'll happily go with the friendly Mister. Kind of like asking for Pepsi and the waitress says how about Coke, "Sure" is what most say. Interesting to know the background of Mr. Pibb.

Not sure on the 0% thing, but still love the fact that they warn you on coffee cups that "the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot." You've got to love a dumbed-down society.

At 22/6/05 12:47 pm, Blogger Major Rakal said...

Dumbest warning tag I ever saw was on a woodstove: "CAUTION: Gets hot in use."

At 25/6/05 3:44 am, Anonymous Stoovie said...

I've seen a warning label on the back of a chocolate bar containing peanuts (could have been a Snickers) read "May contain traces of nuts." I would certainly hope so.

Also, some Aussie Subway's now give you free soft drink refills, as do many Hungry Jacks. Mind you, I can't say I've ever gone to my local (a.k.a. "pub" or "bar" for all the non-Aussies in the audience :D ) and asked for a "large softie" before (and if you're at all wondering, no I'm not going to try now)...

At 25/6/05 7:20 am, Blogger Shocho said...

I would like to point out that there is no period in "Dr Pepper." I used to typeset price lists for soft drinks, and this was a very weird thing indeed. If you look on the can, it has no period. I'm not sure about Mr. (Mr?) Pibb. No hyphen in 7up, as I recall. Soft drink spelling is weird.

Most people I know who like Dr Pepper will not settle for Mr Pibb, very snobby indeed. I am like that in fact. Don't settle for less than a degree, that's my philosophy.

At 25/6/05 3:53 pm, Blogger Aussie-Askew said...

Interesting news from Stoovie re: the slight penetration of infinite refills into the Aussie fast food market (and at 3c cost per drink, I should bloody-well hope so!). I am hoping there's some restuarants there now that do the same with coffee?


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