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Coke has high hopes for Freestyle machines

Coca-Cola is counting on new high-tech soda fountains to boost soft-drink sales. The new fountains deliver 104 different flavors to users.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Coke's new Freestyle machine is housed in a curved metal shell created by the designers of Ferrari race cars, and features a touch-screen menu. Inside, technology common in measuring tiny doses of chemotherapy drugs is used to release digitally-controlled amounts of concentrate flavor from dozens of plastic cartridges.

But the new machines have been slowed by complicated technology and costs - Coke charges 30 percent more for the Freestyles than traditional fountains. The machines faced problems early on with heavy usage slowing software and problems with overspill. But 500 revamped machines are expected to be shipped out across the U.S. this month that are redesigned to accommodate excess spillage and have a fan to melt discarded ice.

Coke holds 70 percent of the U.S. fountain machine market. Coca-cola was first invented in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton. He didn't intend to create a fizzy soft drink though. His interest was in making French Wine Coca, a cure-all tonic sold mostly to upper-class customers. French Wine Coca's main ingredients were Bordeaux wine and coca leaves. And that first glass of coke? Yeah, it cost just 5 cents.

If you're looking to try out the new Freestyle machines later this month, hopefully you're in one of the following places: Southern California, Atlanta, Dallas, and Salt Lake City. The company says it wants to roll out the machines slowly. You can find exact locations on its Facebook page.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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