A week in Atlanta–Technology and Soda

This week I’m in Atlanta, Georgia. Home of the CNN, Coke and, currently, a heatwave. It’s our annual internal conference called MGX (Microsoft Global Exchange). I’m expecting it to be an amazing week, with it’s usual astonishing organisation and conference content (could you imagine organising a 12,000 person, 4 day conference, for global delegates?).

We’ll learn a huge amount, but sadly it’s an internal event which gives us an insight into the direction ahead. Of course, all the secrets will be safely locked away in my head! So if I can’t share anything from the conference, what can I share? Well, how about the social side of the conference?

I’m sure I’ll have some more stories to share at the end of the week, but as a taster (yup, pun intended), let me take you back to something I wrote in July 2009, after my first Atlanta trip:

The World of Coke

Well, I though that perhaps I could do a professional job on my visit to Atlanta’s World of Coke – with the “64 soda challenge”.

imageHere’s the scenario – they’ve assembled a big pile of drinks machines, containing 64 of the company’s drinks around the room – grouped by continent. I, and Mike (my Government counterpart, and photographer on this occasion) started on Europe, and worked our way through Asia, Latin America and North America. One cup. 64 fizzy drinks. And a burning desire to do this properly!

Not only did I have Mike with me to record the challenge, but I also took along my notepad, so that I can share with you some of the country highlights!


But before I tell you about the best, how about some of the highlights?

  • Delaware Punch from the Honduras
    Which tasted just like water from a fish tank (the bit I get every week when I’m trying to syphon it off to clean it)
  • Simba from Paraguay
    Which tasted identical to Irn Bru
  • Inca Kola from Peru
    Which was actually okay, but didn’t taste like Cola, and it was lime green.
  • Vegitabeta from Japan
    The label had a picture of a carrot, and a taste to match – like the water you’ve just washed the carrots in it
  • Bargs from North America
    Which tasted like a combination of the stuff you wash your mouth out with at the dentist, with a piquancy of deep heat
  • Fanta Birch Beer from North America
    According to Mike, this smells exactly like the cesspit in the Jorvik Viking Centre. I have no doubt of the accuracy of this, as he was a full time Viking for 6 months – except for weekends, when he had to play a Saxon
  • Mello Yello from North America
    This tastes like it should if you remember the slogan of the 1976 British drought (“If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”)
  • Fanta Strawberry from North America
    Exactly like watered down Calpol
  • Vault from North America
    Had the full depth of Lemon Fairy Liquid, and the full taste of cold, fizzy Lemsip
  • Beverly from Italy
    This was odd, as it had almost no taste, apart from a hint that it’s arrived through a long garden hose pipe.
  • Fanta Pineapple from Greece
    I think you can make this at home if you drop 5 pineapple chunks in a glass of sugar
  • Fanta Exotic from Uganda
    Like fizzy Umbongo, but the blinding colour of a red traffic light
  • Stoney Tangawizi from Tanzania
    Which not only got a prize for great naming, but had a great taste like Ginger Beer used to taste when you grew it yourself on the windowsill
  • Sunfill Menthe from Djibouti
    Was sweet and fizzy but it had the taste of watered down chewing gum
  • Bibo Candy Pine-Nut from South Africa
    It even had a picture of Pine-Nut on the label, but all it tasted of was desiccated coconut

imageimage The drink from England was ‘Kinley Bitter Lemon’, which was a bit bizarre, because none of us had heard of it. And similarly, Beverly, from Italy wasn’t familiar to the half-dozen Italians that were with us. There must be a soft-drinks parallel-universe where people sit drinking Kinley all day, and eating Tunnocks Caramel Wafers (‘a million sold every week’)

And The Winner Is…

imageAnyway, back to the important stuff. The most pleasing drink of all, and a clear winner for both Mike and I was the French one – Nestea white peach. I am a big fan of iced tea when abroad, so I think it’s time we campaigned for more availability in the UK too.

The Soda Effect

imageYou may be wondering what drinking 60 sweet, fizzy drinks does for you? Well, compare the photo below (the ‘after’ shot) with the photo at the top of the article (the ‘before’ shot).

It may not surprise you to hear that I found it difficult to sleep that night!