Coke Heads.

This picture of several Doctor Pepper knockoffs is making the rounds of the web and is unattributed, although this particular version is pulled from BoingBoing.
Notably absent is Mr. Pibb although if you’ve tried the current version, Pibb Xtra, you know that leaving it out is an act of mercy because it is to Mr. Pibb what New Coke was to Coke, but only if New Coke had also been flavored with lemon, durian, and Borax.
New Coke was of course prompted by the devastating Cola Wars of the 1980’s, a conflict which had been brewing since the very early days when both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola contained real cocaine and people were slipping on banana peels everywhere, prompting the very first anti-littering campaign and the slogan “Keep America Beautiful”, followed by the very first anti-loitering campaign and the slogan “Keep America Beautiful–Stay At Home”, but that’s another story.
Too often overlooked are some of the other great soft drink conflicts of the 20th Century, so here they are.
Lest we forget.

Pepsi Challenge 1975-1984

The Great Bare Knuckle Root Beer Brawl Of ’29

The Tang Altercation 1969-1973

The Nehi Conflict 1950-1954

The Great Fresca Fracas 1991

The Ascent Of Mountain Dew 1953

The Moxie Square-Off 1949-1951

Sun Drop v. RC Cola (Supreme Court Case, 1954)

The Shasta-Fanta Scrimmage 1984-1985

The Cheerwine And Big Red Ruckus (limited to Shakey’s Pizza parlors in the Midwest) 1973-1982

The Sarsaparilla Shoot-Out of Aught Seven

The Donnybrook of Shloer 1916-ongoing


  1. Allison

    OK, now that’s some funny shit. Fresca Fracas being my favorite, mostly because I love me some Fresca. My mother was, for many years, a Tab drinker. When I think of my youth, my mother was a Tab drinking, Big Red chewing, Salem menthol smoking woman. She gave up the cigs first, then the gum, and finally Tab. She drinks coffee now as her caffeine source. But I prefer a cold beverage in the AM. Used to be Diet Dr. Pepper, then Coke Zero, and now, in an effort to wean myself off the Demon Aspartame… unsweet tea with a little bit of Stevia.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I had forgotten Tab. I had an aunt who drank Tab by the gallon–but didn’t smoke or drink alcohol, so I guess we all have our vices. I also prefer a cold beverage in the morning but mine is cold coffee with a little milk in it–I add some sugar if I feel the need for an extra boost. Victor Hugo used to do the same thing and I figure if it was good enough for him…well, I doubt I’ll write anything like Le Miserables, but at least I have a way to get going in the morning.

  2. Chuck Baudelaire

    We lost many a good man to the Nehi Conflict. Or as history will know it, the Nehi Police Action.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      To Walter O’Reilly of Ottumwa, Iowa, it will always be known as The Grape War.

  3. Jay

    I’m glad you’re commemorating these terrible times.
    I’m a diehard Diet Pepsi girl myself, and I WOULD go to the mattresses for it.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s always good to have a signature drink, especially one that will Pep-see you through.

  4. Ann Koplow

    For the love of God, Chris, I have no altercation with this post.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      In that case I’ll happily get you a cup of tea.

  5. Kristine @MumRevised

    My mother was in a Pepsi Challenge commercial. She was a woman on the street surprised by her result and a paid actress. So the tales of The Great Fresca Fracas are likely greatly exaggerated.
    But you did miss the all-too-true 7-Up-Your-Sprite Series of the late 70s. The mess was Un-believable.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s amazing that your mother got to be in a Pepsi Challenge commercial.
      And I’m mortified that I missed the 7-Up-Your-Sprite Series of the late ’70’s. I will confess to being on the 7-Up side, because of the incomparable Geoffrey Holder.

  6. Arionis

    Love this post. It reminds me of when my dad would take me fishing as a kid. At the dock of a lake where we’d often go, there was a vending machine that had something called “Delaware Punch”. It’s the only place I ever saw it and I loved it. I would always save my change if I knew we were going fishing there. I think some of the allure was that I was in Texas enjoying a drink from this far away land called Delaware. Now I live four hours away from Delaware and go to the casino in Dover often. Yet I have never seen any punch there.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s fascinating. A quick search turned up that Delaware Punch originated in Ohio and has no official connection to Delaware. It’s mainly sold in the South, but the bottled version is no longer legal in the U.S. because of the red dye used. So if you’re ever in Mexico you might be able to find a bottle of Delaware Punch. From one exotic place to another.


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