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Coke Debuts New Vanilla Flavor

May 8, 2002

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POMFRET, Conn. (AP) _ The owners of the little Vanilla Bean Cafe had a Coke and a great big smile Wednesday.

The eatery in this New England town of 3,500 became the place Coca-Cola Co. debuted its Vanilla Coke, the newest variation of the classic soft drink.

About 500 people _ including many schoolchildren who coincidentally had the day off _ were on hand as the delivery truck rolled in about 10:45 a.m. It was greeted by a high school chorus and town officials.

First Selectman David Patenaude declared it ``Vanilla Day″ in the town.

``It’s a lot of fun for the town of Pomfret to have all this vitality and celebrity,″ he said.

The 40 cases dropped off at the restaurant were gone in minutes, devoured by a crowd that pushed to get at the 20-ounce plastic bottles.

Julian Burke, 15, downed his first bottle in a few seconds and shoved four more in his pants pockets.

``It’s a lot like cream soda, only it’s better,″ he said. ``I like it a lot.″

Brothers Brian and Barry Jessurun, who own the Vanilla Bean Cafe, also run a catering business and will be handling Coca-Cola’s 116th anniversary dinner for 600 people in New York on Wednesday night.

``It’s a great honor,″ Brian Jessurun said.

Coca-Cola executives say they chose the small cafe after finding the name on the Internet.

``Our people came up here and fell in love with it,″ said Chris Lowe, a senior vice president.

Vanilla Coke is a line extension of Coca-Cola, to be available in the same bottle and can configurations and for the same prices as Coke.

The company is hoping to replicate the success of rival PepsiCo Inc.’s Code Red, a red version of its Mountain Dew soda. Analysts say such product variations are an important selling element, particularly among younger consumers, to attract new sales.

Vanilla Coke is scheduled to be available nationwide by May 15.

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