Is coke with your meal really fucking necessary?

Embiggen the Dom-age

Project play-by-play

I think you’ll agree: this is a question to stump the ages. But I accept the ponderous challenge and shall apply much fuzzy logic and supreme hungover intellect to it. No better way to spend a fine and relaxed Sunday.

Thinky time

When I’m forced to think of Coke, this is always – always – the first thing I think of.

I remember the first time I REMEMBER having a Coke. It was at the farm next door. In Australia. On a hot summer’s afternoon. The afternoon when I found the body. I was nine. And excited. Not just because all the adults were bubbling with the news of a found body, but because I was offered a genuine Coca-Cola.

I can’t remember if we were there because our phone wouldn’t work and Mum needed to call the police, or what? At that time, our phone system was still operator based. You cranked the handle on the old black phone and Mrs… Bannigan? would answer at the exchange and put you through. (And listen in, by all accounts).

Anyway, this is well and good and all, but the coke. Let’s get back to the coke. We were at the farm next door, The Tanners place. They had a pool – luxury! – and I got a coke.

I remember it because it was in a glass bottle and I was excited. A real coke! Just like in the commercials! We didn’t drink coke at home. Not that my parents were against coke or soft drink, just that we’d get the blue and white brand stuff and that’s just not exciting. Not like Coke, with its glass bottle and white letters and cold-to-the-touch sexiness. Coke was so American. So ethereal and dreamy to me. I ranked it right up beside the mythical Twinkies and Sea Monkeys I’d see advertised in the back of comic books. What a country!

Memories like this taint the thought process. Because what I’m talking about here is the brand. It’s a perception. An ideal. A vapor. And this is not about the brand. This is about the necessity of having it with your meal.

So I tamped that thought down.

Went back to the initial question. Coke with my chow.

If the answer is yes…

Well, there is a certain Feng Shui to a table top setting at dinner. Plates and condiments, cutlery and glasses. There’s a whole science to fork and knife placement and where best to set napkins. Perhaps the glass of Coke is necessary simply because without it, the whole thing falls into disarray? That without it sitting on the table, humanity’s knees buckle and we all fall down, and bloody hell, there goes this universe’s neighborhood!

So my first idea was to do a table top aerial view depicting the geometric mathematics that go into ensuring the balance of items on the table. Perhaps lay out the table with white china and overlay a sort of blueprint dividing the table into quadrants and angles and notes explaining why things have to be just so.

And perhaps there is more at stake than the universe (if that’s possible). What if a waitresses job depends on her asking if you want that coke? What if it’s the damn highlight of her damn day?! Very unlikely. Scrap that.

Random memory – coke sweat. It’s the only time I’ve ever worked on a project involving Coca-Cola and this is what I remember – zooming in to an image of a coke bottle with water sliding down the side in fat, happy drops of what is termed coke sweat. Not sure if that’s the official term, but it’s what we called it. Next time you see a print ad, pay attention to the coke sweat. It’ll be the most perfectly alluring, deliciously thirst quenching, heart-palping thing you’ve ever seen.


And then I was back thinking about the first time I had coke and so I wrote it down just in case something came out of that.

Still on the ‘yes’ answer. What if it was a side view of the table instead. Showing Atlas beneath, struggling under the weight of that coke not placed on the table. A world off-kilter. This idea made me think of Discworld. Of the turtle moving through the cosmos with the world on its back. Stupid Brain. Come back. Come back over here!

After a few more discarded thoughts, I settled on the idea of a coke ocean, wild with swell, and things floating around in it. The salt shaker, a human being, the driftwood of dinner.

This would be a No execution, obviously. Drowning in Coke. I would learn how to turn a photograph of the ocean coke colored, so there’s a lesson. Plus how to Photoshop floaty things in this ocean so they look like they’ve been there all along.

Time to get cracking!

Total thinky time = 1 hour

Prepy time

I started a fairly extensive photo search for a choppy sea, starting with Creative Commons Flickr photos that allow altering/adding to for non-commercial use. In the past, I’ve found this to be a useful tool in finding really good photography that you can use in your personal projects without feel like you’re being a bit of a dick and using people’s photos illegally.

People who share this way usually upload high-res images, and I wanted high-res to make my sea of Coke.

Wait. Is that a loose thread there? Don’t pull it!

Ah, crap. The more I dicked around looking for the perfect photo, the more I realized this was going to be difficult. I could see the image I wanted in my head, and it didn’t exist. Time was being wasted looking for an image that just wasn’t there. And that was eating into the time that I planned on learning how to make object ‘float’ in a choppy sea. I panicked a bit. It was a stupid idea anyway. Death. Death to it and all its scrappy children!


I googled Coke, hoping for a bolt of inspiration to fling itself down and hit Brain right in a painful part of its cortex, or something. At the same time, I began kicking the Mythbusters football around. All those stupid myths about coke. The cleaning your loo, stuff. The steak dissolving stuff. It got me back on the mathematical equation line. Perhaps there’s a way to answer the question using mathematics? This, plus that, equals a donkey, and whaddya know? Yes, coke with your meal is really necessary. Or not.

So the idea morphed. I was going to write a mathematical equation based on numbers and statistics to do with the mythology of coke and thereby get a logical answer to the question.

Anyone who knows me, knows full well that I will go a universe out of my way to NOT think about maths. So, this was going to be quite a challenge for me.

In order to write these fake equations, I needed to familiarize myself with the language of maths – the symbols, the structures – and the stats and facts of coke. Even the fake ones. In fact, the more fake stuff I could throw in there, the better. It needed to be ludicrous. It needed to make no sense, but appear thoughtful and logical at the same time.

Two thought starters for how I was going to overlay the sums.

One – I would snag a shot of Will at the chalkboard in Good Will Hunting and ‘fake in’ this equation. So Will would solve the puzzle and answer the question and OMG, how we’d all love them apples!

But then I found this image (below). Maybe it would be better to find a street scene and overlay the math on that? I’d learn perspective fiddlies and it would be easier to find a high res image (unlike the Good Will Hunting one, which is a shitty screen cap.)

A quick noodle around for an image and it came down to a choice between a photo I took myself:

…and this far superior and gorgeous one by Jeff Wheeler, that came under the Share and Remix (adapt) CC license on flickr.

Vintage Coca-Cola on Brick

I’ll let you work out which one I picked.

Total Prepy time = 3 hours

Sit-down-and-doey Time

First, I decided to find a font I liked. I wanted it to mimic chalk writing on a chalkboard, but also make sure it looked good on brick. I settled for one called Eraser, which I snagged off (an excellent font resource which actually lets you type stuff in before downloading to see if it’s right for what you’re playing with or not. Many of the fonts there are free for non-commercial use.)

And then the trouble began. I could tell fairly early on that the math wasn’t going to work, in the sense that I wouldn’t be able to make an entire piece that could – if someone had the time – be solvable. And what exactly would the answer be anyway? A number? The question is a yes/no question, what good is a number?

Time to go full ludicrous. I had to turn up the dial on dumb math. Of course it isn’t logical. Neither are half the facts in here. Needless to say, it took quite some time to write all the stupidness, and even then I didn’t have enough. Was scrambling towards the end, trying to make stuff up that wasn’t lame. I partly succeeded. Here are some examples and explanations.

Apparently, if you soak a ham in coke before you bake it, the result will be so moist, mold will be beating down your door just to grow there. I mean, seriously. That can’t be good.

There are two people rumored to know the Coke formula. This is of course utter bullshit. The idea that two executives know it and that they have some kind of secret key system that they have to turn at the same time in order to open a safe or ‘splode the world or something is redonk. Pft to that, I say. Pft!

So Mikey, a precocious advertising tot from a cereal commercial, chows down on a lethal mix of Pop Rocks and Coke and the poor little bugger explodes! Well, that’s the myth. Gripping stuff!

Yeah, mum! Cocaine is cool!

The top part of the fraction is a nod to the old Coke tagline “The pause that refreshes.” What is the correct length for a pause anyway? The bottom part of the fraction can be answered with ‘5 seconds before giving up’, since I don’t have time to be staring at logos looking for cokeheads. The RGB number there is simply the hex value for Coca-cola Red.

According to Coke Lore (and yes, that’s what they call it), the first cherub-faced Santa used in a Coke commercial was in 1931. But they didn’t invent him – because that bastard is REAL! But they also didn’t even invent this way of depicting him. I will say though, that if there has been an increase in people walking up to polar bears and trying to cuddle with them, it’s coke’s fault. They make them SO DAMN CUTE, and them bitches is stone-cold killahs!

Just buy some WD-40. Seriously, it’ll work better. Although it still won’t help with getting that movie off your girlfriend’s DVD.

Some people think there’s pork in Coke. I was hoping for bacon. (There’s a second rumor that states soaking pork in coke causes a flotilla of worms to emerge, like earthworms on a road in the rain. That’s false, but I have such a nice feature running in the theatre of my mind right now!)

Oh, yes. I can be very obtuse at times. Work it out.

Want more? Well, there are still some in the image that I haven’t pulled out here. But this is getting long, so you’ll have to go look for them yourself.

After I’d finished all the math, I was kinda stumped. I had this big disk in the middle of the image and no idea what to do with it. This thing wasn’t coming together AT ALL. For a while, I toyed around with doing a line drawing of the coke bottle in the middle and turn that into a ‘spin the bottle’ kind of thing. Where the disk it rests on is split in two (a yes side and a no side), and the final answer could be achieved by spinning the bottle. And then I thought “Are you on drugs?” and stalked off and sulked on my bike for 40 minutes. I rode pretty angry.

Later, in the shower, I was a bit bummed out that I’d maybe wasted the day making something that wasn’t going to work. And that I was going to have to upload this piece of crap and apologize for it.

“It doesn’t answer anything,” I said to Brain.

“What was the question?”

Ugh. The question was, dear Brain, “Is coke with your meal really fucking necessary?”

Of course. It’s the Real Thing.

Pft. “Coke. The Real Thing.” The really unnecessary thing, you mean.

[silence, except for the sound of water gurgling down the drain]

Archimedes eat your thumpy thing out, I just had a eureka of my own!

Now, this is where I’m going to need some practice in the future. The clock was really running down on this project, and I wanted to build the shape of the bottle out of these words born in the shower. But I had no idea how to do it. So instead of taking the time to research it properly, I just found a quick tutorial, skimmed through it and blammo whammo, here it is. It’ll do the job for now, but I need to get better at working with paths in Illustrator, particularly since the anchor points really affected how the letters laid out in the shape. Now that I’m done, I’ll go back and look into it a bit more, but I wanted to respect my own time limit. These things need to be executed (made), then executed (shot dead and walked away from). By the way, the shape of the coke bottle is called Contour or, more colloquially, the hobble-skirt. So, there’s that. I learned something today.

Stick. Brain. Poke. Rating

Man, this one is hard to judge. I’ve see-sawed from hating the absolute living shit out of it to thinking, meh, it’s not that bad. Time was a bit of an issue – I’d like to have spent longer coming up with smarter math that could actually be solved if someone had time to sit down and do it. In the end, all the figures are a bit of a hodgepodge, but never mind.

Bit meh. 3 sticks.

Learning wise, I did learn how to form a shape with type. That’s about it. And I learnt some stuff about Coke. It was kinda of fun. I’ll take my three sticks and go beat the idea bushes for the next one.

Total Sit-down-and-doey time = 12 hours

YOUR HOMEWORK: Can’t really think of anything. Go make something.

MY HOMEWORK: Write more of the book, idiot.

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