Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Label Snobbery Doesn't Just Apply to Handbags: Frank's Screed on Coke (The Kind You Drink)

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for almost two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

Image via Assouline

Dear Purchasers of Soft Drinks,

In a few weeks Assouline—publisher of breathtaking and highly collectible art and design books—will be releasing a tribute to Coca-Cola on the brand’s 125th birthday. A coffee table-sized tome comes in a decorative sleeve and retails for a lot more than most people could ever spend on a book ($650!); but a version more appropriate for displaying on your existing coffee table is within the realm of possibility ($65) and a must-have for design-minded and/or pop culture-obsessed Coke fans. It’s gorgeous—all red and slick with full-bleed, full-color pages bursting with vintage and not-quite-as-vintage advertisements and imagery from the soda’s storied past. Think ‘40s-era ladies-who-lunch, ’80s-era hip hop, a whole slew of presidents enjoying cold ones, Times Square billboards, classic Americana, and stills from iconic commercials (Everybody: “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony!”)

To celebrate the book as well as a related iPad application we can’t really figure out the purpose of (having a coffee table book on a handheld electronic device seems moot to us but we don’t always fully even grasp Facebook so we’ll just leave it at that), Assouline and Coca-Cola put together a little shindig the other week. Taking over a glass-clad space in an architecturally significant building on Manhattan’s far west, the party featured projections of imagery straight from the book, a litany of reality TV-cum-fashion “stars,” and an array of Coke-spiked nibblies and cocktails. Pulled pork was braised in the beverage before being plopped on a tiny bun—Coke slider! A concoction of whiskey and Coke-flavored bitters and other bartenderly things surrounded a gigantic ice cube in actual glassware—a Jack and Coke for the fancy!

We snark (seriously, we can’t not), but the truth is: We love the book and had great fun at the party. For starters, we’re solidly on Team Coke. We eschew coffee for a morning Diet. We ask “Coke or Pepsi?” before ordering a soft drink anywhere—if the answer is Pepsi we’ll “take a water.” We visited the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta (and it was awesome!)

We even made sure every school we've ever voluntarily attended was a Coke Campus before signing on any dotted lines or paying a single red cent. Seriously.

Last week, a like-minded Cokehead (get your mind out of the drug-gutter) forwarded us a link from Vanity Fair. It's headline: “Label Snobbery! Why the Super-Rich Only Drink Coke.” Immediately we assumed this writer, Jamie Johnson, was inspired by the party, or at least the release of the book. Further inspection reveals that he wasn’t. Rather, it was the simple question “When have you ever heard someone order a Pepsi at a country club?”

His response: "Never." Our response: We don't really frequent country clubs because, well, no-one's inviting us to country clubs; but people definitely are not ordering a "rum and Pepsi" at the Soho Grand. The essay is pretty hysterical, totally on point and goes on to detail the absolute and total rejection of Pepsi amongst the country club set, the riches and the smarts, and—of course—the fashion throng.

The reasons are muddled. Johnson suggests that "affluent devotees of the original cola like its history, its pedigree, and its aesthetics—especially the quintessentially American drink’s glass-bottle version." Further: "In more cosmopolitan settings, Coke does get nudged from its top perch, but only by Diet Coke, which escapes occasionally gluttonous, less-refined connotations of regular Coke."

Diet Pepsi recently attempted to give Diet Coke a run for that money amongst the fashion set. They launched "skinny" cans—paying a bunch of people to talk about the new look, throwing parties and stocking the tents at Fashion Week with cases and cases of their chemical swill. But Diet Coke remains "a symbol of chic international living." Meanwhile, Diet Pepsi is available at Pizzeria Uno and Taco Bell. Take from that what you will: We'll be over here being all chic and international.

All that said—at least for us—when it comes to Coke verses Pepsi, it comes down to this anecdote involving a good friend at a birthday party in a swanky hotel suite. As she was heading out one of the younger, louder, awful-er guests spilled the contents of a nearly-full two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi all over the floor. It, inevitably, sloshed all over her. Her only response, an incredulous: "Who drinks Diet Pepsi?"


· Love, Frank [Racked]