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White Coke (wikipedia.org)
478 points by annapowellsmith on July 17, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 236 comments

Pepsi made a clear cola in the early 90's called Crystal Pepsi:


Here's an old pic of me drinking it. (and eating a turkey leg).


I literally never imagined that a top comment on any HN post would consist of a picture from the 90's of a guy who is not Steve Jobs, Wosniack, Bill Gates or any other tech legend simply eating turkey and drinking a pepsi from the time.

pud is a tech legend (fked company, tiny letter, adhdlabs, ...)

You forgot Blippy, though I'm sure pud himself is trying to forget that :)

FYI: Wozniak.

Leave it to Beaver T-Shirt. You're 90s style is something no hipster can ever achieve through cultural osmosis. You are a snowflake.

Godspeed, Crystal Pepsi fan. May we all meet again in the glorious, clear syrup'ed Elysium of the afterlife.

i'm surprised there's no crystal gravy on that turkey leg.

How did you escape from that dungeon?

Maybe he's still there. Or he's renting it out to the government to handle Gitmo / deportation overflow.

What camera was that photo taken with? The quality is really good. (For the early nineties) Is it a scan of a film camera?

The dust and other spots imply a scan of a developed photo (not the negative, as the dust would be dark there, not bright).

And I'm amazed that people are amazed by photo quality from two decades ago. The resolution of standard 35-mm film was fairly hard to achieve in consumer digital cameras until recently (or maybe it still is, but I guess DSLRs have gone consumer enough by now).

Yep. Historians are gonna find low-res digial camera pics extremely puzzling, as the quality of photography in their archives goes up and up and up from the invention of photography - then completely plummets when people start using digital comaeras - then plummets to even worse than black and white photography from a hundred years ago, when it comes to shitty phone or web cams that happen to capture something interesting, then slowly climbs up again.

I think it was a sacrifice of quality for the convenience of digital cameras. It was a great joy to be able to download and view photos immediately after taking them, rather than send the film to be developed. It was also extremely liberating when I realized I could buy a 1GB card and store photos taken over an entire trip. The freedom to not worry and keep clicking was a huge departure from the experience with standard 24 shot film rolls. I remember trips with my family where we'd spend lots of time just looking for shops selling film.

For me, the most liberating thing was "not wasting film", I didn't have to worry about taking a bad shot and could take more risks or take pictures of just about anything without worrying about using up a finite amount of rather expensive film. If a picture was bad or shot from the hip and came out as something other then intended, I simply could now delete it and the space could be used by another photo. With film once that negative is exposed, that's it, you now wonder what picture you won't be taking now because you're going to run out of film sooner, so you wouldn't take as many pictures unless you spent a lot of time setting up the shot or posing, you lose a lot of in the moment opportunities.

When I got my first digital camera, I went nuts with it on my trip that I bought it for, looking back at the photos I took years after, it was kind of obnoxious now that I think about it how often I pulled it out. Many times to the point of missing just experiencing the place/situation I was in rather then wanting to get a picture of the experience. Thankfully, the novelty wore off, but now I have to remind myself, "Hey, you have a camera, you should get a picture of this." or find myself realizing it a little too late.

> It was also extremely liberating when I realized [...]

I was expecting something much different here. Something to do with the lack of a requirement for someone at the photography lab to view the photos while developing the prints. I know I found that liberating, ifyouknowwhatImean.

Sadly, the cycle has looped again, and there is once again someone in the "lab" looking at all your pictures, unless you eschew all modern conveniences like Apple's photo stream or Dropbox's autouploadapalooza.

Which is basically, in terms of relative convenience, the equivalent of developing your own film in the 1990s...

Not really the same thing. Yes, for anything you upload it's possible someone can look at it. That's very different from knowing that someone in your local neighborhood definitly looked at them.

I don't know. Hooking up a USB cable doesn't require a darkroom.

Historians likely won't, as the fragility of our media and our near-ubiquituous use of disk encryption will likely result in almost all of our modern data being either unreadable or unusable.

Archivists are continually saving artifacts from our time, both analog and digital. There'll be plenty to study in the future.

No worries, all the pictures will be safely archived by the NSA.

Encryption, maybe. But I wouldn't count on fragile media remaining beyond the next 20 years. Some crystal based storage mediums have silly things done to them, like being heated to 1,000 degrees for two hours, to demonstrate their durability.

What is fragile media?

Well, by reasonable context anything you can't leave lying around for a couple of decades and expect to work, or stick in a reasonably constant environment and expect to be around in a hundred years. HDDs, optical discs - that sort of thing, I'd consider to tend to be fairly fragile.

Anything that wouldn't be accessible to historians in the same sense that photographic stuff is basically.

Color film degrades fairly quickly. It won't last 100 years unless it's constantly climate controlled.

Shouldn't factory-pressed CDs and DVDs last indefinitely?

It's easy to think that, but no. The materials will degrade and the data will become unreadable sooner than you think, probably on the order of 10s of years, depending on the manufacturing quality.

Instagram filters are really going to throw them for a loop.

Same with music reproduction. Edison cylinders to 78s, to LP records, to CDs, and then quality plunges with .ra and .mp3 files.

No this trend was ongoing, with small convenient lower quality consumer cameras being introduced ever since the Brownie in 1899. The 35mm camera was worse than medium format but much cheaper and more convenient.

Black and white from the late Victorian era can be stunning as lenses have got no sharper (in fact less sharp in the centre of field just more even and better for smaller film) while wet plate and albumen were a very well matched combination.

Do you find it puzzling that people favored black-and-white TVs to cinema screens?

I think historians will be able to figure this one out. Especially when people are aware of it at the time it's happening.

> Especially when people are aware of it at the time it's happening.

I think this is the point: the poster was seemingly unaware that digital camera quality has been worse than analog until recently.


Current historians view the 18th Century as part of the modern period (though most of it is the tail end of the early modern period.) So, to the extent that historians in the period of the future under consideration view the early 21st century the way historians now view the 18th, it won't be very hard for them to see it as modern times.

Historians have broader perspective than you give them credit for.

Haha ... i can imagine entire journals devoted to the field of Photography resolution historical changes and it's socio-cultural origins. :)

Historians won't but students in freshman level history classes probably will.

Same with the monitors ( CRT => LCD )

> I'm amazed that people are amazed by photo quality from two decades ago

It's partly because the media (especially TV news) deliberately blurs and desaturates pictures to indicate what decade they are from. Which doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the film technology of the time. But it is easy to forget that they are doing this and assume that the original photos are really like this. Why would 70s and 80s photos be desaturated more than 60s photos for example.

Even for digital media (e.g. youtube) tools like this are popular: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChY8IIc_fv4

Are they doing this with tv shows and movies? Sometimes I am amazed to see how blurry some programs from the 80's seem. Even some movies that were shot in 35mm seem blurry. It must be the copy that they have at that tv and not the original roll. If not Idon't know what's happening here. Movies from the 40's seem to have better resolution than more modern ones.

Many shows were shot on 35mm film and then telecined to tape for editing and FX. Updating it to HD would mean going back to the camera negatives, figuring out which portions were used in which cuts, scanning it, re-conforming all the cuts and then re-doing all the FX.

This was done recently for the first few season of Star Trek: TNG and the difference is amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZQetJVRu0I

Many TV shows are done from tape masters instead of the 35mm because of the cost of transferring them or that the originals were lost. The tapes vary in quality but a popular format (type-c 1 inch) used from the late 70s to late 90s is similar to DVD. Movies are always stored on 35mm which can be better than a blu-ray if scanned properly.

Many TV shows from the 80s and 90s were mastered on analog tape (U-Matic or Betacam) with variable quality (250 lines on U-Matic, 350 lines on Betacam SP) but very low by today standards.

Furthermore, these sources are often cropped/zoomed/stretched from 4:3 to 16:9, which lowers quality even more.

How many good pictures did people see from back then, I wonder. You print something up in a newspaper you're losing a lot of information, and the little palm size prints that shops used to do aren't exactly great either.

And then there's the difficulty of producing good pictures. I remember, when I was younger, my father gave me his old 35-mm. No auto focus, manual settings for everything. Even buying the right film required some knowledge of what you were going to be doing. I can see why people would find good pictures from that long ago surprising, it was harder to do - you had to invest time to get good at it. Even if you knew what you were doing from a technical perspective - You could shoot a roll of film and get three or four good pictures.

Heh. What I find surprising is how good the really old pictures are. Boer war/Victorian kinda things. Considering what they had to work with at the time.... There's some damn nice stuff out there. If you can get yourself a tour of a photographic archive from a newspaper or something, it's well worth doing ^_^ There's stuff there that's never been digitised just because there's so much of it and high resolution scans on something like a drum scanner are so expensive to do.


> The resolution of standard 35-mm film was fairly hard to achieve in consumer digital cameras until recently

To be fair, the obsession some people have with resolution, without regard to like noise (goes up hugely when you cram more pixels - so to speak - into a small frame sensor) and colour balance has probably done significant harm to the evolution of digital cameras.

Not that I'm saying you are one of those people, but thought I'd mention it for random readers ^^;

I think we have a mental image of crappy VHS-esque images and whatnot (from that time)... but if people actually went back and scanned film images with good modern scanners, you'd have some awesome quality stuff.

I'd say resolution/sharpness in consumer digital cams has surpassed film, but digital (personal opinion) lacks the tones, depth, highlight-details, and overall 'magic' look of film :)

>And I'm amazed that people are amazed by photo quality from two decades ago.

If I was unaware of the quality of film, my first instinct wouldn't have been to ask if the photo was a scan of one.

Photo was taken (by my mom) with an old 35mm point-and-shoot. I scanned the print recently, using a modern scanner.

Most likely a scan of a film. You can see small white particles on the photo at full size.

Props for the Leave It To Beaver tshirt :)

I immediately thought of that, too, but it didn't really taste like Pepsi. My friends and I thought it tasted more like Sprite with a citrus-y taste. So I was surprised to read that they could make a clear Coke that tasted the same (or maybe it didn't, but was close enough).

Have to admit, I was more amused by the fake cinder-block wallpaper!

You can make your own white/clear Coca Cola too! I play with my food a lot and have experimented with this.

All you need is an old/used Brita filter and a beverage carbonator (or if you're like me, you have some sort of multigas siphon).

1. Pour Coke into Brita jug (with filter in place) 2. Retrieve colourless solution, and then recarbonate.

It tastes like Coke but is colourless. I had also messed with other variants that require fancier filtration (special carbon filters for example) and centrifuging, but the Brita filter has pretty good results.

Alternative: Make your Cola from scratch:


Beverage companies make clear liquor by filtering their worst and cheapest beer through charcoal (a special carbon filter) to remove the color (the science of this is explained in sibling comments). Strong citrus flavors are then added to mask the original flavoring. Zima was a popular drink made in this fashion in the 1990s. A competitor to Zima, Smirnoff Ice, (which isn't vodka in the U.S) is still around.

That's really interesting. Does it taste bad? I can see why Smirnoff Ice has such a bad rep in the US (it's just a vodka premix in Australia - so it tastes like vodka and lemonade).

It depends on your tastes. It isn't high quality alcohol, but if you don't want the smell of alcohol in your breath, or want alcohol that tastes kind of like Sprite, then it's not bad.

Strange. Very strange.

When I tried it about a year ago, I had completely different results. I got something that looked exactly like Coca Cola without the carbon (so it didn't lose color), but it tasted very bitter and wasn't sweet at all (so it lost taste).

(Note: Coca Cola in here uses sugar, not high-fructose syrup like in US, so that might be it.)

Makes me wonder what Brita is actually filtering out.

OK, I learned this in A level (high school) chemistry, but I can't seem to find a wikipedia article about it.

They use clay beads, which are an aluminium mesh with H and OH groups weakly bonded to it (a weak ionic bond like this is called a "Ligand bond"[1]).

Firstly, it filters out bacteria and "bits" because of the porosity of the mesh (works like pushing current through a complicated network).

However, additionally it filters out non-H-or-OH ions from the water, which have a stronger Ligand bond with the Al mesh. (Obviously you eventually run out of H and OH ions in the network, as they're all replaced, which is when you need to change your filter.)

As such, we used clay-filtered tap water as 'distilled' water in all our experiments, because the worst it contains is bacteria and dissolved salts. I can't speak for the Coca Cola though, that's weird. I'm sure organic molecules would be small enough to get between the beads but too heavy/not ionic enough to bond to the mesh, or something.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligand

The standard Brita pitcher filter is a mix of granular activated carbon (from coconuts), and the ion exchange resin you talk about.

Thanks, I didn't know that! What does the activated carbon do?

It's chemically inert, but has a very fine porous structure (thus 'activated'), so it works as a mechanical filter that adsorbs anything large enough, like bacteria and even very large molecules.

Activated carbon, also known as activated charcoal, was the useful ingredient in "universal antidotes". Although the mixture (see link) is no longer used, activated charcoal still is.


It's chemically inert [...] so it works as a mechanical filter that adsorbs [...]

Because adsorption is a consequence of surface energy and weak bonding, I believe it's considered to be a chemical process, not a mechanical one.

Right, the distinction is fine here.

Adsorption is due to weak bonds that form between molecules of a surface and a fluid. AFAIK this bond is not a 'new' chemical bond since it does not break / replace existing chemical bonds in both the adsorbed molecule and surface molecules.

Rather, in the case of carbon at least, the 'bonds' are the van der Waals forces.

The coloring agent, presumably.

Which is caramel, presumably

looks to be "caramel color" [1] whatever that is


Looks like it's caramel


That is, sugars that underwent Caramelization https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caramelization

I've always wondered: what does red wine taste like after passing through a Britta filter? Have you tried this?

Try with both cheap and expensive red wine, post results.

Depends on your brita filter. If it's new, you will get fairly clear liquid that doesn't taste like wine.

If it's old, your liquid will be slightly less dark red (tried with a SA Shiraz). Tastes terrible still.

I personally wouldn't filter wine. It just tastes ... off.

This anecdote is mentioned in this book: ( http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002STNBRK/?tag=dedasys-20 ) which is an interesting look at world history via popular drinks: beer, wine, distilled alcohol, tea, coffee and coca cola. None of it is probably all that new in terms of the history portions, but it's an interesting and novel way of looking at things and makes for pleasant reading.

And without the referral link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002STNBRK

God forbid I should get a few cents for recommending a good book to a community I participate in.

And it's not even more expensive than the non-referral version.

I've always found this total, absolute hatred of referral links to be pretty absurd. I KNOW YOU JUST RACKED UP THAT 30k KARMA TO EARN $$$ OFF OF HN ZOMG.

_Especially_ on a site like this. Other posters here will freak out about how you're recommending something based on a financial incentive, but don't care about the myriad of other advertising they're bombarded with on a regular basis.

It's simply about context. If most of your posts were spammy, and had affiliate links, I could understand it more. But this sub-thread is ridiculous.

While ycombinator does not have a policy of posting affiliate/referral links (that I know of), usually forums explicitly forbid this practice.

On the forums that do allow it, typical etiquette is to notify the reader of a posted referral link, and also give them the choice of a non-affiliate link - and then let them decide.

Here, we're capitalists - we believe in startups, and are not philosophically opposed to making money.

If someone is spamming this site with referral links, they should be dealt with harshly and kicked out. Otherwise, if you don't like a book recommendation you can downvote. I don't post books I don't think are interesting, and only where appropriate - a few cents are not worth it to me to appear coming across as a shill. But I do enjoy receiving a bit of money to reinvest in more books.

> Here, we're capitalists - we believe in startups, and are not philosophically opposed to making money.

You're conflating a bunch of disparate ideas with this sentence. HN is not a forum for making you money. That is not its purpose. You are being asked to not use it for that purpose. Taking offense at such a request is, in my opinion, a fairly black mark against your sincerity.

What the hell, man. This is ridiculous. Can you not see that davidw is not trying to squeeze another 5 cents from you? You and TezzellEnt just decided to impose your own moral views on the community, and what's worse - on behalf of the community. I don't care about affiliate links if they are not blatant spam, which david's post is clearly not. And I don't need this patronizing editorializing.

What I take offense at is this idea that making money is bad. It's not.

I'm providing something that some people find useful, and since in this particular instance, there happens to be a way to make a tiny bit off it to reinvest in more books, I'm not ashamed to do so.

Making money is obviously - very, very obviously - not my primary use of this site.

You know another thing people do here? We promote our own stuff that we worked hard to build. Other communities intensely dislike that, but we don't, as long as it's kept within reason.

I think you're taking this as much more ideological than it is. When someone honks their car's horn at you, it's not because they have taken time to construct a reasoned analysis of the legal status of your behaviour -- it's usually because you did something which they did not expect. In some sense this is 'always right' with cars: a lot of traffic safety rides on our ability to safely expect what others will do, so if your actions are unexpected they are often unsafe.

When TezzellEnt posted a new version of the link, he/she did so because that little referral token is a sort of egg on your shirt in precisely the same way; it's unexpected. It's not necessarily an "idea that making money is bad." Nobody has said anything like that (except you, to refute it, of course). Heck, part of why it's unclean has to do with domain separation: if the egg is on your fork, it is 'clean', but if it falls on your shirt then it magically becomes 'dirt'. The egg of course is chemically identical, but one of them appears in a domain where you don't expect it -- an otherwise blank shirt. Similarly rmrfrmrf's first complaint ("issues arise when the content you produce for this site is influenced by your desire to make money") is not a referendum on your contributions as a whole but a statement that "you're crossing two domains here, and if those domains cross too much then this site will not be a place which we enjoy frequenting."

Because I haven't actually engaged the ideological side yet I might as well do that too. You're not just "getting money from Amazon" but also being co-opted into "advertising for Amazon" -- and, as you say, you were bought in this way for only a few cents. What you think of as a strength -- that you only make a tiny amount off of it -- is in some sense actually a weakness. acjohnson55 put this above as being "thought of as a shill."

> I think you're taking this as much more ideological than it is.

I think for a lot of people, it's a fairly reflexive dislike of referral links, rather than something they think through deeply. But at heart lies this idea that "OMG, he made some money off it! Impure! Impure!", when it's pretty easy to judge, on a case by case basis, whether a person is contributing or spamming that on a site like this.

Also: any links I put probably would have been to Amazon anyway, out of convenience, although sometimes when Wikipedia has a good summary, I just link to that. So my behavior does not really change other than attaching the referral code.

> I think for a lot of people

This is a typo, right?

drostie - Regardless of the commentary that inspired your response, your response was an inspired bit of commentary.

Would read again. A+++ =)

>HN is not a forum for making you money. That is not its purpose.

So? People advertise their startups and even hire employees here all the time.

Those are transparent. People are expected to declare their interests.

HN hides long urls, thus it's possible for the referral part to be hidden, meaning people might not be aware of the referral link.

Asking people to declare a referral link doesn't seem to be that onerous.

Sometimes I mention that they are referral links. Today I was in a hurry, and it's pretty evident that it is a referral link, as it does not appear shortened. Basically, why should anyone care what it is unless the person posting them is overdoing it?

I don't get the impression that anyone is accusing you of something as bad as kicking puppies or punching nuns. It's just a bit nicer if you explicitly declare referral links every time you use them.

I'm surprised that someone who has been online for as long as you have is not aware of the antipathy there is towards referral links. Some people really don't like them.

> I'm surprised that someone who has been online for as long as you have is not aware of the antipathy there is towards referral links. Some people really don't like them.

Online, some people really don't like a lot of things! Pretty much anything out there has its detractors. I know they don't like referral links, but I think in the context of a community like this one where it's easy to check on the activity of others, it's a silly attitude, and I won't hesitate to say so.

It's actually very specifically a vector for YC-incubated startups to recruit talent. That is one of the main reasons HN exists. Most of everything else is purposed for contributing to that specific goal.

Near as I'm aware, davidw's Amazon affiliate links are not part of a YC-incubated startup.

Except that issues arise when the content you produce for this site is influenced by your desire to make money.

It's also ridiculous for you to complain when someone provides an alternative to your product -- that's what capitalism is all about!

> Except that issues arise when the content you produce for this site is influenced by your desire to make money.

It isn't. I could see it being a problem for some people, hypothetically. If that problem arises, we can deal with it.

> It's also ridiculous for you to complain when someone provides an alternative to your product -- that's what capitalism is all about!

The "alternative" link means that Jeff Bezos pockets the few cents I would have made. To the actual end user, it makes no difference at all. There is no way I'd post those links if they actually ended up costing people here money.

>If that problem arises, we can deal with it.

This problem has arised in nearly all the sites that I know that have ever tolerated it. Eventually, someone learns that it's allowed and exploits that. Actually, you're that person because that link sounded to me like a sales pitch, but I can't prove that this was your intention.

In all cases, I'd rather prevent it from happening by disapproving it than "dealing with it" after the deed is done.

>To the actual end user, it makes no difference at all.

Bullshiiiiit. It makes the difference that this shit gets spammed all over the Internet eventually. Boo.

(as a side note, you can't prove they'd have gone to Bezos rather than contribute to an Amazon commission decrease if no one used these referrals)

I find giant rants against people using but not spamming affiliate links to be much more of a bother than affiliate links. Now what.

You make a very good point, and I apologise for my part in this meta-sub-thread.

Some off-site META discussion place would be useful. It needn't be just for HN, it could be for all online communities. Sort of like Meatball wiki was, but for everything. And not a wiki.

People have all sorts of ideas about moderation and karma and banning and etc.

> you're that person

Did you read my past comments and actually judge how much "spamming" I'm doing prior to making accusatory statements like that?

Let me make it easy for you: https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=davidw

> this shit

In this case, "this shit" was a book I happened to read and enjoy and was highly relevant to the discussion at hand and decided to share with people here. They seem to have appreciated the link. I know I'm always on the lookout for good books to read myself, and have found more than a few via this site.

It's pretty ridiculous that this discussion devolved into a few people who have been here for 1.5 years or less telling someone who's been here for nearly 8 years that he's doing it wrong. I have no problem with affiliate links. I do have a problem with drawn-out, off-topic discussion. But that's probably expected in a submission about White Coke.

Regardless of whether making money is the objective the forum or whatever, I think the main point is that it's considered poor form by many. Is it really worth the 5 cents to be thought of as a shill?

I also enjoyed that book. Tom Standage (@tomstandage) is an interesting guy. He's the editor of the 'back half' of the Economist, the non-news part.

Oh - he also wrote "The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers".


It's interesting and easy to read. Recommended.

Looks like he's done a few similar books on historical topics. I'm off to spend some money!

"One, Two, Three" is an hilarious comedy about the establishment of Coca Cola bottling plants in Europe--specifically in Western Germany, where of course hijinks ensue with East Germans.

The daughter of the Coke CEO visits, falls in love with, and marries a young "true believer" East German communist. When the CEO comes for a visit, they have to turn the communist into a proper American capitalist in 2 days.

"Good By Lenin" is another fine comedy in which a son trying to maintain the illusion the Berlin Wall hasn't fallen for the sake of his dying mother creates fake TV broadcasts announcing the Coca Cola billboards appearing everywhere are a celebration of Coca Cola's socialist, East German origins.

This is one of my favorite foreign films.

Definitely one of Cagney's best films.

I bet it's these types of missions that Presidents really love. It's not the obvious stuff that is asked of (one of) the most powerful people in the world, like declaring war or making executive orders or living in the White house. It's the slightly quirkier stuff, like brokering a clear version of Coke. I bet Truman loved this. It's like working at a company doing the same thing everyday, but being most excited for this little side project you have going on.

In addition, you have to think that by even receiving this request we had an inkling early on that we were winning many more cultural battles in the cold war than the USSR. Pretty great article.

And those side projects can be pretty significant, as well as fun.

One of Churchill's side projects was corresponding under the nickname "Former Naval Person."

Near perfect HN fodder - intellectual curiosity satisfied, just enough food-tech for a perfect top comment and a little bit of politics to garnish

My hat is tipped to annapowellsmith and of course all Wikipedians.

Totally expected to see an article about a white form of carbon (which would have been fascinating!) but this is a decent second option!


I was expecting an article for the youth pretending they don't know about the "new coke" debacle and/or possibly a new product "white coke" being released as a repeat of "new coke".

Personally I'd rather have the choice to buy HFCS free soft drinks rather than carmel-4 free soft drinks. Completely sweetener free, both natural and artificial, would be a unique experience, probably taste much like tea.

Both Mexican Coke and kosher-for-passover Coke are made with sugar instead of HFCS. If you're in America, one of the two is probably available near you.

The kosher-for-passover stuff is only available in the weeks leading up to passover, and I've only really seen it in areas where there are large Orthodox communities.

I do have some friends who will stockpile it for a year so that they don't have o drink the 'swill' that the rest of us enjoy.

I live in NM and it's one of the few KfP products I can get fairly easily. The folks around here are so incompetent at Jewish matters they tend to either have nothing or stock KfP stuff year round. No significant Orthodox community in the state.

If there's a Costco near you, they normally stock Mexican Coke. I'm not affiliated with Costco in any way, that's just where I purchase my real sugar Coke

I've occasionally wondered what food would taste like if you could selectively (and temporarily) disable the sweet taste-buds on your tongue. Same with salt taste-buds.

Perhaps numbing your tongue would work? A dentist could do that, but you'd only want to numb the surface. Is white coke (the illegal kind) a topical anesthetic?

You can buy topical anaesthetic for mouth use from most pharmacies. Have a look at for example "oragel"


There are "miracle berries" that make sour foods taste sweet.

It'd be fascinating to try something that took the sweet out of sodas. Someone posted a link to the OpenCola project in this thread. It's probably possible to make a batch with no, or much less, sugar than regular coke.

There are compounds that specifically inhibit sweetness perception: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactisole

I thought it was the street name for some new drug, which I had some cognitive dissonance on, since coke is already white.

I thought it was about coke, which is normally white, as far as I know. (No personal experience.)

Only in Russia do you disguise your coke as vodka to look respectable.

Is this just an interesting tidbit about the history of a popular drink, or a subtle anecdote about how under socialism all animals are equal, some just more than others?

Don't make the mistake of many on Hacker News thinking that the Soviet Union was a socialist society.

Yes, of course, if an experiment gets the wrong result, you declare the experiment faulty and try again. You should never let your ideas become polluted by empirical evidence.

> You should never let your ideas become polluted by empirical evidence.

Maybe you should take a leaf out of your own book and revise what socialism actually is, and how the USSR wasn't that.

No, it's not socialist, because the socialist nation is a utopia, and thus practically unreachable. The USSR (and DDR, Cuba, Zimbabwe, pre-Deng China and so on), however, is what you get when you make an attempt at reaching it.

There are two major branches of socialism: utopian and scientific, actually.

Especially given that Marxism is a science, and has undergone major changes as things are learned. Hence "Marxism" vs. "Marxism-Leninism" vs. "Marxism-Leninism-Maoism."

Edison: "I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb."

If Edison had killed even a millionth as many people failing to invent the light bulb as socialists did failing to invent socialism, I suspect he would have stopped trying.

Capitalism has also killed millions of people. Feudalism has killed millions of people. Mercantilism has killed millions of people.

Did someone just finish a game of Civ?

Leninism (and Trotskyism and Stalinism, depending on which side of the Stalinist/Trotskyist divide you fall on as to which one was simply fidelity to Leninism and which one was a substantial revision that unfairly characterized the other) and Maoism were not scientific revisions of Marxism; that is, they were not a result of Marxism being a hypothesis that was empirically tested, failed, and alternative hypothesis whih better fit the available evidence being offered and tested.

My understanding is that ML and MLM _were_ considered to be legitimate, scientific advancements, and that's why it's just M, ML, and MLM, and why Trotskyism/Stalinism/Hoaxianism/Luxemburgism don't get the full-on status that the top three too. That said, I am not as educated on the topic as I would like to be.

Also, let me just say that I never expected to read a post like yours or type a post like mine into an HN comment box, kudos.

And if an experiment gets the result you want, condescendingly dismiss any attempt to question its validity.

Verbal irony rarely works well on HN

It does when it's dressing up an actual, valid point.

Yeah, it's not like they used "Socialist" in the full name of the republic or something...</deadpan>

For anyone interested who doesn't understand the spectrum of socialist organization, read almost any book by Ludwig von Mises (start with "Socialism", where he catalogs the socialist orers of the early 1920s) and work your way forward.

>Yeah, it's not like they used "Socialist" in the full name of the republic or something

Like North Korea uses Democratic?

We can surely judge whether North Korea is democratic (in fact, very few places are "truly" in the Hellenic Athenian Greek sense: democratic).

Judging whether something is "truly" socialistic is arguably harder, since while the goal of democracy is a system by which the public expresses its favor or disfavor for laws and policies; socialism's goals (each according to its need) may not be achievable at all (at least if we look at the long term track record (1)).

If that is so, all we are left is what a socialist regime intends, and whether it organizes itself (at least formally) as a socialist order.

(1) From a long term track record, there "problem" of the perfect social organization hasn't been "solved" by anything. We can, however, see that some things are "less wrong"...

I think you are confusing one articulation of a motivation for socialism with what socialism is; when Marx used that slogan he wasn't explaining what socialism was, but what, in his view, it could enable once fully realized.

What socialism is is public ownership/control of the means of production.

I understand that socialism (as an ideology) believes public ownership/control of the means of production is possible. It (Socialism/Marx) expected that once the "problem of production" was solved (by the capitalist order), the means to produce could be seized.

What Socialism doesn't quite get is that production planning in the capitalist order is driven by the calculable profit and investment for any enterprise (even more so in large interdependent, yet independent, concerns); and that is only possible when private ownership (of everything involved, including capital) allows private risk and reward. Capitalism has never "solved production", nor will it ever. It maximizes for profit, not production.

Since I know socialism isn't capable of being put into practice, all I am left with is the intention of the bannerists who fly the Socialist standard. If they want to claim a socialist state has been established, I take them at their face. They have created a state that follows the reason for the social-control of production (needs fulfillment) even if they are doomed.

> I understand that socialism (as an ideology) believes public ownership/control of the means of production is possible.

Its not really an ideological belief. That the public control of the means of production is possible is simple, demonstrable, tested fact. That it is desirable is (or depends on) an ideological position, but that's a different issue.

> It (Socialism/Marx) expected that once the "problem of production" was solved (by the capitalist order), the means to produce could be seized.

I don't think you really understand the Marxist view here. Its not that there was something that capitalism produced which socialism needed to seize. The idea that capitalism "solved" production was that that the displacement of the feudal system of property ownership by the systems of ownership which enabled capitalism removed the barriers that the feudal systems of ownership placed in the way of production. The "problem of production" that was "solved" by capitalism was the problem created by the barriers imposed by feudal property structures.

It wasn't about production planning in the capitalist order.

Socialism views capitalism's property structures as producing similar barriers to the desirable distribution of the outputs of production to the barriers that feudal property structures put in the way of production in the first place, which is the essence of the "problem of distribution".

> Since I know socialism isn't capable of being put into practice

Pretty much all the change in the nature of the economic systems of the West since the early 20th century has been due to socialism being put into practice. Modern mixed economies are pretty much entirely about changing the nature of (both subject and scope) of property rights from what they were in the system for which socialists like Marx coined the term "capitalism" to describe in ways which increase public control of the means production and exchange.

If something happens, it is, ipso facto, not impossible.

It was an attempt at humour, notice the deadpan end tag. Deadpan is dry humour, just imagine Ricky Gervais, Steve Carell or Zach Galifianakis saying the sentence out loud.

Except that apart from Trots and left anti-communists, Real Communists do consider the USSR to have been socialist, with declining purity of socialism post Stalin's death.

>Real Communist

Stalinists would consider the Soviet Union to be socialist. Marxists (what I'm assuming you mean by a 'Real Communist') would disagree.

As a communist who talks to other communists (admittedly mostly Maoists and 'Stalinists' (which is really a pejorative invented by Trots to demonise Actual Socialism ('Stalinists' are simply anti-revisionist Leninists)), I say that Marxists who apply more than a simple liberal analysis to the USSR would agree that it was in fact socialist.

The Marxists I've known have tended to have the view that the Soviet Union (and this generally applies to Leninism and its descendants and implementations generally) was socialist in both the superficial structural sense (in that it features government control of the means of production and exchange, to a very large degree), and in terms of its propaganda.

Beyond that, there has been less agreement, but many have held the view that the USSR either was not socialism (sometimes referring to it as specifically as "state capitalism") or that it was an approach to socialism, but one which was fatally flawed by (and this is, in some respects, my synthesis of their criticisms, rather than one that was articulated by any one interlocutor) the adaptations to apply socialism without first having institutionalized the bourgeois revolution which precedes the socialist revolution which resulted in property-like (if not formally "property") personal social authority structures which shared features with both the property structures of feudalism which are at the roots of the problems addressed by the bourgeois revolution, and the those of the capitalism that are at the roots of the problems addressed by the socialist revolution, which mostly resulted in the net effect of the implementation of Leninism (and its variations applied elsewhere) being to spread a distorted form of socialist ideology in a society in which elements of both the bourgeois revolution and the socialist revolution were present but where the revolutions as such still needed to occur in the normal order but were arrested (in some cases, less than completely--certainly, even in the mid-1990s, most who held some form of this view seemed to think that at least China was very definitely progressing through the bourgeois revolution) by the identification of the status quo order with the socialist revolution.

Marxist here, I concur. You do have to admit that many people who are new to their studies or people who have a more superficial understanding of socialism often do assert that the USSR wasn't 'real' socialism as a means of distancing themselves from its 'failures.'

As someone who is genuinely interested. Can you point to any examples of a socialist society? If no, can you explain how such a society might come to exist?

Weren't the kibbutz in early Israel essentially socialist (or even possibly communist)? It doesn't seem hard to come up with functioning examples at a small scale (families, groups of families, etc.) with high group-cohesiveness and shared identity. It seems to break down at the nation-state scale, except perhaps during wartime or other emergency. It's interesting to think about whether socialism works in a society with extreme abundance ("post-scarcity"), at least for certain kinds of assets -- I could see cheaply-made material goods being essentially distributed in a socialist way while services performed by humans and "status" goods were highly capitalist.

Families are socialist. So are some small native tribes.

Large scale socialism by force tends to be a bit dystopian, though. They don't build walls to keep people out of socialist states.

Socialism/capitalism primarily deals with the question of how to distribute scarce resources - which, by definition, is irrelevant in a post-scarcity society.

No, neither deals with scarce resources. Capitalism deals with investment and return on investment (via profit) as the directing agent of production. Socialism deals with distribution of "goods and services" according to some socially defined value system. The various socialisms may vary on how this value system is aimed or directed, but it is usually "republican" (for the people) in outer character so that popular support is maintained; even if it is benevolently dictatored for executive expediency.

First, great description.

Second, he says "scarce resources," you say 'no, it doesn't deal with that," but then say that it deals with "distribution of 'goods and services.'"

Isn't that the same thing, from a practical standpoint?

Even if they aren't scarce in the sense that the society has enough to go around, their scarcity relative to the average citizen still depends on the efficiency of that distribution process.

Maybe the system or theory of socialism technically 'doesn't concern itself with scarce resources', but I don't see why it makes his point less valid.

> but I don't see why it makes his point less valid.

>>Socialism/capitalism primarily deals with the question of how to distribute scarce resources - which, by definition, is irrelevant in a post-scarcity society.

If (by his point) you mean his assertion that socialism and capitalism are irrelevant in a "post-scarcity society", do not forget he is asserting that there is no scarcity. Either goods and services are abundant and meeting "market" aggregate needs (post-scarcity), or they are not.

Socialism assumes that the problems of production (and presumably service delivery) have been solved, so it is quite happy in a "post-scarcity" world, since it only has to distribute according to need, or to everyone, or something like that. Socialism is only concerned with distribution and doesn't care whether the resources (goods/services, or what-not) are scarce or not. It assumes distribution is irrelevant to production or availability of anything.

Practically speaking, capitalism doesn't categorically solve scarcity or distribution , and only gets involved if there is a measurable expectation of return to be made in a market.

Socialism and capitalism are both mechanisms for distributing scarce resources (they are two extreme options for the control over the means of production and, therefore, control of the distribution of outputs produced.) While you could employ either mechanism in the absence of scarcity, that's not really what they are designed for—each is a answer to the question "given limited useful production possibilities, how do we decide what is produced and how the output is distributed"

Capitalism isn't really concerned with production per se any more than socialism is. Socialism assumes the problem of production has been solved (presumably by capitalism) whereas capitalism is the legal framework of risk/return on investment designed to allow the owner of capital to maximize profit (or grow capital).

Meeting market demand with products or services is one of the means that capital uses, but is not the purpose of capitalism.

> Socialism assumes the problem of production has been solved

Insofar as that is true of socialist theory (its an element of Marxist historical perspective), it is not a general "problem of production", but the specific factors inhibiting realization of production possibilities presented by the structure of feudal property structures that socialism views capitalism (or, perhaps more specifically, the change to the structure of property rights which enabled capitalism) as having removed.

> whereas capitalism is the legal framework of risk/return on investment designed to allow the owner of capital to maximize profit (or grow capital).

Enabling capital owners to maximize profit is a very specific preference in how production and distribution in the presence of scarce resources should be prioritized. Yes, its what capitalism is about, to be sure, but it is simply not true to say that this somehow supports the point that capitalism is not about production.

Post-scarcity doesn't mean that there are "enough" goods, it means they are so plenty that they are free - therefore there is not need for policies to ensure their fair and/or efficient distribution.

I agree. Socialism assumes production has been "solved".

Perhaps the original poster meant that the "conflict" between (currently-emerging) socialism and (obstructionist) capitalism will not be necessary in the future, since socialist pre-conditions will have been met. Marx touted the same thing; I'm not disagreeing with that.

I'm going to assume (for argument sake) that this "post-scarcity" world is one were labor is unnecessary for the continued production of existing products at existing output scales (ignoring for a moment changing demographics and perhaps the "need" for R&D to solve new problems).

That still leaves land, resource and capital in the production equation. Land: because production (including food production) has to occur somewhere, resource: because the raw materials are not uniformly located in the same locales as the production or the consumption domains (and indeed most are not infinitely collectible even where they are currently located), and capital: to manage the risk and rewards on the uncertainty of the success of any venture to change the status quo (which will alter itself anyway due to resource exhaustion and geolocated "demand/need" changes).

So...what I am saying is that the "problem" of production isn't solvable, any more than entropy (resource exhaustion) can be reversed. There is always natural variability in location and resource (spatially and temporally), that are managed through the risks and rewards of capital investment; risks quantified as loss, rewards quantified as profit.

You might enjoy mutualism.

1. The Paris Commune 2. Revolutionary Catalonia 3. kibbutz-es 4. The Free Territory

Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_countries

Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_anarchist_communities (anarchism is a form of socialism)

(Also, actual Marxists do consider the USSR as Real Socialism (tm))

Socialism is essentially when the worker's own the means of production, so I'd look into worker owned companies.

Here's a list of worker owned companies that have a Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_employee-owned_companie...

Or how bribes work every time, if you know, what the persons really wants.

Or that it pays for big corp to rub with the ones in power.


Or perhaps it was a simple way of saying thanks from Eisenhower to Zhukov - given Zhukov's key role in defeating the Nazis it seems like a pretty trivial thing to me. Eisenhower clearly had a lot of respect for Zhukov - as did a lot of military leaders in the West.

"Or that it pays for big corp to rub with the ones in power."

Yeah, because producing 50 cases of a special brew for one general in a totalitarian state is a well-known strategy to get rich...

Coca-cola could not care less if the General got the coke or not, if it made any money or not - what mattered was the US Army's support in creating a global manufacturing and distribution chain - and a ready made global consumer group in the form of GIs who would then glamourise the drink to the native populations

> Coca-cola could not care less if the General got the coke or not[...]

Well from the OP: "A practical consequence of White Coke was circumvention of the red tape imposed by the Soviet occupation authorities. While cargo shipments transiting the Soviet occupation zone in Austria normally took weeks to clear with the authorities, Coca-Cola supplies passing through the zone on their way back and forth between the Lambach plant and the Vienna warehouse were never stopped."

Would not say, that it didn't make sense economically to produce these 50 cases...

Ignoring the special circumstances its funny how drinking vodka in public was more acceptable than coke. Gotta love the russians...

This is the typical BS.

[Edit] Are you expecting Zhukov, the top Russian commander, to drink vodka where it is not appropriate?

I couldn't stop be amused at how much Westerners' image of the world is distorted.

It is always interesting to see how people from other cultures view my culture. I am afraid that your english grammar is getting in the way of your comment.

Did you mean to point out that "drinking vodka in public is always appropriate" or that "anytime the top soviet commander drank vodka it was a public event"? Or something else entirely?

[Edit] Updated it for better clarity. Sorry for imperfect English.

No need to be a dick, I was genuinely interested in your opinion and trying to be helpful. But if you want to go down that road it is worth pointing out that you did not update it just for me; you updated it for anyone accustomed to well formed english sentences.

Sorry, got upset as I usually get when I hear "Russians did something we do not fully understand. Simple: vodka must be involved!".

Zhukov couldn't drink Coke when others drink vodka. For one thing, vodka is not consumed from individual bottles; the same bottle is shared. Second, it is considered impolite to drink and do not offer it to the guest.

Zhukov may have had an idea of introducing Coke as a popular drink, but Stalin wouldn't allow it. Stalin knew that colour is not important; essence (and origin) is.

It seems you havent really read the wikipedia article which clearly states "Zhukov liked it and asked for its color to resemble vodka so that he would not be seen drinking Coca-Cola in public"

Thats the only reason why i brought ip up..okay the Wikipedia entry might be inaccurate, but am i to judge that ?

Did you even read the article? It mentions "Zhukov liked it and asked for its color to resemble vodka so that he would not be seen drinking Coca-Cola in public". So I don't understand why you spin this into some distorted view of "Westerners'"

The article doesn't seem quite clear on this: did they simply remove the coloring, or did they add something to the drink that would break down/bind to the coloring molecules and render them colorless? I'm not really sure why you would need a chemist to do the first.

I'm guessing that coke has added color, but without that added color, its still not clear. It likely took additional processing to make it appear like vodka (the goal of the endeavor).

The goal was to make it NOT look as Coke, which was a well-known symbol of USA.

The idea it should look like vodka is just ridiculous.

In the conditions when it is OK to drink vodka, Russians drink vodka, not Coke.

In the conditions when it is NOT OK to drink vodka, Russians (generally) do not drink vodka.

Well, looking like vodka is more or less just an exercise in packaging, once you've got the "not looking like something in particular" part down. Maybe you could make it look like some sort of tea if you just got it down to a light-brown color but ideally you don't want to give people reason to wonder what it is. If you were going to go that route you could probably pass coke off as coffee anyway. Clear is perfect for this purpose, it'd either be vodka or water, depending on the packaging. Both are un-opinionated drinks in the right context (6.5oz may be a bit too much vodka to be knocking back during a meeting, though probably not particularly notably so.)

Modern Coke use caramel color (E150b). Perhaps the color used to be natural from the ingredients, or there are some ingredients that are not colorless.


I remember doing a test in high school science class where we poured coke through Norit (activated carbon) a couple of times which would result in the colourants binding to the Norit and the coke become colourless (while still being safe to drink).

Did it taste the same?

> The article doesn't seem quite clear on this: did they simply remove the coloring..

"Zarubica found a chemist who could remove the coloring from the beverage, thereby granting Marshal Zhukov's wish."

Jlgreco probably meant: "did they not add coloring [during production]", for which to make sense the color would have to be added during the production, which could very well be; the article probably meant "found a chemist who could remove the color", implying the color is a by-product of the production and comes from other ingredients. So, the article is not explicit about this, but the whole context would lead me to believe that it is the second explanation that was meant.

I suspect that if they were only making small quantities of it, they might not want to mess with their working production setup, and so it could be more economical to mass produce the coloured product and get advice from their staff food chemist on how to remove the coloured compounds for the small special order.

But why would they need a chemist to tell them how to simply not add color?

I think you're answering your own question here. Coke without coloring isn't completely clear, so they hired a chemist to mask whatever natural color coke has. At least that's the impression I got from that sentence.

I assume in the original recipe the color wasn't added, but was a consequence of how it was produced then.

Zhukov wasn't the only communist with a taste for Coca-Cola: http://m.taringa.net/post/info/El_Che_y_la_Coca_cola-4575995...

(Disclaimer: I speak zero Spanish so I have no idea what that article says. I just like the photo.)

Short version: when Cuba cut relations with the US, they wanted to get rid of Coke as an imperialist symbol, but they still needed the bottles, because they didn't have means of replacing them all at once. Coke was not that popular, though, but the Cuba libre (rum and Coke) was a slightly different problem. So they used the bottles for other things, and at the same time they came up with a Coke substitute (sold in other bottles, because the mixture was too close to the imperialist one). When they presented the substitute to Che Guevara, he said "it tastes like st" (or "like cockroach" on TV). E entually they improved the formula, and mixed with rum it was decent. But it wasn't actual Coke.

I Google-translated the article, and it seems to talk about the many Coke bottles in Cuba post-revolution being re-cycled to contain a local drink, the name of which I wasn't quite able to pick out of the translation, but which wasn't "Coke".

El nuevo producto, que se llama refresco de cola

It was just called "cola drink", you could translate it as "cola tonic". I guess it makes sense that it wasn't particularly branded.

Funny how the wiki mentions all the names of stupid politicians/soldiers, Managers down to a "technical supervisor" but it credits the guy that actually made white coke as "a chemist".

F##k historians.

I was to post the same thing! So yeah, unethical business as usual, way to go (not) :/

Is there any actual evidence this actually existed, such as a picture?

I could be way off here, but I could've sworn I've worked for a supermarket that, apart from blue Pepsi, at some point sold white Coca Cola. This was in either the 90's or early 2000 though.

And again, perhaps it's my memory playing tricks on me.

That might've been it :] Cheers!

How would you really know it's Coca-Cola by just looking at it? Could just as well be something else.

On a vaguely related tangent to this, Coca Cola does not block infrared and near infrared light making it mostly transparent if viewed through an IR capable sensor with the visible spectrum filtered out.

Coca Cola Austria had it's plant in Lambach back then. http://en.coca-colahellenic.at/about-us/History/ Lambach is a small city in Austria and it's a few miles from my hometown. I assume Coca Cola produced it in the old beer plant building. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambach

Your best bet is to comb the references cited in the article. There is a good chance the published non-fiction books themselves have further citations.

While this is pretty interesting/amusing I don't see how it has anything to do with HN, maybe http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/

It passes the "gratifies one's intellectual curiosity" test for me.

Hey, what can one say? Amerika uber alles in the consumer product department.

In other news, McDonald's is setting up shop in Vietnam. Now we can REALLY declare victory and go home.

I love how it was more acceptable for your general to be drinking vodka by the glass full than it would have been to drink the "American Imperialist" drink.

White Coke: Made for Reds.

Mark Pendergast's book For God, Country, and Coca-Cola linked in the references covers this and more and is a good read. It also has the recipe for Coke in the back and the story of how he found it.

I've never seen a Hacker News thread get so off track...

Old joke: During the Cold War, the Russians paint the moon red. An American general immediately sends up a team with white paint... to add a Coca-Cola logo.

I am baffled and amused that this is a top story on HN.

Vodka is white? I thought it was transparent.

(I've only ever seen the drink on TV, so I really don't know.)

'White coke' was transparent coke. 'Black' coke is transparent too (hold it up to the light).

You've never seen vodka in person?

Its a cultural thing I guess. I don't drink alcohol, but I hang about with people who do. I don't recall my friends ever drinking vodka.

I'm a little bothered by this use of the word "white" for something colour-less. If you tell me that a liquid is "white", I'm going to think it would look like a glass of milk before I think of a glass of water.

I read "White coke" and I thought of a carbonated milky looking drink.

In that case "white people" and/or "black people" must drive you nuts.

What would drive me nuts was if 'The Invisible Man' was instead called 'The White Man'.

Chemists use the term 'water-white' for just this reason.

White rum is the name for clear rum. I suppose in a beverage context white just means colorless.

It is transparent, and so is "white coke".

God if you had an original unopened bottle of that it would be worth a fortune.

This is why I love Hacker News!

Because mixing in a little milk to make it look like coffee would have been too efficient and inexpensive.

A brown cow (or white cow in this application) is yummy but quite different than an unadulterated coke. The suggestion is the same as telling people to add milk or sugar to their tea. And people are opinionated enough about that[1][2][3].

Besides, a little chemistry to break into a new market isn't a bad expenditure.




Lol. Have you ever tried mixing coke and milk?

I saw it happen once. My friend ordered a white russian (vodka and milk) for our other friend and a black russian (vodka with coke) for himself - the bartender was pretty drunk and he mixed the two together, forming a greyish foaming abomination of a drink. My mate left it in the middle of the pub and noone even touched it.

> a black russian (vodka with coke)

The barman doesn't know what the fuck they are doing and I used to work amongst functionally drunk barmen. A black russian is vodka, coffee liquor (like Kahlua) and milk (optional). Even if he wasn't drunk what he gave your friend was shit.

To be specific: a black russian is a white russian without the milk.

A tall black russian tops off a black russian with coke, so maybe that is what was ordered (or what the drunk bartender heard).

Fair enough, it was some time ago and I wouldn't really order either (what a waste of vodka), so I stand corrected.

You wouldn't need milk. Just serve it in a coffee cup.

I'm guessing the Marshal didn't want to display his corruption to the "dirty water of the American imperialism"¹ even to the workers who stocked and served his beverages.

¹As the members of our marxist-leninist-maoist party called it ;)

Given the tolerant friendly loving environment of their government in that era, I'd prefer drinking clear drinks. There are plenty of 100% soluble clear poisons, but clear drinks would exclude at least SOME poisons, or at least make prospective poisoners work a little harder.

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