Crossroads sees influx in available cola concoctions


June 2, 2012 at 1:02 a.m.

Melanie Vasquez approached the counter at Great American Cookie Co., with wallet in hand, prepared to grab a drink.

She'd planned on a Dr Pepper, but instead left with a mixture of the soft drink and cherry and vanilla flavoring.

"I didn't even know they had this," said Vasquez, a student and Target employee, as she eyed the drink. "I just thought I'd try it."

The cookie counter is among three locations in Victoria that play home to Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which offer more than 100 drink options to thirsty consumers.

DoubleDave's Pizzaworks and Schlotzsky's also join the mix.

Great American Cookie Co. was the first in Victoria to purchase the machine, said Mario Cantu, a manager with the shop. In the year or so since the purchase, he said soda sales skyrocketed.

"People really appreciate the machine a lot more than the ones you see most places," he said.

In addition to other offerings, drink options include more than 70 diet and low-calorie beverages, and more than 90 caffeine-free options, according to a Coca-Cola Freestyle fact sheet.

Sprite, Powerade and diet Dr Pepper concoctions tend to be most popular at the cookie shop, Cantu said, but people don't stop there.

"You see some people experimenting with different flavors," he said.

Cantu said he expected the trend to continue forward throughout the Crossroads.

"I'm pretty sure they'll catch on," he said. "I wouldn't put it past Victoria. They really are a lot of fun."

How do they work?

Users make their selections with help from a touch-screen interface, scrolling through various drink brands and flavor combinations until they find the one that best suits them. Machines offer more than 100 brand choices.

From there, as with traditional machines, all it takes is the push of a button to dispense the drink. The company's "PurePour technology" uses a microdosing system to get the flavor just right.

The machines don't use syrup. Instead, concentrated ingredients inside cartridges form the variety of flavors.

Is there anything I should know about these machines?

The new-age contraptions offer up more than 100 drink brand options. That includes more than 70 diet and low-calorie budgets and more than 90 caffeine-free varieties.

They take up about the same amount of space as a traditional fountain machine with eight to 10 valves.

Today, more than 800 restaurants nationwide boast Freestyle machines. That includes three in Victoria.

In addition to the common soda flavors, options such as orange Coke, Sprite with grape and cherry, Hi-C raspberry lime and Seagram's seltzer water are also available.

Where can I find them in Victoria?

DoubleDave's Pizzaworks• 7104 B N. Navarro St.

• 361-575-3283

• Machine is out front, allowing customers to mix their own drinks

Great American Cookie• 7800 N. Navarro St., Suite 381

• 361-573-0660

• Machine is behind the counter, so employees mix drinks

Schlotzsky's• 4601 N. Navarro St.

• 361-576-3201

• Machine is out front, allowing customers to mix their own drinks

What are people saying about them?

"I've never tried these machines, but I like adding flavors to my drinks. My favorite is Mountain Dew with lime."

- Ryan Garcia, Victoria, age 9

"I like the Dasani with different flavors, and the lemonade, too. I watch what I eat, and avoid carbonation. But these machines are also fun to play with."

- Jill Clark, Victoria, shift leader at Great American Cookie Co.

Sources: Coca-Cola Freestyle fact sheet, Mario Cantu, manager with Great American Cookie Co.



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