Friday 20 April 2012

The absence of happiness in Coca-Cola

u mad, Coke?

On the theme of digging up old complaint letters, I have a shorter one for you.

Here's a spoof letter I sent to Coca-Cola Amatil, and with similar results to the previous post I had no response.

What is it about my letters that cause the companies in question to never respond to me? Suggest it's because they're "too damn long" and I'll strike you in the throat.

This one is a lot more lighter-hearted than the Telstra letter. Even so, I hope you find it amusing.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm writing to you about a distressing situation that befell me whilst enjoying products from your company. Before I begin, however, I find it extremely distressing to address an unknown individual, and feel absolutely lost when trying to think how to word a letter that has no clear recipient. It is for this reason, that I'm going to assign the addressee a 'proxy' name; this will enable me to write in complete comfort and allow me to be personal with my correspondence. Choosing a 'proxy' name, however is difficult; it is required to be both a common name, but also androgynous due to not knowing the sex (or sexes) of the receiver. After much internal deliberation, I have settled on the name 'John' - as this is both common, and can be readily adapted to either sex (Johnathan for male, Johnette for female). And so I begin.

The thing is, John, I recently went down to my local Seven/Eleven convenience store to purchase myself a carbonated beverage, and was presented with a smorgasbord of choices. This was not comforting to me at all, it was infact rather disturbing as I tend to procrastinate; If I had been given 3 choices, I would be able to reach a reasonable conclusion as which to choose in as little as forty minutes. Instead, there was six individual fridges containing a vast array of different sugary treats. It took me seven hours and twenty-three minutes to finally limit my choices to three different varieties; the 'Powerade', the 'Mother', and the 'Coca-Cola'. Luckily for me, John, I discounted the Powerade quickly due to its lack of carbonation - I was clear on that point, if nothing else - and I wasn't particularly wanting to ingest any stimulants stronger than caffeine.  So, Coca-Cola it is, and would be.

What drew me especially to the 'Coke' (as I've heard to it referred) was one feature that topped all previous choices. One might think it was the eye-catching Red banner around it, but no... that wasn't it. It wasn't even the fantastic new 'Grip' now wrapped around its' circumference; Godzilla knows dropping Buddy Cokes had been an issue I have been plagued with in the past, but no longer (Take that, Godzilla!). It was the subtext on the side of the bottle, one which I had never seen before:

"Listen closely & hear the happiness being unleashed when you open this bottle."

Excitedly, I practically threw the exorbitant amount of money these 24/7 convenience stores charge for your products and ran all the way home, with a skip in my step. This was incredible! I was to drink a bottle of happiness. What a bold giant you are, having special technology and whatsits in your product lab (in my mind it looks something like Willy Wonka's factory) that allow such a thing to occur. I fumbled for my keys and burst into my living room to speak to my flatmate, Tom.

"Tom!" I yelled with excitement and urgency, loud enough for him to jerk upright and drop his coffee mug, "Check this out!"
"What, what?" He stammered, fear in his eyes as he struggled to read my expression - no doubt my rarely-used 'exultant' expression.
"This." I point to the small-print on the side of the bottle. He squints and leans forward.
"Listen closely & hear the happiness being unleashed when you open this bottle,"He recited, and gave a little chuckle, "That's stupid."
"How is that stupid?" I demand, "This is the greatest soda of all time. OF ALL TIME! It contains happiness."
"Well, it doesn't contain actual "happiness" obviously; it's just a marketing message."
"Bullpocky!" I exclaim, puffing out my chest, "It does contain happiness, and I bet you a pizza I will prove it!"

Now John, this would become my eventual downfall - I won't spoil the ending by telling you why of course, but you may have a fair idea already.

I begin experimenting straight away, with no time to lose. The first, most obvious test choice was a simple 'Audible Happiness' test. A very crude beginning, I called my flatmate, Tom, over for verification, and to witness the experiment. With sat there, with fervour, listening closely for take-off as I slowly eased the lid of the container.

"Pssshhhhphhhhssssssss." Is the closest English-spelt explanation of what we both confirmed hearing. I jumped onto my lab's 'Super-Computer' (also known as a MacBook Pro) and Googled the interwebs. After reading many reliable sources (chief of which was Wikipedia), the only explanation of the above-mentioned sound was not actually happiness, but, infact - the quick release of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) gas.

There had to be another answer. I researched effects of Carbon Dioxide on the human body - as it turns out, not a particularly significant effect in such small quantities. Perhaps the intention is of a long-term, cumulative effect. I looked into long-term effects of small exposure to Carbon Dioxide to the human body, but alas, again the small quantity in which the subject was exposed gave no statistically significant results.

It now dawns on me; Maybe Carbon Dioxide is only a small quantity of 'Happiness', and to achieve true bliss one would need to be exposed to a statistically very significant amount of Carbon Dioxide in order to reap its' unworldly results. Before putting this epiphany into a live clinical trial on myself, luckily I referred to the Oracle (The Oracle is my Sony Vaio - I call it the Oracle because the internet has all the answers to life's questions) to seek out any possible trials others have conducted that would give me proof of concept.

I click on a link, shooting me directly to the New British Medical Journal of Modern Medicine and discover, to my dismay, that had I proceeded with my experiment I would, infact, be currently deceased. As it turns out, prolonged exposure to large quantities of Carbon Dioxide causes death in humans, due to there being lack of Oxygen in the space it occupies.

The research was bleak and unyielding thus-far, John, I'm sure you can appreciate the anxiety I was going through at this point trying to prove to my sceptical flatmate that a company can't lie in advertising, as this is against the Trade Practises Act of 1979. I continued my research.

There must be something I'm missing, I'm sure of it! I skim over my notes, trying to look for the answer. That's it! The sound of the happiness must be being masked by the sound of the CO2 release! But, how would I prove its' existence? I would need to sample the sound digitally, and CSI-style the audio layers back. I would need a sound booth, but I was working with a limited research budget (so far, only the initial price of the bottle of Coke was my only approved expenditure). 

I would have to call on the Elder spirit of MacGuyver to assist me through this frugal DIY project. I knelt to my needs and prayed. As the the saying goes, ask and you shall receive. In a pious voice in my head I am instructed. "Use a cardboard box and your Logitech PC headset. (I have reflected on this moment for spiritual reasons many times since, and on further thought it might have actually been Tom, my dubious flatmate if you recall me telling you about him before)

New life had been breathed into my testing at this time John, I was sure I'd get to the bottom of what might be the greatest mystery of all day.

I constructed a miniature sound-booth out of the box in which I had gotten my PS3, retaining the styrofoam to assist in blocking out all outside influences, hooked up my Logitech microphone to my desktop PC, loaded up Adobe Sound Booth (it seemed like an appropriate choice) and got ready to become a Mythbuster. I replaced the bottle-cap of my Buddy Coke and began the recording. At this time, it did not occur to me the test would not work with a previously opened Coke bottle.

After several hours of debugging and trying to work out why my microphone wasn't recording any sound, I decided to manually test the sound of the happiness, and listened to my Coke once more - not even a fizzle. I scratch my head in confusion, and re-read the label. Listen closely & hear the happiness being unleashed when you open this bottle. I get an idea - even though it doesn't expressly suggest this, perhaps all of the happiness is unleashed on the first opening, with the CO2 gas. It would seem my budget was about to triple.

John, I apologise for taking so much of your time with this lengthy transcription of my testing results, but you have to understand that these experiments were a long and exhaustive process for me, and the short amount of your time in reading this is a small reflection of the amount of time invested by myself in doing these. Please be patient.

After returning from the shop, I had purchased an additional two bottles of Coke - I had to get a backup, as my credibility as a consumer scientist hinged upon the successful discovery of happiness as a quantifiable and capturable substance; this could truly change the world. Recording the sound of one of these proved to be a beautiful, perfect WAV file ready for CSI-ing. I ran a High-Pass filter, a Low-Pass filter, increased the Treble, removed the Bass, enhanced it into 64-bit 8 Channel, phased the results - converted the file, played with the EQ, ran a Cut-Off on it... no matter what I did, how long I analysed the resulting audio, it lead me to only one soul-crushing conclusion: The sound of happiness was not present, unless it was identical to the same frequency as CO2 (which is practically statistically impossible).

To reconfirm my findings, I hit the internets to search for any previous link between the sound of CO2 and happiness. Aside from poetic references to the sound of happiness I found absolutely no previous findings regarding the scientifically accurate sound of happiness, let alone links to it being more identical to the sound of CO2 than any other sound, to any other sound in the whole world. Barring a scientific anomaly, Occam's Razor demanded I was to assume happiness is, in fact NOT the same sound as CO2 and therefore, was not present in my findings.

And so, with a limited budget and having the newfound expense of buying Tom, my flatmate - I think I mentioned him earlier, a pizza I had to cease my trials and have nothing to show for my exhaustive research. I had all but proved that happiness did not exist in the bottle - and the advertising suggesting otherwise was either intentionally misleading or at the very least mistaken.

Thank you for reading my account, John - I appreciate your time. I have but one more small favour to ask: Might Coca-Cola Amatil provide me with a domestic Grant to continue my research. I have looked for the best prices and I believe I will be able to find happiness with about AUD17,912.37. I respect that due to the Global Financial Crisis you may not be able to help me with this sum; so might I suggest a compromise. I will pay out the required AUD17,912.37 to build my laboratory, but in return perhaps Coca-Cola Amatil may provide the testing fluid. A carton of Coke would be much appreciated, and I would be certain to pass on all relevant results from my experimentation.
Please address to:

Cloaker Josh
123 Totallyfake Lane
Sydney NSW 2000

Best Regards,

Cloaker Josh


  1. Replies
    1. A perfectly acceptable name for a young lady.

  2. How could they NOT send a carton of coke after reading that?

    1. I know, right? I mean, I was the one who had to force out for the lab!!