Coke’s final Creation not quite a Dreamworld

Newest flavor in beverage empire’s “Creations” line is unique but suffers from strong aftertaste, bizarre marketing



The promotional material for Coca-Cola’s new “Dreamworld flavor reveal its unexpected color scheme and appeal to the existential.

Noah Braun, staff reporter

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: I am not a Coca-Cola fan. Their “classic” flavor was always overrated to me. It seemed for the longest time that it was consumed by people of at least the age of 30 for the sake of familiarity and tradition, not for any actual enjoyment of the taste to be gathered from the stuff. It looks, however, like the legendary Coke marketing team took note of this failure to appeal to younger generations (it seems all I ever see off-campus students return with is Dr. Pepper), and, in an effort to grab the attention of all these internet-dwelling Gen-Z’ers, launched the “Creations” limited edition series of drinks in 2022. 

According to the official Coca-Cola website, the newly-released “Dreamworld” flavor is the last of the year that falls under the “Creations” umbrella. Apparently, there have been three others in this line, those being “Byte,” “Starlight,” and some other one that has famous Fortnite skin and also musician “Marshmello” on the can. I had only ever heard of and tried the second one in that list, and I did not enjoy it at all. “Starlight” encompasses everything that I dislike about soda: it is too sweet, the bottle and color is off-putting, and it leaves a weird aftertaste. In other words, my expectations were set pretty low for “Dreamworld.” 

My enjoyment can really be boiled down to the fact that I was expecting worse Coke, but I got, well, something else. ”

But, to my surprise, it was actually decent. It looks more like an actual Coke as opposed to that weird, pink-ish hue that “Starlight” had, which is already a good sign. It is very fizzy, like one would expect, so no complaints with the texture, either. The real twist is in the flavor: with “Starlight,” my initial reaction was, this is regular Coke — oh wait, never mind, it tastes like bubblegum now and my dining experience is ruined. “Dreamworld” tastes a lot more like fruit (or what passes for that artificial “fruit” flavoring that gets added to what is otherwise sugar), what others have more specifically described as “peach,” but I kind of disagree with this take. I think a more apt description is that it tastes like how citrus-scented soap smells, but in a good way. My enjoyment can really be boiled down to the fact that I was expecting worse Coke, but I got, well, something else. 

It isn’t perfect, though: you get desensitized to the taste I have been praising pretty quickly, to the point where by the time you’re at the bottom of the bottle, it’s just “sugar flavor.” I can almost give this a pass since I think most soft drinks suffer from this problem, but it’s the aftertaste that really gets me. It’s tolerable at first, but it lingers on your tongue for too long. Whatever flavoring ingredients the scientists at Coke HQ are using for “Dreamworld” are also far too potent; I wear Invisalign, and I knocked back a bottle of this new Coke with my trays in. I took them out to eat something, and when I put them back in, I could still taste the damn soda. That’s too much power for a soda to have. I can forgive even this, though, since something vastly more unnerving has been looming over my thoughts, and that is the whole branding and marketing of the “Creations” campaign.

It really pisses me off. 

The general pitch of this line of products is downright confusing. Was the marketing team so starved for ideas that they have been forced into the realm of existential concepts to describe their different types of sugar water? While this is clearly nothing more than an attempt to resonate with the ongoing zeitgeist of the 2020s, I cannot think of a single person who would find this relatable. Who picks up a bottle of the new Coke flavor and finds in themselves some sort of resonance with a plastic tube of brown sugar water? The theme of “surrealism” is too vague to be clearly distilled into a consumable, mass-produced item. Anything can be pushed to a surreal extent, and the concept can be narrowed down to so many varied examples that it makes this year’s four final “Creations” flavors feel disconnected from one another.

The pleasant initial taste of Coca-Cola’s new “Dreamworld” flavor is outweighed by its far too potent aftertaste. Promotional image for Coca-Cola’s new “Dreamworld” flavor.

It seems as though the entire strategy of this campaign is not to create something appealing due to its promised quality but to create many somethings that catch the eye because it’s different and, frankly, just weird. There aren’t many things that reflect this sentiment as well as the packaging for “Dreamworld.” When I was scanning the fridges at my local Walgreens looking for this aforementioned new Coke variant, my eyes passed over it multiple times before I realized that it had been sitting right in front of me. For this goof, I blame the out-of-place color palette that decorates the outside portion of every bottle of the “dream flavored” soda. The geniuses down at Coca-Cola have really put their product at risk by making the new bottle’s colors the color that I would least associate with their brand: baby blue. Blech. I almost did a double-take when I figured this out. Even Starlight, contrary to my grievances with its color, sort of got this right: the pink packaging resembled the classic red enough for me to recognize it. Why not make the packaging purple if you want to use a “cool” color? It would be closer on the color wheel to red than light blue, that’s for sure. I wasn’t sure if unintentional misdirection was even achievable by a marketing team with such a storied history, but I guess it is. 

While this is clearly nothing more than an attempt to resonate with the ongoing zeitgeist of the 2020s, I cannot think of a single person who would find this relatable.”

And, while we’re on the topic of pointless ambiguity, the whole confusion around what I am putting into my body is not appreciated. The label saying the drink is “space” or “dream” flavored tells me nothing about the bev’ itself. The manufacturers claim to be trying to ask the consumer to look inward and ask themselves what a dream tastes like, and after trying their product, I am still asking that question. I would, in the marketing team’s position, sell future flavor variants with the way it is supposed to taste right there on the bottle. A tried-and-true method, I argue. That way, I can know what to expect and would feel much less pandered to. Those who are fans of the “Coke Creations” line (of which there are apparently quite a few, since, according to the Coca-Cola Company themselves, the limited edition flavors performed well amongst members of their target audience) may say that this proposed branding method is bland and predictable, and led to such blunders as the orange-vanilla flavor that plagued stores a couple of years ago, but I say that is good as well; at least that means I can avoid it. 

It is worth reiterating that most of these complaints are slated against the “Coke Creations” branding as a whole, and most are not problems that I have exclusively with “Dreamworld.” I would give the flavor about a six out of 10, it’s decent. Try it if you want, but I wouldn’t say you’re missing out exactly.