Restaurants & Bars

Wink™ Lives! But R.I.P. Ruby Grapefruit.

estufarian | Jul 15, 200401:25 PM     78

(For those not familiar with Wink™, it’s a Grapefruit/Orange flavoured soft drink (pop)).

It’s been a dry and thirsty summer! Even though it didn’t improve my lifestyle or my sex life (as promised by other beverages) Wink™ succeeded admirably in slaking my thirst. So what if there weren’t billboards of Wink™ showers reviving nubile bathers. At least I found it exciting and visitors often selected it from our household selection.

Then one day it wasn’t there in my local supermarket! So on to the next store. And the next. A few still stocked the 2 litre plastic bottles – but they tended to lose their fizz before being totally consumed. It was déjà vu all over again. A few years back, Wink™ had similarly disappeared for a few months, but had returned with a makeover. It was now C-Plus Wink™, but promised that “same Wink taste”. I pride myself on judging people and things by their deep down qualities, not their appearance, so I welcomed Wink™ back without overt questions although, deep down, I wondered why Wink™ had gone off for 3 months for a makeover, when I hadn’t perceived anything wrong before. Maybe Wink™ had lost its way and needed time for reflection.

And now it had gone again! This time I couldn’t just sit idly by. Maybe it wouldn’t return this time. And I had the power of the Internet and Google to help me. Just do a search and presto! – the answers would come. But Google didn’t seem to understand. It wanted me to research programming languages like C+ and C++. My language turned bluer. And Wink led me to all sorts of ‘smileys’ that just mocked me. The only useful information was that C-Plus Wink™ was approved as Kosher. And for some reason C-Plus Grape wasn’t Kosher! The mystery deepened.

Aha! But all foodstuffs must have the producer on the package right? Except, my supply was exhausted and the containers recycled. What to do now? Simple, post on Chowhound, where I could recruit thousands of assistants to investigate stores to find any remaining stock. So I attempted to recruit these Chowhound Investigative Assistants (CIA) to help in tracking down the vanishing Wink™. Indeed this did lead to isolated sightings and the purchase of a few samples. It also led to the discovery of C-Plus Ruby Grapefruit (in cans) – a product long rumoured, but never actually seen (it’s also Kosher). And on both cans and bottle were the producers – Cadbury Beverages Inc. Now things were moving. Back to Google – but all attempts to contact Cadbury Beverages led through the corporate maze to the brains behind this: Cadbury Schweppes plc. Smooth sailing now, presumably. Their web site had a choice of Country or Product. I knew my country, Canada, and scanned the drop-down product list. No trace of C-Plus or Wink™. But among the hundreds of products were 7-Up, A&W, Canada Dry, Clamato, Crush, Dr Pepper, Hawaiian Punch, Motts, Orangina, RC Cola, Roses, Schweppes, ReaLemon, Sunkist, Vernors and Welch’s. This was a daunting list. How could all these be listed and not Wink™? Or C-Plus? An uneasy feeling crept over me. Who was hiding the source of Wink™? I decided to press on in search of Wink™ Manufacturing Depots (WMD’s). I managed to find a Canadian phone number within the Customer Service listings for Cadbury Schweppes plc and called them direct. I’m sure nobody else has had this problem, but the only responses were automated – leading through a maze designed to deter anybody less resolute than I was. And there was the exit. For Consumer Enquiries or Complaints call 1-800-etc. Holding my breath I dialled. Dr. Pepper 7-Up USA came the automated voice. All of our Operators are busy….. so, releasing my breath, I waited. Eventually my time came and I, very politely, explained about my search for WMD’s. I’m put on hold but eventually someone returns. “This is the USA” I’m informed, “We don’t have WMD’s here, they’re available in Canada”. I ask for a contact number and another 1-800 number is provided.
This time the phone is answered much more quickly, so I assume I’m back in Canada. This is Pepsi-Cola Canada I’m told. I explain my search once again. “Yes, we bottle Wink™ on contract for Cadbury’s, but we just pass it over to them and we have no knowledge of when or where it’s distributed”. Subsequently they give me a contact number – the same 1-800 # I had before for Dr. Pepper. So it’s back to the mysterious Dr Pepper again. Another long hold before I get a representative who tells me that Wink™ isn’t produced in Ontario. But I still have the can and bottle, and by then have researched the product codes and confirmed that they are indeed owned by Cadbury Beverages Inc. I ask for a telephone number that will get me a person at the Beverages subsidiary. “We don’t give out phone numbers” I am informed. So I ask for a supervisor. “Just a minute”. After about 5 minutes listening to advertising the rep returns. “Apparently, Wink™ is still produced in New Brunswick”. A glimmer of hope. “But where can I buy it?” I ask, “Surely somebody in the organization has to know!” Eventually we agree on a procedure. She will investigate and call me back by the next day. I note her name, just in case – I’m getting more suspicious now.

This gives me time to ponder a few other strange things. Since I’ve started this quest for WMD’s I’ve noticed strange clickings on the telephone line. There have been several attempts to break through my computer firewall. An astonishing number of ‘consumer surveys’ have called my phone doing surveys wanting to know details of my financial affairs. And on a cross-border trip to the U.S. I’m pulled out of the line to check-in and have my hand-baggage taken from me and searched in another room. I’m kept away from most other passengers (except others pulled over) and eventually asked to identify my hand luggage. After I do so, I am escorted directly to the plane – but my checked luggage doesn’t arrive for 48 hours. When it does, there’s no insert indicating it’s been searched – yet the zipper is closed in a different position than I’d left it!!!!!!

I never get a call back! Eventually I call Dr Pepper again and when I outline, politely, the issue, I’m asked where I’m calling from. “Are you Estufarian(name disguised; they use my real name)” I’m asked immediately. OK, I think, maybe I can expect more border hassles. “I’ll get a Supervisor”. But no supervisors are available, yet I’m told that Wink™ is bottled by Coca Cola in Weston, Ontario. And I’m even given a phone number for the Depot. Maybe finally I’ve located the WMD! Even though the company who produces Wink™ also owns 7-Up; Pepsi Cola have admitted to bottling it; and now I’ve located the Coca Cola plant that actually produces it. Between these three companies there must be a world-wide information network that’s the equal of any government – and still I can’t be sure I’ve found a WMD!

So I call. And they answer “Coca Cola” – and the receptionist transfers me ……but the phone loops back to the reception desk again. Finally I’m transferred to “someone who can help me” – it’s someone in Marketing who is “away from my desk. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call”. I’m still waiting.

So nobody can find any WMD’s. But the CIA have reported that they’ve seen C-Plus “Wink Twist” in both formats so it must exist mustn’t it?

Addendum: Just prior to typing this I did manage to break through the Canadian Head Office phone system maze and found someone who could confirm that the product has been both reformulated and repackaged. The C-Plus brand is now larger in type and the previous Wink™ brand has been dropped and replaced with a ‘Flavour’ now called “Wink Twist”. And it’s coming soon to a store near you. But sadly, the Ruby Grapefruit flavour has been discontinued as part of the same rethinking.

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