Parched: The struggles of a Diet Coke girl on a Pepsi campus

Bring your own Diet Coke on this Pepsi campus. Photo by Eva Hallman.


Some may say it’s a want others say it’s a need. For me, Diet Coke is definitely a need. 

It is a rivalry known worldwide; Coca-Cola versus PepsiCo because everyone wants something different. 

In 1886, Coca-Cola was invented. Six longing years later, the diamond of the season, Diet Coke was born. The sweet, but no-added-sugar, drink was inspired by Coca-Cola’s original diet soda TaB. Since 2011, Diet Coke has sat at the number two spot for sodas in America. 

In the top 39 fast food restaurants, Coca-Cola outwins Pepsi. Coke has the big chain names McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Pepsi’s big names are Taco Bell and KFC. 

Restaurants choose whether to be supplied by Coca-Cola or PepsiCo. Butler University chose Pepsi: a choice Diet Coke lovers do not agree with. 

When I choose where I want to eat, 99.9% of the time I will choose a place that has Diet Coke. If they do not have Diet Coke, I will grab one from McDonald’s on the way home. My day simply cannot go without a Diet Coke, especially one from McDonald’s. 

Senior political science major Chloe Hartford is also a fan of Diet Cokes from the Golden Arches. 

“If I’m out and about, I always get a large Diet Coke from McDonald’s,” Hartford said. 

To get that Diet Coke fix, other Butler students have also resorted to McDonald’s. 

Junior arts administration major Emily Leavey confessed she went almost three times a week last semester. 

“It’s like an addiction,” Leavey said. “They’re $1 on the [McDonald’s] app. Butler not having Coke products has steered me to go to other avenues.” 

On top of having to purchase a meal plan, Diet Coke fans have to purchase cans, bottles or fountain drinks to fulfill their cravings. Everyone should be able to get their favorites on campus. 

Mackenzie Hall, a junior finance and business technology double major, agrees that there should be a selection of everything on campus. 

“I think [having Coca-Cola in Plum Market] would be genius,” Hall said. “[Butler should offer Coca-Cola], especially in Plum when there are options of everything.” 

Being a Diet Coke drinker is a birthright. My mother is a proud, avid Diet Coke drinker. The reason I am a fiend for a crisp McDonald’s Diet Coke is because I was always around it growing up. While my addiction has grown post-high school, I remember getting a Diet Coke with my mom every day after school. I absolutely yearn for a Diet Coke after my 8:00 a.m.. It’s like a reward

Hall also grew up on Diet Coke. 

“My dad drinks Diet Coke, my mom drinks Diet Coke, so I drink Diet Coke,” Hall said. “I dabbled in Dr. Pepper and then had to come back to my roots. My whole life I don’t think I’ve ever taken a sip of Diet Pepsi because it’s bottom of the barrel.” 

As my mother and I love a crisp fountain Diet Coke, my grandma also has a whole section in her basement dedicated to old Coca-Cola merchandise. At one point her kitchen was Coca-Cola-themed. You cannot take the Coca-Cola out of my blood. 

When I looked at coming to Butler, I didn’t really take into account my Diet Coke addiction. It never crossed my mind that I could be stranded on a Diet Coke-less island. Yet here I am, wondering if I should have paid more attention to it. Never in my worst nightmares did I think Butler would stoop to Pepsi level. 

When I traveled for Speech and Debate tournaments, I always looked up what soda they had before arriving. I remember being so bummed that Ohio University was a Pepsi campus, but, at their dining facility, they had Coca-Cola bottles. I was so thrilled to get chicken tenders, curly fries and a crisp Diet Coke. 

Other schools like Ohio University have PepsiCo fountain drinks in their dining hall but still serve Coca-Cola products in cafes and markets. If Plum Market carried Diet Coke, all of my flex dollars would go towards that. Imagine a Tender Tuesday in Atherton with a refreshingly crisp Diet Coke. 

Allegedly, students believe that the reason Butler has Pepsi products is because our colors are blue, and Pepsi’s colors are blue. In Hinkle Fieldhouse, they do not want a red Coca-Cola sign. They want the aesthetic to be Butler blue throughout the facilities, thus Pepsi blue. 

This color theory only holds a tiny bit of truth when comparing school colors and their soda choice. The University of Alabama — whose colors are red and white —  is a Pepsi campus, and the University of Connecticut — whose colors are blue and white — is Coca-Cola. 

Leavey had yet to learn about this color theory but has seen Pepsi blending into campus. 

“I was in the basement of the pharmacy building, and there’s a Pepsi machine down there, Leavey said. “I just didn’t even notice it because the blue kind of blended into the blues of the wall.” 

Senior psychology major Arianna Glascott had a different idea of why Butler is a Pepsi campus. 

“I always thought it was for Gatorade,” Glascott said. 

Gatorade is a popular product under Pepsi, while Powerade is the sports drink under Coca-Cola — another rivalry, however, but this time Pepsi wins. Gatorade is more popular than Powerade, making it the preferred drink for athletics. 

But the truth is, Pepsi is cheaper. From cans to fountains, Pepsi products are marked lower than Coca-Cola products. However, Pepsi can mark up the products to gain a profit because students have no other choice but to purchase. 

Am I saying Butler is trying to save money by purchasing Pepsi? … Kinda. Every school has its reasons for selecting its soda affiliation. Pepsi gives kickbacks and incentives to schools in exchange for lower prices and season tickets. While I could not find any information specifically on Pepsi and Butler’s contract, I imagine it states that Butler has to be exclusive to Pepsi. Additionally in the contract, I suspect that Pepsi receives some special basketball tickets. 

Do I think Butler should switch to Coca-Cola products? Yes. Do I think they ever will? Probably not. This is a sad reality I must face for the next three years of my schooling. I cannot stand the taste of Pepsi. I know some say there is no difference … to me there is. 

For now, we Diet Coke stans will stay strong, for our campus is not safe. The enemy is all around us. We must retreat to a haven we all know and love McDonald’s.


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