BYU to sell Coke after 60-year cola ban

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Brigham Young University Campus, Provo, Utah. Photo: Wikipedia

PROVO, Utah, Sept. 21, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Brigham Young University’s dining services is easing its hard stance on a soft drink.

The school will be selling cola, to be specific, and even more precisely, Coke, due to the school’s existing contractual obligation with the company. BYU is selling cola after banning the caffeine-laced soda since the mid 1950s.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been divided on whether colas are permitted by the Word of Wisdom, a scriptural admonishment to avoid items including “hot drinks,” which Church leaders later interpreted to mean coffee and tea.

Because both contain caffeine, some Church members interpreted that ingredient to be the problem, and extended their personal ban to caffeine-containing sodas.

In 2012, LDS Church leaders released a clarification:

“Despite what was reported, the Church revelation spelling out health practices (Doctrine and Covenants 89) does not mention the use of caffeine. The Church’s health guidelines prohibits alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and ‘hot drinks’ — taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee.”

Following the Coke announcement, Dean Wright, director of Dining Services, posted an online Q-and-A to address some of the pressing questions about the change:

Q:  When did Dining Services make the decision not to sell caffeinated soft drinks?

A:  In the mid 1950s, the director of BYU Food Services decided not to sell caffeinated soft drinks. This decision has continued on since that time. Until more recently, Dining Services rarely received requests for caffeinated soda. Consumer preferences have clearly changed and requests have become much more frequent.

Q:  Has the university been supportive of this decision?

A:  Yes, the Administrative Vice President has been supportive and has kept the President’s Council informed.

Q:  When will this change go into effect?

A: We have already started adding caffeinated soft drinks to the inventory of beverages we sell on campus. Although we are now offering canned and bottled caffeinated soft drinks, it will take longer to change out our fountain equipment.

Q:  In changing out the fountain machines, will BYU be able to get the new “freestyle” dispensers?

A:  We will provide the latest dispensing equipment at certain locations on campus.

Q:  Will Dining Services continue to provide caffeine-free soda?

A:  Yes. All of the soft drinks, and other beverages, that BYU currently provides will continue to be offered.

Q:  Are you going to sell energy drinks?

A:  Highly-caffeinated energy drinks will not be sold by Dining Services.

Q:  There are those who would say that Dining Services should not be offering soda at all?  How do you respond to these concerns?

A:  We realize that there are many choices to be made, and some are more nutritious than others. We strive to offer a variety of food choices and encourage our customers to make healthy choices. We encourage our patrons to visit the Dining Services website where a program is available to promote not only healthy eating, but also a healthy lifestyle. The program is referred to on the website as EAT:  Eat, Act, Think.

Q:  Does this change your contract with Coca-Cola?

A:  No. We have notified Coca-Cola of this change, and our business relationship will continue as before.

Q:  Was this decision financially motivated?

A:  This decision was not based on financial considerations. We are simply working to meet the preferences of our customers.

Q:  Can other vendors now sell caffeinated soft drinks on campus?

A:  Just as before, our contract is with Coca-Cola. It is very important that we abide by this contract, which permits us to only offer Coca-Cola products. There are few, limited exceptions; however, it would be a violation of that contract to allow others to come onto campus and sell competing products.


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