Slideshow: Coke's Packaging Over the Years

Coca-Cola Still Classic -- Just Not in Its Name

Brand Quietly Phasing Out Word After Two Decades

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NEW YORK ( -- So long, Classic.

Coca-Cola spokesman Scott Williamson said, 'We're taking very deliberate steps to make sure people understand that the Coca-Cola they love remains unchanged.'

Coca-Cola says it's clearly a classic in American's hearts and minds, so the word "classic" is being dropped from its name. The brand plans to gradually phase out the word "classic" from its flagship cola products during the first half of this year. (Did you even remember "classic" was on the can?)

The word was added in 1985 to signal that the brand was using its original formula after consumers decried the introduction of a new recipe under the New Coke banner. The word "classic" has only been used in the U.S.

But the word has gradually outlived its usefulness as the company has sought an increasingly global approach. The popular "Coke side of life" and new "Open happiness" campaigns have not used the word. "Classic" would have been used only in advertising specific to North America, said Scott Williamson, a Coca-Cola spokesman.

"It felt like the right time," he said. "When people think Coca-Cola, they think classic. More than two decades after the introduction of that word, its reason for being a descriptor has disappeared."

Click here to see how Coca-Cola bottles and cans have changed throughout the years.

Beverage Digest, a beverage-industry trade publication, first reported the news.

Gradually downsized
Mr. Williamson said a new 16-ounce package, which is set to roll out nationwide, is the first to drop the word "classic." Leading up to that decision, the word was gradually downsized and eliminated from some areas all together. Cups for fountain drinks, for example, have already dropped the word.

The elimination of "classic" has prompted few questions from consumers, Mr. Williamson said. Still, the company is being exceedingly cautious. The word will gradually disappear without any fanfare. And language on the package that now says "Coke Original Formula" will be changed to "Coke Classic Original Formula."

"We're taking very deliberate steps to make sure people understand that the Coca-Cola they love remains unchanged," Mr. Williamson said.

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