Hospital houses innovative soda machine

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A local hospital offers some of the most unique and innovative technologies that help its patients with medical needs, and now they have a new technology that provides seemingly endless choices of liquid sustenance.

The Utah Valley Regional Medical Center was recently chosen by Coca-Cola to house its new “freestyle” Coke machine. The machine offers over 100 drink choices — all accessible from an easy-to-use touch screen.

UVRMC is the only hospital in the world that has the machine because Coke saw the hospital consumed a wide variety of Coke products, said Sarah Rich, a cafeteria worker at the hospital.

“They chose us to have it,” Rich said. “Lots of other hospitals have been calling, saying, ‘Why cant we get it?'”

The UVRMC isn’t the only place in Utah where the freestyle Coke machine can be found. The Dairy Keen restaurant in Heber City, the Larry H. Miller Theatre in Sandy and the TCBY fashion square in Murray are just a few of the nine Utah locations.

Ben Thomas, a registrar at the hospital, said he has been enjoying the Coke machine a few times a week. He said it has a different look from usual soda machines.

“It looks like the future, kinda like a robot,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the machine does a good job of switching flavors; there isn’t any residue of previously dispensed flavors.

The machine offers Coke’s most popular drinks like Sprite, Coca-Cola, Fanta and Barq’s along with some less familiar drinks like Pibb, Vault and Hi-C. Each drink has its own set of flavor additives like strawberry, peach or lime to personalize one’s flavor. The machine also offers a wide variety of sugar-free and some-caffeine free beverages.

“[I’m a] big fan of the Fanta,” Thomas said. “They have lime and cherry, so I like to mix those.”

The machine works with cartridges of flavors that combine with carbonation boosters to make a desired drink.

“There is actually a jet engine inside to power it to mix all the drinks,” Rich said.

Michael Swenson, professor of marketing at BYU, said the machine will likely increase revenue and provide useful information for Coca-Cola.

“This is Coke’s attempt to drive more business,” Swenson said. “In addition, the machine provides rich consumption data. Coke managers can use this information to make decisions regarding type and distribution of canned and bottled drinks.”

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