Those of you who know me, will not be surprised if I told you that while in France recently, I was on a quest to find a fountain-drink Diet Coke. What may surprise you is that in 1992 I was on this same quest!
From my missionary journal. 8 July 1992 – Angoulême, France
So at 9:30 am we were ready to go! (During my mission, missionaries were supposed to be out of the apartment at 9:30 a.m.) We did some pass backs (following up on previous contacts we had made) and made one member visit to the LaFarge family. She was just leaving and we gave her the “Bulletin Angoumousin” and then cruised. (This was a monthly publication, similar to a ward newsletter. I somehow ended up being the one in charge of it.) We looked for another member but she had moved. But check this out! I see a fairly good-sized gas station, “ESSO” was the name. I said to my companion, “I want to see if this place has fountain drinks.” (Diet Coke!) Now I’ve searched up and down France for one. I didn’t expect to find one. But as I pulled up, I saw a poster with a big Coke, fountain-style drink, with ice in it. I looked closeley, and it said they had them in there! I looked inside and there I saw the smallest fountain-drink machine I’ve ever seen. But it was there at least! Oh la la! I ran to it with a tear in my eye, grabbed the largest cup, which was actually very small, a très petit cup, and asked the cashier as I looked around if there was ice. I got an odd look and a response of, “NOPE!” Well, fountain drinks clearly are not a thing here France. I sighed and filled it with Diet Coke. Not just Coke, but Diet Coke. I looked around and they had no lids either. I was probably the only person to ever buy a drink from the fountain machine. They all seemed very curious and confused as they watched me operate this machine that apparently had sat there untouched as long as anyone could remember. I walked up to the cashier beaming. I was so proud that I’d found this place! I’m guessing she had no idea how much to charge for the drink. Money was of no concern to me for I had a fountain-drink-style Diet Coke in hand, albeit the size of the free cups of water that you’d find at a water cooler. I tried to express how extremely happy I was and how I’d never seen one before in France, and I’d looked everywhere etc. etc. She didn’t care. I ignored her lack of interest. I had partaken in a revolution! I can see 7-11 stores everywhere soon! Mugs! Refills! Yes! Oui! Oh, I’m happy! Merveilleux! Incroyable! Well, I was quite a happy camper. It’s bound to be a good day!
The quest continues… From my missionary journal. 29 July 1992 – Angoulême, France
Yes, today would be a famous day. History was made! Angoulême was put on the map. Oh boy howdy! Yes, the rumors are true! McDonalds opened up today! Here! Yes, I actually made it there twice today! Once just to experience a fountain drink with ice. My first real fountain drink with ice in a year. Then later, all the missionaries met at 5PM for dinner with all the members our age. Stephan, Delphine, Natalie Humblot, etc. There were missionary bikes everywhere! “Le Big Mac” was fantastic! It was fun that they all came and ate with us. It really was great. We should do more proselytizing there! We also visited the family Boyer today and then we did a few errands. My bike is broken in the shop and my loner bike broke down in Fleac (city close by). I had to ride it to the shop flat. I was not too happy. Well, goodnight. JB
Sœur Chadwick and I spotted this Coke truck on our P-day in La Rochelle. Our companions are each holding our cameras and taking a picture of the two of us, both Coke drinkers, who were so excited to see an old friend. J’aime le coca-cola!
As I am writing this, I’m still sipping on a Diet Coke. I’m glad that now when I go back to BYU I can enjoy an ice cold refreshing Diet Coke on campus.