24 January 2023
(WDTN/NEXSTAR) – A popular Midwest fast-casual chain is ditching Pepsi products in favor of Coke beverages at all locations — and the switch is dividing loyal customers.
Culver’s, a Wisconsin-based chain which boasts roughly 900 restaurants throughout the Midwest and beyond, confirmed the news to Nexstar’s WDTN last week.
Eric Skrum, the company’s director of communications, added that Culver’s will still offer some of its mainstay beverages alongside the new Coke products.
“We would like to remind our guests that in addition to Coca-Cola products, many favorites including Culver’s Signature Root Beer, Diet Root Beer, Dr. Pepper, and fresh brewed sweetened and unsweetened tea are also available to enjoy with their fresh, never frozen ButterBurger,” Skrum said in a statement obtained by WDTN.
The chain’s official website has already been updated to reflect the change, with new beverages including Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Mello Yello, Minute Maid Lemonade, Hi-C and Powerade replacing Pepsi-owned products including Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Tropicana beverages.
The site’s copy has also been updated to note that Culver’s “proudly” serves Coke products, whereas an archived version of the webpages said the same of its Pepsi offerings only last week.
The change comes as upsetting news to plenty of Culver’s customers who complained on social media, with one critic calling it an “all-time blunder” and another dramatically claiming it was one of the “saddest” moments of her life.
“No more Pepsi? You just lost a customer,” wrote one of many upset (and perhaps former) Culver’s fans on the chain’s most recent Instagram post, which itself makes no mention of the beverage lineup. “Coke is everywhere and you having Pepsi is one of the reasons I come there. One more place I won’t frequent any more. Bad decision.”
“Listen, I’ll drink stuff from either company depending on where I’m at, but what am I gonna do when I get tenders and there’s no Mountain Dew?” another customer asked. “Some items just GO together, and Coke does NOT belong with Culver’s!”
Others, meanwhile, appeared thrilled at the idea of being able to order a Coke at Culver’s.
“Unpopular Midwestern Opinion: I, for one, am stoked that Culver’s is switching from pepsi to coke products,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Culver’s has always been the best but it got even better having Coke products now so like my life is complete,” another joked.
And then there were those who simply couldn’t believe all the fervor over fizzy drinks.
“I have seen more tweets about Culver’s changing from Pepsi to Coke than I have seen about the debt limit being hit,” one Twitter user wrote. “This is a BIIIG deal in the [M]idwest!”
“Seeing all these whiny people complaining about sugar water is hilarious,” another wrote. “OMG you fragile people.”
Skrum did not say when, exactly, all restaurants would be switching from Pepsi to Coke. A customer in Wisconsin tweeted out a photo of in-store signage that suggested the change would be taking place at different times in different regions.
Culver’s currently operates restaurants in 26 states, with the largest concentrations in Wisconsin (145 locations), Illinois (130), Michigan (93) Florida (93), Indiana (72) and Minnesota (60).