The soft drink maker is pairing soda, sweet tea and even sparkling water with prepare-at-home meals.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated July 20, 2017
Courtesy of Chef'd

Would you like a drink with that meal kit? Whether it’s the first question you get asked when you sit down or the last question you get asked before pulling around to the pickup window, the option of a beverage is a key part of any restaurant experience. However, though the growing meal kit delivery industry often boasts that it’s a replacement for eating out, drink choices are generally ignored, meaning you’re left with whatever is already stocked in your fridge or wine rack.

But Coca-Cola is hoping to change that dynamic. The beverage behemoth has made its first foray into the meal kit delivery business by teaming up with Chef’d to offer six “Refreshing Meal Inspirations” – kits that come paired with a predetermined Coca-Cola-produced beverage. “Beverage pairings aren’t just for wine anymore—your favorite sodas, teas, and sparkling water beverages can add depth and bring out the best flavors in your meal,” Chef’d says on its website. “These recipes were specifically created to give you a complete flavor experience.”

Those experiences include Beef Short Rib Tacos paired with good ol’ classic Coca-Cola, Grilled Baby Back Ribs paired with Gold Peak sweet tea, Bacon Cheeseburgers paired with Coca-Cola Life, Roasted Quartered Chicken paired with Dasani sparkling Meyer lemon water, Shrimp Yakisoba paired with Dasani sparkling blood orange water or Chicken and Mushroom Marsala paired with Gold Peak unsweetened tea.

“Beverages are an integral part of the meal occasion, and Coca-Cola has a rich and long history of complementing and enhancing great meals,” Coca-Cola’s John Carroll told Beverage Daily. “As people look for more convenient meal solutions we want our brands to be part of that…. We want to go where our consumers are going.” Carroll emphasized that these pairings weren’t necessarily picked willy-nilly either. “We also work with a panel of culinary advisers who provide a lot of input and insight into complexities and subtleties of flavor palates and pairings for an elevated meal experience,” he added.

As some analysts suggest, if meal kits really are a “threat” to the restaurant business, that could be troubling news for companies like Coca-Cola that are already facing flagging sales of soda and other sweet beverages. Since many large restaurant chains have established beverage partners, it only makes sense that the same may happen in the meal kit space as well. But unlike at a restaurant, at home, diners aren’t held hostage by whatever beverage options happen to be sold at that particular eatery. Whether getting a predetermined drink with a meal kit is considered a benefit or an annoyance is yet to be seen.