When they first started popping up in places such as Texadelphia restaurants and Pei Wei locations six months or so ago, it was a pain just trying to figure out how to get Diet Coke into my glass. And I wasn’t the only one confused: The line to quench thirst started to become annoying because it often took four to five minutes to fill the glass.

There’s often still a bit of a wait as newbies figure out how to handle the touch-screen dispenser (my hint — you have to allow your finger to linger on your drink-of-choice’s logo longer than you have to keep it on your smart phone touchscreen), but people are figuring it out, and it’s kind of a hoot to pick among all kinds of soda choices such as lime, raspberry, orange Coke and more.

Coca-Cola’s new “Freestyle” soda machines, which can serve up to 125 different soft drinks, flavored waters, sports drinks and lemonades — even including Dr Pepper, which isn’t a Coke product — are now in 80 U.S. markets and growing. And soon, according to this AdAge magazine article, Coke will be spending lots of money promoting not just its drinks but also its new dispenser.

One interesting by-product of this innovation is that Coke can know by date and time which drinks are most popular (do people drink more flavored water for lunch, for example, and less at dinner?), which undoubtably will lead to other marketing-directed efforts in the future.

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