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The Competitive Eater Who Helped Bring Back Crystal Pepsi

In 1992, after a string of test market successes, PepsiCo launched a brand of clear soda, Crystal Pepsi, nationwide. After early buzz that included a Van Hagar-soundtracked Super Bowl ad and some initial success, the cola’s popularity petered out and by 1994 PepsiCo had stopped production. More than 20 years later, Crystal Pepsi is poised for a comeback, and it's all thanks to a persistent competitive eater and a whole bunch of vomit.

Kevin Strahle, a.k.a. L.A. Beast, runs a YouTube channel where he takes on extreme eating challenges and stunts. In 2013, he bought 20-year-old Crystal Pepsi off eBay for $80 and filmed himself chugging it. In the video he expresses surprise that the stale soda tastes "amazing," but he soon becomes queasy, asking, “Is it supposed to sit in your stomach like that?” before he barfs it all out in a wide, crystal clear spray. The video currently has over 11 million views on YouTube.

“Since that day,” Strahle says over the phone, “I’ve been passionate about Crystal Pepsi.” The video helped grow his fame on the Internet, and L.A. Beast's YouTube channel currently has 1.2 million subscribers.

This April, Strahle bought another bottle of Crystal Pepsi with an even grander goal in mind. In a video titled “Pepsi Needs To Bring Back Crystal Pepsi (Warning: Extreme Rainbow Vomit)", Strahle drinks five squirt bottles of colored milk through his nose, chugs a SURGE (another once-discontinued soda), and pounds a yellow-tinted 20-year-old Crystal Pepsi. He then takes a homemade painting of a Crystal Pepsi bottle and upchucks neon puke all over it.

“I have spoken on the phone with Pepsi Cola,” Strahle says into the camera with a pro-wrestler’s intensity, “And they have told me on several different occasions that they do not have the time, the energy, or the money to spend on a campaign such as bringing back Crystal Pepsi.” Strahle's plan was to circumvent the company and launch the campaign himself. He sold the vomit-covered painting on eBay for $5,000, which he then used to help fund his efforts. He bought billboards in Los Angeles and urged his fans to swarm Pepsi’s social media accounts with the hashtag #BringBackCrystalPEPSI. The soda’s Instagram page was flooded with over 50,000 comments about the campaign and a Change.org petition has so far gathered almost 35,000 signatures.

On June 8th, Pepsi sent Strahle a letter informing him his plan worked; Crystal Pepsi is coming back:

“Everything has just kind of exploded,” Strahle says. “It’s awesome. I’m speechless.”

Whether PepsiCo plans to issue the soda as a limited release or goes for a full rollout with Crystal Pepsi is still unknown, but the above letter has been confirmed as real.

The man who PepsiCo cordially calls “Mr. Beast” actually used to work for the company. “I worked on the trucks delivering Pepsi in the summers in college,” he says. From 2008 to 2010 he stocked shelves for the soda manufacturer and hoped to move his way up to sales, but was told he “wasn’t persistent enough to be a salesman.”

“I have never forgotten that,” he says. “The satisfaction’s there.”

As for other discontinued products he’d like to lend his powers of resurrection to, Strahle has some ideas. “People have already started saying they want Dunkaroos back and 3D Doritos. I think another drink from my childhood I can get behind is Hi-C Ecto-Cooler. I was on eBay and like the top bid for one original little juice box sold for like $800 dollars. The potential for those guys to make money is insane.”

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Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site HowMuch.net created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and Cable.co.uk, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view HowMuch.net’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

[h/t Thrillist]

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Logging On to Public Wi-Fi Networks Is About to Get More Secure
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If you link up to a public Wi-Fi network like the one offered by your local coffee shop, you should know that your connection probably isn't very secure. Free Wi-Fi connections aren't encrypted, so other users on the network can potentially spy on what you're doing and steal your usernames and passwords.

But according to CNET, the Wi-Fi Alliance—a group made up of member companies like Apple and Intel that creates Wi-Fi standards and certifies products—has announced a major change to Wi-Fi security that's coming in 2018. A new security protocol called WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3) makes networks more secure against hackers, whether it's your computer, smartphone, or Wi-Fi-enabled fridge that's connected (just in case you take your smart fridge to Starbucks).

You're probably already familiar with WPA2, the security system many Wi-Fi networks already run on. This is just an improvement on that system—a much-needed update after a computer scientist discovered a major vulnerability in October 2017—with better data encryption and higher security requirements. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, it can protect users even if they use terrible passwords. (Which you shouldn’t.)

Right now, there are a few steps you can take to make your online experience more secure while you’re in public, but not everyone takes the time to put them in place. These new Wi-Fi protections don't require the extra step of going into your settings and making sure you've turned off file settings or subscribing to a VPN service.

The change is set to debut sometime in early 2018, according to a representative from the Wi-Fi Alliance. Until then, remember: A VPN really is your best friend. It may not completely protect you from hackers looking to steal your information, but it's a lot safer than surfing on your own.

[h/t CNET]

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