One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to be more creative and one way I’m doing that is picking creativity exercises from the brilliant book Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 exercises to wake up your brain.

Here’s this month’s challenge

Coca Cowpie

Some of the most powerful brands on the planet right now are soft drinks. The graphic qualities of the packaging are recognisable for just about every person alive. It makes you wonder what soft drink packaging would have been like in historical times. OK, maybe you don’t wonder that, but you’re going to start today. Your challenge is to create the soft drink can of choice for any of the following historical eras.

  • Old West
  • Impressionist Painters
  • Prehistoric Times
  • Medieval Times
  • Futuristic

Create the name of the soft drink, its flavour, and what the front of the can would look like.

This question amused me so much I had to choose it. Imagine what soft drink Monet drank, or Fred Flintstone, or Chaucer’s pilgrims. Ah, the luxury of choice!

I chose medieval times, and imagined some of Chaucer’s pilgrims might have wanted to refresh themselves on a journey. I came up with the name “Holy Soda”, and the tagline “the pilgrim’s favourite pop” before I remembered that there had been a product with that name on the Dutch market, and featuring a Dutch TV presenter walking on water. Oh well.

The flavours would be herbal, and sweetened with honey – since sugar cane hadn’t been invented in Europe yet. And fermenting the drink with a little yeast starter yields a slight fizz.

I had fun drawing a number of version of pilgrims on very shaky looking horses for the label before I realised that there weren’t canned drinks back then and the pilgrims would have stored drink in earthenware or glass. So Holy Soda is in a pure green glass bottle, and has a tied label on it, with the name and the tagline, and an image of Chaucer implying his endorsement.

In my mind the pilgrims can return the bottle and get a refilled one along their journey. So not only did I invent the world’s first soda, I also invented recycling. You’re welcome.

This was the best exercise yet in terms of how creative I felt. Partly because when I first started sketching it was with pencil and paper and I didn’t impose any of the historical accuracy restrictions. But even once I imposed those (and I know I haven’t been very strict), that made it more interesting to think about what would have been possible while retaining the concept of a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

I’d do this again and use other time periods, and I’d even use it as a brainstorm starting exercise in a training course.

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