PhotoChanging logos is always tricky. Even not changing your logo can be tricky, as Pepsi has been reminded recently. The Internet has lately been bubbling over with posts about a "patriotic can" that Pepsi supposedly produced with an edited version of the Pledge of Allegiance.

What was supposedly left out of the Pledge of Allegiance? According to a Facebook post by Brenda Franklin Shelton, it's the words "under God."

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We don't know where Ms. Shelton gets her information but Pepsi says it has never produced a patriotic Pepsi can, with or without a photo of the Empire State Building, the Pledge of Allegiance or anything similar.

The hoax has been floating around the Web for at least nine years, according to Pepsi. Its origin is unclear but it keeps popping up from time to time.

There is a slight bubble of truth amidst all the froth but it has nothing to do with Pepsi. In November 2001, Dr. Pepper – not related to, co-owned by or affiliated with Pepsi – wanted to honor those killed and injured in the 9/11 attacks, so it produced a can design featuring the Statue of Liberty with the words "One nation … indivisible" above it.

Perhaps lending credence to the old saw that no good deed goes unpunished, Dr. Pepper was subjected to the slings and arrows of consumer outrage for a few months, again by those who have trouble telling the Empire State Building from the Statue of Liberty but object to excerpting a few words to conjure up the spirit behind the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Just when Pepsi was recruited to be the new bad guy isn't clear but a ConsumerAffairs.com analysis finds that over the last 12 months, Pepsi's reputation has taken two big dips, one in March, when Shelton posted her false alarm, and another that began in July and continued through the end of August.

Although she missed her chance to spread false information in March, Alisha Gifford hopped right on the bandwagon on August 10, sending a rather hastily-composed warning to her many Facebook friends and asking them how fast they could "preposterous this."

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Does anybody care about this? Maybe not. After all, Pepsi is not a very controversial subject and our search of Facebook, Twitter and so forth found only 210,000 people discussing Pepsi over the last 12 months.

The conspiratorially-minded might imagine that this is some sort of blackmail stunt and that someone will (or, shhh, don't tell anyone, already has) demanded big bucks to turn off the faucet of unfounded lies and boycott demands.  

Our computerized sentiment analysis of the Facebook postings, Tweets and other Web blather leaves no doubt that a boycott is what the Great Pepsi Conspiracy is aiming for.

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Perhaps the false postings being feverishly distributed by Brenda Shelton, Alisha Gifford and friends are harmless but over time, they lend credence to those who seek to dismiss all consumer comments on the Web as hogwash, piffle and nonsense.

Kind of hard to argue with that in this case.

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Sentiment analysis powered by NetBase

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