< Fresh Approach: The Cola Challenge

Monday, June 20, 2005


The Cola Challenge

I am always giddy when I hear about new products in the market. Yesterday, for instance as I was making a beeline for the dried pasta section to read the ingredients on the recently launched Multi-Grain Pasta from Barilla, when I was diverted (actually, I stopped dead in my tracks) when I spotted the new, exciting and enticing Coca-Cola Zero. (No, I haven't been in a hole and missed the gigantic launch campaign. I was in England. Which is not exactly a hole, since there is a little more sunlight) That's right kids. Coke with no sugar in it. Not exactly a new concept, but I was intrigued. I just had to know what the difference between Diet Coke (or as everyone else in the world calls it, Coke Light.) a sugar free cola beverage and Coke Zero, a sugar free cola beverage by the same manufacturer was. I bought a few bottles for a side by side tasting, (a la the Pepsi Challenge) and label comparison. I also went to the Coke website, (which is hilarious. There are recipes, FAQs, history and my favorite, the rumor page.) and basically found out the difference is who they are marketing it to. Seems that mostly ladies drink DC, even though research suggests boys want a calorie free option too...according to their press release "Coca-Cola Zero will be sweetened with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium (ace-k) Brand name: Sunett" and will be marketed primarily to men and boys.

As for the soda itself, I'm not the biggest fan of cola in general, (my father calls it belly-wash or gullet-rot. Charming, eh?) but I do like the occasional tipple and thought it would be fun (and hyper active) to see if these products are noteably different in taste and most importantly, aftertaste.

So now, for you Coca-Cola addicts (and those of you with fear-of-splenda) here is the Fresh Approach Coke Product breakdown:

Coca-Cola Classic - Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors (vegetable source), caffeine

Diet Coke - Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, sodium saccharin, potassium benzoate (to protect taste), natural flavors (vegetable source), citric acid, caffeine, potassium citrate, aspartame, dimethylpolysiloxane. Phenylketonurics: Aspartame contains phenylalanine.

C2 - Water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, potassium benzoate (to protect taste), potassium citrate, caffeine, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose

Coca-Cola Zero - Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium and caffeine

My personal blind tasting (cold soda, no ice) of these four products had Diet Coke as the clear winner, Coke Classic next, Coke Zero then C2. I was amazed at how easy it was for me to pick out the ones I was familiar with. The Coke Zero left almost no aftertaste (the way I find Diet Coke does) and was much spicier. (It is my understanding that Cola is predominantly flavored with a synthetic reproduction of kola nuts and cloves. Nutmeg and vanilla are secondary flavors. ) C2 was like drinking chemicals...the sweetener was overwhelming and the flavors were over pronounced. And Coke Classic, well, it tasted just like it should. Sweet and spicy with a great effervesense and just a slightly sweet aftertaste.

I was surprised to see a second diet product from Coke, but with all of the artificial sweetener choices out there, it is no surprise to me that they are trying new things. I hope this was of interest. Tomorrow, back to food, I promise.


Coca-Cola makes more than 400 products that are available in 200 countries

Diet Coke with Lime was the number one selling flavored cola of 2004

The kola nut is the edible seed of several species of tropical tree. Many soft drink manufacturers now use synthetic chemicals that resemble the flavor of kola nuts.

Hi Rachael
Interesting tasting notes! I do find it interesting that they are trying to "beef up" the marketing campaigns for diet drinks for men though. Just like male moisturisers come in blokey tough-looking functional bottles!
To me, Coke Light and Diet Coke taste nothing alike. I love Coke Light and think Coke Zero tastes almost exactly like it. Weird, huh? Maybe it's all in my mind.
i really like the coke zero, and there is also a diet coke with splenda that i love.
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