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Saturday, June 18, 2005

see-oh-ell-ay, cola....

Alan of BuffaloPundit fame is of the belief that a certain line of scientific inquiry has finally yielded an answer, and that further inquiry along this line will be fruitless. He believes that we have finally created perfect diet cola, in the form of a brand-new item I knew nothing about until I read Alan's blog entry, Coca Cola Zero. Well, I was at Target last night with the kids and spotted a display of the stuff, and I bought a single bottle. I can't say that I found it all that indestinguishable from Classic Coke*, but it was the closest diet cola to its regular antecedent that I've tasted yet.

I decided, though, to give the Pepsi folks a try as well, so while food shopping today, I bought a twelve-pack of Pepsi One, which I am drinking now. As a commenter notes on Alan's blog, Pepsi One doesn't seem to hold its carbonation as long as any other diet cola I've tasted, which I find strange. That didn't bother me much since I tend to drink a can of cola in under four minutes, generally. But I did find Pepsi One's flavor to be fairly close to regular Pepsi, although its consistency was "thinner", if you know what I mean: regular Coke and Pepsi tend to have that thicker mouth-feel that their diet counterparts do not.

What's interesting to me is that Coke Zero is sweetened with aspartame, while Pepsi One is sweetened with Splenda. As artifical sweeteners go, I tend to like the flavor of Splenda (or sucralose) over aspartame, although the only place I really use artifical sweeteners is, in fact, in colas; I never attempt to bake with them although I do think Splenda tastes just fine in coffee. For tea, though, I'm not switching from honey, and my real favorite sweetener for coffee is Sugar-in-the-Raw, which I use when I get my morning coffee at the coffee bar in The Store. (I don't buy Sugar-in-the-Raw for use at home because it's too expensive for the two days a week that I drink coffee at home.) I wonder, anyway, just why it's taken so long for the Coke folks to make an aspartame-sweetened cola that tastes as close to the sugared version as Coke Zero does, given that Diet Coke -- which to my palate is only slightly preferable to the urine of a water buffalo -- has been also sweetened with aspartame for years. What have they done differently with this stuff? And will the Pepsi folks follow suit, refining their good old Diet Pepsi (still my favorite carbonated beverage) to remove that wonderful tinny aftertaste that I love so much? (I'm not kidding. I love that aftertaste. I don't know why. I know it's weird.)

* Is it necessary anymore to refer to "Classic Coke"? Is that "New" Coke still around at all, or has "Classic Coke" just become "Coke" again? And for that matter, is there any truth to the theory that "New Coke" was just a trick to cover up the switchover from sweetening "Classic" Coke with sugar to corn syrup? One of these days I'm going to have to track down some sugar-sweetened Coke so I can see what the real thing is really supposed to taste like. I know it's available around Passover, and probably in stores that cater to Jews who subsist on as orthodox a diet as possible. My own location of The Store doesn't carry it, since we don't have anything remotely resembling a large Jewish population in that part of town, but maybe one of the other locales has it.

Oh, and speaking of that, it's my understanding that the kosher food laws were established many centuries ago -- before the discovery of the Americas, and thus before corn was even known to exist. How can corn be a non-kosher item, then? Or does it have to do with the processes corn has to be put through to be edible, in terms of planting and harvest and the like? Any experts? I'm genuinely curious here.

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