June 16, 2004

Coke Evil

Coca-Cola C2 has hit the shelves of my local supermarket. Being a recovering addict lover of Coke I had to give it a try.

Disclosure: I have a mild cold and my taste buds are not functioning completely properly.

The new can design has prompted me to name this new Coke “Coke Evil.” Not only is “Coke Evil” a much better name than the pathetic “C2,” it is clearly what the artists had in mind. The can is dark red, like drying blood. There are black highlights in the logo, and a cold, futuristic “C2™” at the top of a can which stares at you like the eye of Polyphemus… er, before he was blinded.

I cracked it open and the unmistakable aroma of Coke wafted up to my nostrils. “Nectar of the gods” as my mother-in-law has called it. Yes, we are a family of Coke fiends.

At this point I must confess that lately I try not to drink the stuff. My interest in C2 is to perhaps allow me the occasional indulgence with slightly less guilt. I really don’t like Diet Coke. A lower-sugar Coke mitigates the damage to my blood sugar and tooth rot. At 70 calories a can, it’s still of dietary significance. That’s only 20 calories fewer than a Hershey bar. Ten fewer calories than a pair of Reese’s peanut butter cups. It gives one pause, thinking that at one time I easily downed a number of these in a day at twice the sugar (twice the calories, as all the calories are from sugar). In actuality, regular Coke has more than twice the sugar at 39 grams to C2’s 18.

A light beer hovers around 5 grams of carbohydrates (sugars and stuff, depending on brand). Except for Sam Adams which has 9 grams. That explains the halfway-decent flavor. Guinness has 17.6 grams of carbs, close to a C2! But you see the caloric effect of alcohol… Guinness has more than two and a half times the calories of C2, 194 calories. Clearly, Guinness is a force to be reckoned with.

I poured Maggie a bit of it, and she had the first taste. Her quick comment was that it tasted good, but retained a diet aftertaste. She observed that it made her want to keep drinking, since you only got the aftertaste when you stopped. You see? Compulsion to keep consuming. A sure sign of evil.

I raised the can to my lips. The initial taste was all Coke. The mouthfeel was only slightly thinner than regular Coke, and I could feel the sugar on my teeth, slightly clinging just like “The Real Thing.” Maggie was right, there is a bit of an aftertaste, but I found it to be much less than I expected. They have cut down on aftertaste by mitigating the aspartame with sucralose. It’s a chemistry experiment in a can.

However, 15 minutes later, I’m craving another one. I’ll refrain, because the caffeine is the last thing I need right now. But my review of this beverage is clearly positive… positively evil.

My prediction is that Coke Evil is going to have the power to lure people into drinking Coke when they should refrain. In other words, success for the Coca Cola company.

Posted by James at June 16, 2004 1:02 AM
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Comments

Thank you for doing the dirty work and trying this for us. Sweet Scituate Resevoir water, straight from the tap, for me, thanks.

Like most "lite" foods, I have no doubt a huge, lucrative chunk of Americans will decide "it's healthy, so I can have 3 times as much."

Posted by: Bil at June 16, 2004 3:05 AM

Yes, that seems to be the way with diet foods. If it weren't the company wouldn't produce them.

You can't make money off a new product if it's only eating into the sales of your other products. It either has to lure nnon-customers in or encourage existing customers to consume more.

Posted by: James at June 16, 2004 9:36 AM

Naturally, if it lures people away from their no-calorie sodas (I know someone who drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day), they're just gonna get fatter.

I liked Pepsi One, which I think was roughly on the same idea in that they used sucralose instead of, or in addition to, aspartame. But they were going for only one calorie, so I'm sure this tastes different.

All I know for sure is that my attempt to "cut" regular Coke with Diet Coke had an unfortunate-tasting result. New Coke was a bad idea too. "C2" needs to be less repulsive than either. It also has to taste better than Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi One - otherwise there will be little reason for anyone to drink it.

Posted by: Julie at June 16, 2004 12:21 PM

I've cut Coke with Diet Coke. This is definitely better.

Posted by: James at June 16, 2004 1:41 PM

I stopped drinking caffinated cola a long time ago... now I partake of it only rarely. My preferred poisons are Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Barq's French Vanilla Cream Soda. MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

That said, I'll probably give C2 a try... just to see what it is like.

Posted by: Chuck S. at June 16, 2004 2:00 PM

i like it better than Coke Regular (and the little known Coke Mandatory), there's none of that caramel coating feeling on my teeth. The taste also seems to be stolen away once you swallow it. This brings about the real reason for C2. You see, the company was being overrun with wee little "taste-stealing" gnomes. Solution: put the gnomes in a soda!! This gets rid of the gnomes and also allows for a lower sugar content (the taste obviously lies in the sugar). All in all, Coke Evil isn't all that bad

btw: Chuck, were can i get barq's french vanilla cream soda!?!? it sounds tasty!

Posted by: ryan at June 16, 2004 2:14 PM
Chuck, were can i get barq's french vanilla cream soda!?!? it sounds tasty!

You can get it pretty much anywhere you by Barq's Rootbeer. It *is* tasty! Yum.

Posted by: Chuck S. at June 16, 2004 3:11 PM

Chuck, You might want to check to make sure there is no caffeine in the Barq's. I KNOW they spike their root beer with caffeine (it has as much as coke). If I were you I'd stick to IBC (Polar is not bad for a cheaper alternative).

Posted by: Bob at June 16, 2004 3:56 PM

That's what I was thinking, too, Bob.

But their website doesn't seem to give nutrition info.

Posted by: James at June 16, 2004 4:02 PM

Nope. After all, it's just a stimulant that some people are very sensitive to, so why anyone want to know the exact dosage they're getting??

Hello, FDA? Hello?

If you call the toll-free number on the can, I think they will tell you. I know they used to. I called some soft drink hotline maybe 10 years ago because I was surprised it had any caffeine at all. It was orange soda or root beer or something like that. Not only did they give me the numbers for that soda, they also gave me the numbers for other sodas I asked about!

It's funny, Ryan - I never cared for that caramel tooth-coating effect either, but I didn't realize it was something other people noticed. It's probably why I like my Coke watered down with a lot of ice.

Posted by: Julie at June 16, 2004 5:12 PM

That feeling was what I was trying to describe as "slightly clinging" in my review. I first thougth "gritty" but that wasn't the right word. As opposed to you and Ryan, I rather miss it if it's not there, as in Diet Coke.

It's not that it's an essential part of enjoying Coke, it's just that I guess I'm used to it. As much as I'd like to think I don't have comfort foods provided by huge corporations, Coke is a comfort because it's so familiar. I'm a victim of brand. But I guess I don't mind so much because... I can stop any time I want. Really, I can. Really.

Posted by: James at June 16, 2004 6:44 PM

D'oh! How'd I miss that?

When I was a kid, if I had a stomachache, my mother would give me Coke syrup. I have no idea where she got it, but it really did seem to soothe my stomach. That was one time when the clingy feeling was soothing.

I don't know where to get coke syrup now, but sometimes, if I feel sick and I happen to have any Coke, I'll nuke it until it's warm and flat. It's not quite the same, but it's still kind of a reverse-bernaise effect.

Warm flat Pepsi does nothing for me at all. Not surprisingly. :)

Posted by: Julie at June 17, 2004 10:08 AM

Reverse-Bernaise is a good way to describe a lot of comfort foods. :)

Sometimes we don't know why they make us feel good, they just do. And, if we think back, there is often a childhood memory involved.

Posted by: James at June 17, 2004 10:47 AM

Since Chuck brought up the FDA, I feel compelled to give you the URL: www.fda.gov. It's a treasure trove of information.

Perhaps my favorite "Q" on the "Consumer Advice
on Food Safety, Nutrition, and Cosmetics" site is "How does one recognize quackery?"

How indeed? A lesson we all need to learn for many aspects of our lives.

Posted by: Patti M. at June 17, 2004 4:53 PM

C2 tastes great - I like the fact that more companies are offering products that are geared towards lower carbs

Posted by: Wendy at June 21, 2004 5:00 AM

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