Blogs » Quixotic Quicksand » The Great Soda Migration


All of this talk on the Loon’s blog about prescription drugs inspired me to reflect upon one of my obligatory visits to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, for affordable medication.

Upon venturing across the border, one thing I observed almost instantly was the taste of the Mexican sodas. The diet sodas, called Coca-Cola Light and Pepsi Light, tasted refreshingly better than the swill being sold in the U.S. These drinks didn’t have the pernicious and obtrusive bite that is present in many of the aspartame-sweetened American drinks.

However, being the wary diabetic that I am, I immediately checked the label on the Mexican soda after I took my very first sip. I wanted to ensure that there was not any sugar hidden among the ingredients…Nope. No sugar. In fact, most of the ingredients were the same ones used in American sodas. The aspartame was present but unnoticeable.

This disparity bothered me so much that I decided to email Coca-Cola in January 2004 to ask them why Americans were getting the short end of the diet drink stick. Here is their reply, verbatim:

Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company, Ms. T. We
appreciate your interest in our brands.

Coke light and diet Coke are both low-calorie soft drinks, and we offer
diet products for the segment of the population that prefers
low-calorie carbonated beverages.

In certain countries, the word "diet" is not used to describe
low-calorie foods and beverages. In these countries, we offer Coke light. The
sweetener blend used for Coke light is formulated for each country
based on consumer preference.

We hope this clears up any confusion regarding these products. Please
let us know if you have any questions in the future.

The Coca-Cola Company
Industry and Consumer Affairs

Hmmm…I don't exactly remember getting asked what my "consumer preference" was. Was that a question on the 2000 U.S. Census? Perhaps the people in the soda industry who make such decisions about taste do not even drink diet sodas. If that be the case, then they probably don’t care what we drink as long as it sells.

But I digress. Flash forward to 2005. Americans stores are now stocked with Coke Zero and Diet Coke with Splenda, both of which I think taste much better than Diet Coke. In fact, Coke Zero tastes suspiciously similar to Mexico’s Coca-Cola Light. I also hear that new and improved (if those two conditions can indeed exist together) Diet Pepsi products are now available in the northern half of the U.S.

Coincidence? Maybe. But maybe it was my inquiry that made the difference. Maybe I’m the one who’s responsible for liberating the taste buds of diet soda drinkers nationwide!

So there you go. If you like the new sodas, then you can thank me personally the next time you see me. If you don’t like the new sodas, well…Sorry…There’s still plenty of plain ole Diet Coke left for you.