Thursday, July 08, 2004

No Coke. Pepsi 

Per usual, this stems from a lunchtime conversation, this one starting from a comparison of Pepsi Edge & C2, the two new "low carb" sodas on the market.

What sweeteners are in which:

Pepsi Edge: high fructose corn syrup &/or sugar, sucralose [Splenda]
C2: high fructose corn syrup &/or sugar, aspartame [Nutrasweet/Equal], acesulfame [Sunette/Sweet One], sucralose [Splenda]

The deal with sucralose:
Sucralose is derived from sugar through a multi-step patented manufacturing process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. This change produces a sweetener that has no calories, yet is 600 times sweeter than sucrose.

So C2 is cutting the sweetness of the sucralose by including the aspartame & acesulfame, which makes sense since you figure they're trying to taste more like Coke compared to Pepsi which is so much sweeter.

What's up with the Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine warning on Diet Pepsi? The scoop from PepsiCo is that it's an amino acid found in aspartame that some people are allergic too, thus the warning label. 1 out of 15,000 people are born unable to metabolize this amino acid and thus will become ill if they eat it; the other 14,999 won't notice a thing.

As for that "high fructose corn syrup &/or sugar" entry, well it appears that regular Coke in the US just uses the high fructose corn syrup. The sugar-based variety can be found in Canada, Mexico, Europe, and, during Passover, in some select areas of the US.

Interesting fact: New Coke, now called "Coke II" can still be bought in the Midwest (at least as of 1998, when this article was published.)

Sadly (for the sake of my long-held conspiracy theories), it looks like the idea that New Coke was introduced just to deflect attention from the sugar->corn syrup changeover doesn't have much to substantiate it. Most website just refer to it as a theory or rumor; a little more detail can be found at Snopes.com:

An interesting little claim sprang up in the wake of the introduction of Classic Coke, one having to do with its sweetener. People swore they detected a change in the flavor between Classic Coke and the original. This gave rise to the rumor that the product had been reformulated, dropping cane sugar in favor of high fructose corn syrup. Depending upon whom you listened to, either the demand for the return of original Coca-Cola afforded the company the opportunity to switch from cane sugar to corn syrup or the whole fiasco of taking original Coca-Cola off the shelves and reintroducing it three months later as Classic Coke was all a brilliant scheme to mask the change in sweetener. According to whispered wisdom, the company had hoped to slip the modification past consumers by having it take place during the original beverage's absence from the shelves. People would be so darned glad to have Classic Coke back that they wouldn't notice it didn't taste the same as original Coca-Cola. (Another twist to this rumor had it that New Coke had deliberately been formulated to taste awful in order to facilitate the switch — this supposedly gave Coca-Cola an excuse for pulling the original formula and then putting it back on the market after a brief absence, making it look all along as if they were simply responding to consumer demands.)

The change in sweetener wasn't anything that diabolical. Corn syrup was cheaper than cane sugar; that's what it came down to. In 1980, five years before the introduction of New Coke, half the cane sugar in Coca-Cola had been replaced with high fructose corn syrup. By six months prior to New Coke's knocking the original Coca-Cola off the shelves, there was no cane sugar in American Coca-Cola. Whether they knew it or not, what consumers were drinking then was 100% sweetened by high fructose corn syrup.

Tho things looked shaky back in the time of New Coke, Coca-Cola is currently winning the cola war all over the world with two exceptions: Scotland, where the locally produced Irn Bru reigns supreme, and Quebec, which has to be different and prefer Pepsi. Perhaps someday the pro-Palestinian competitor will pick up a few wins; if it were availabe in my barrio, i know i wouldn't be able to resist the slogan No more drinking stupid, drink with commitment!


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By Anonymous como, at 30 October, 2005 04:41  

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