I wrote a little last week about a product called Coca-Cola Zero Sugar replacing Coke Zero, and the resulting anxiety in the existing drink’s fan base (and how I could relate to it).
The way Coca-Cola was talking about it—shoot, even the greatly increased red in the graphics—had me thinking there might be something genuinely notable here.
After sampling the new product extensively, that is not my opinion. In fact, for fans of existing Coke Zero, we may have in Coke Zero Sugar the ultimate insult—a product that is only incrementally changed from the one it replaces. I think you could have handed this to me blind and I’d have thought it was Coke Zero.
The artificiality in the taste of Coke Zero has always been rather distinctive to me. Most diet soft drinks have aftertastes. Coke Zero has kind of a synthetic, maybe vaguely industrial “middle” taste—a taste for which I’ve never found a close analog in any other drink. I still perceive that same thing in Coke Zero Sugar, though it may be a little diminished.
Other than that, it may be a little less sweet. That’s it. The new product still uses both aspartame and acesulfame potassium (Ace K). It pours and sips like Coke Zero.
It is still considerably better than Diet Coke, though that’s a low bar. It mixes with liquor about as well as the product it replaces, which is to say better than most diet colas (but Diet Rite is still king here). I rate it about where I rate the outgoing product, with one point deducted for making us think, if only for a moment, that there may actually be a revolution here.