This one might seem a little out of left field for my regular readers. After all, I’ve done movie reviews and book reviews, blog reviews and website reviews. But I haven’t done any soda reviews… until now.
First, a quick disclaimer: I am an unabashed Diet Coke fan & addict. Truly, it’s a sickness. I think I’ve been drinking Diet Coke for at least 20 years, and I truly prefer it to Coke, Pepsi, or pretty much any other soft drink. I appreciate its subtleties – the taste of can vs. bottle vs. fountain. Ice cold vs. cool vs. room temperature vs. warm (yes, there is a time & a place for warm Diet Coke. Almost supernaturally, Diet Coke can hold its fizz for hours and temperatures that render most other soft drinks into warm syrup.)
So, Coca Cola has gone a product extension tear lately, and when I go to DietCoke.com, I find no less than seven varieties of Diet Coke on the market:
- Diet Coke
- Caffeine-Free Diet Coke
- Diet Coke with Splenda
- Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke
- Diet Coke with Lime
- Diet Cherry Coke
- Diet Coke Plus
(Note that Coke Zero is not included, since that’s not under the Diet Coke sub-brand)
Now, let’s talk Diet Coke Plus.
My wife picked up a 12-pack of the new Diet Coke Plus this week, so I’ve tried it out. If you are not familiar with the new drink, the idea is to take the Diet Coke and make it healthier by adding vitamins & minerals. As noted in Carbwire:
According to the nutritional label, Diet Coke Plus includes 25% of the recommended daily allowance of niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 as well as 15% of the RDA for magnesium and zinc in each 12-ounce serving. It is sweetened with an aspartame/ACE-K blend that has become the industry norm for just about every diet drink nowadays.
Low-carb blogs have been talking about this for a while… check out this one, for example.
Anyway, fundamentally, if you are going to drink Diet Coke anyway, it might as well have something nutritional added to it. But how does it taste?
Answer: On a scale from 1 being terrible (Diet Pepsi) and 10 being terrific (Diet Coke), I give it a 7. It’s OK, but it’s not Diet Coke.
The problem is their move to sweeten the drink with an Ace-K & Nutrasweet blend. Ace-K is the sweetener that debuted with Pepsi One, and for some reason, it seems like most soft drink companies have decided that this is a superior sweetner. Not in my book.
One of the great things about Diet Coke is that they specifically do not try to make it as sweet as normal soda, but with artificial sweetener. Instead, they just dial down the sweetness altogether.
Diet Coke Plus tastes like Pepsi One. Not terrible, but I’m not sure the relatively tepid health benefits of adding a B-vitamin complex, magnesium and zinc is worth it.
Anyway, it’s worth trying.
Since I’m on the subject, I’ll just take a moment to post a desperate plea to the Coca-Cola Company to re-instate Diet Vanilla Coke as a shipping product. This was the single best product extension ever, and I genuinely preferred it to Diet Coke. (Yes, this means on my scale, it went to 11.) It never got significant distribution, however, and they cancelled it after only a couple years on the market. Instead, we now have to live with Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, which is OK (It’s an 8 on my scale), but just not the same.
Here’s to you, Diet Vanilla Coke:
Here is my complete grading scale, for all versions of Diet Coke, and a few related drinks:
- Diet Coke (10)
- Diet Pepsi (1)
- Caffeine-Free Diet Coke (4)
- Diet Coke with Splenda (7)
- Diet Coke with Lime (6)
- Diet Coke with Lemon, discontinued (3)
- Diet Coke Plus (7)
- Coke Zero (7)
- Diet Cherry Coke (5)
- Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke (8)
- Diet Vanilla Coke, discontinued (11)