Review of Diet Coke (from the archives)
August 13, 2010
Another post from the archives, to give you something to do this weekend.
I picked this one because I’ve been taking some heat for my heavy drinking lately. I’m not backing down.
Review of Diet Coke
Sometimes I read stuff, and all the time I’m reading it, I’m thinking “jeez, just get to the point already!” You, dear reader, may be at that point already in this review. So I’ll help you out: I love Diet Coke. LOVE IT! I drink Diet Coke a lot. As in, I average about 100 ounces of Diet Coke a day.
I have tried to kick the Diet Coke habit a few times. Because I spend roughly the GDP of Switzerland on Diet Coke every year. The time I went the longest, maybe a month, I was testing out the theory that Diet Coke (and carbonation in general) reduces aerobic capacity. I had a big long distance mountain bike race coming up, and wanted every edge I could get.
Unfortunately, when I’m off the juice, I get a bit PMSy. Not on my period, which I’ve been instructed is not actually a problem (except for the mess), but PMSy, which I guess is more of a problem on account of it makes me act like a rabid ape. Which isn’t what I’m going for.
Anyway. The point is, I love the juice. But since the juice was launched in 1982, our friends at the Coca Cola Company have introduced some variations. In ’83 they introduced the Caffeine Free version, and also the international version of Diet Coke known as Coca-Cola Light. In ’86 we got Diet Cherry Coke. We waited until 2001 for the next iteration, Diet Coke with Lemon. More on this below. In 2002 we got Diet Vanilla Coke, added Lime in 2004, Splenda in 2005, and finally, Black Cherry Vanilla in 2006.
So, to begin, let’s just give Diet Coke in general, regardless of pitfalls or missteps, a solid 10.9 out of 11. The Silver Bullet (what, there’s another Silver Bullet? I don’t care, DC is my Silver Bullet) is that good, and you shouldn’t have to read all the way to the bottom to get to the score. So Brad, you can stop reading now.
However, we really need to take them one at a time. Let’s begin.
The standard, the big fella, the drink by which we measure other drinks.
I never drank from the teat of the Big Silver Can growing up, and by the time I went to college, I was a heavy Mountain Dew drinker. But when I met Kim, we found it a hassle to get multiple drinks (we’ve since found new ways to hassle ourselves with mixes and additives, and if you’re a true connoisseur, you know what I’m taking about), so I just made the switch. And I never looked back. Except for the 18 times I tried to quit. Then I looked back longingly. Cuz, Diet Coke, and this is important, Diet Coke is better than almost anything in the whole world. Someday I’ll come up with a list. But not this day.
Caffeine Free Diet Coke
Introduced a year after the original, I’ve never really wrapped my arms around this product. I live in Utah, and went to school at BYU, so yes, I’ve been exposed to it plenty. But mostly I’m just plain indifferent to it. Kim drinks it so she can sleep at night. Me, I get up in the night and drink the regular stuff and go back to bed. I guess the gold can is good for the kids. You know, “sure, have some Diet Coke, but only the de-caff, so nobody calls Family Services.”
I had no idea this even existed until about 8 years ago, when we took our first ski trip to Italy. On the plane, when we asked for Diet Coke, they would bring us this stuff that sure looked like Diet Coke, but tasted more like regular Coke. Sure, it’ll do in a pinch, but it better be quite a pinch. Like traveling or living in Europe kind of pinch.
Diet Cherry Coke
Launched in 1986. I dunno, I have really nothing to say about this. Never drank it, not interested, whatever. Although, it’s part of the Diet Coke family. If I were at someone’s house, playing cards or something, and this is what they had, I’d certainly drink it. I mean, if they offer the Diet Pepsi, I’ll take water. If they offer Diet Cherry Coke, I’m drinking it. [update—I love Diet Cherry Coke now.]
Diet Coke with Lemon
Seriously? It took them 15 years to come up with this @#!*% ? 15 YEARS?! Tell you what, if I’m feeling particularly dusty in my digestive track, and could use a good cleaning, I’ll ask for this Lemon Pledge knock-off. Until then, I’ll just stick with actual Lemon Pledge. Eww. In fact, the Diet Coke with Lemon gets an honorary 1 out of 100. Yes, it’s that bad. It’s like Rocky VI; did we need this? Did we deserve this? Can I get an Amen from the congregation? I’m getting angry just thinking about it.
Diet Vanilla Coke
Answering a long-standing dream of mine, my friends in Atlanta came out with Diet Vanilla Coke in 2002. Unfortunately, it sucks. I’ve been adding a squirt of vanilla to my Diet Coke fountain drinks since convenience stores started offering the flavor shots. Pure heaven. This over-sweet, underwhelming attempt to capture that flavor is an abject flop. I would rather drink diet pepsi with vanilla. Which doesn’t suck, actually, but is a little like sleeping with the enemy.
Diet Coke with Lime
I don’t know what happened between 2002 and 2004 at the Coca Cola think tank, but apparently the right person died, because there’s no way the same dipweed who came up with the crap that is Diet Coke with Lemon and the mess that is Diet Vanilla Coke also invented the sublime flavor bouquet that is Diet Coke with Lime. The only combo that gets me more excited than Diet Coke with Lime, is a 44oz fountain drink, straight up Diet Coke, with a squirt of Vanilla. Somebody in Georgia deserves a promotion. And a big hug. And a night with an expensive hooker. I could go on. I’m just really, really grateful.
Diet Coke sweetened with SPLENDA Brand Sweetener
I’m just going to have to pretend that this travesty never even happened, much like Michael Jordan never played for the Washington Wizards. Never happened. How, HOW can the same company that came up with the immortal phrase “Just For The Taste Of It!” now come up with the apparently patented-as-a-group-of-words phrase “Diet Coke Sweetened with SPLENDA (the word so happy you have to use all caps to spell it) Brand Sweetener?” Do you not get it, Coca Cola Company? Seriously? Here, let me remind you: I drink Diet Coke JUST FOR THE TASTE OF IT! Don’t make it taste like regular coke. If I wanted regular coke, I would buy regular coke. But I don’t. Don’t make me come down there.
Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke
Whew, they put the guy who came up with Diet Coke with Lime back in charge. This complicated confection is the bomb. I don’t think I could drink it all the time, but when I’m having folks over for a good ole Utah time, involving backyard volleyball, board games, and maybe a little innocent flirting, from now on, I’m buying two twelve packs, one Diet Coke with Lime, one Diet Black Cherry Vanilla coke. That’s right, less than a year on the market, and already in the starting rotation. Congratulations. [update—I can’t find this anywhere anymore. I’m starting a petition—big corporations respond well to those.]
I haven’t delved into the whole fountain drinks vs bottled or cans debate, or whether you should drink from the can, or pour it into a glass with ice, and I don’t really intend to. That would be picking at nits. Because the bottom line is, Diet Coke is good. So good it should have its own star on Hollywood Boulevard. So good, they should name a planet after it. In fact, Diet Coke is so good, it doesn’t suck. Which is really the best thing you can say about pretty much anything. Almost. A solid 10.9 out of 11 for Diet Coke. In fact, forget that, I’m making an executive decision here: Diet Coke gets 12 out of 11. Just for the taste of it.