I have written about my hatred for water and love for soda and go-to guy in the soda category is Coke Zero. When I was a kid, my motto was the sweeter the better – cream soda, Dr. Pepper, Pop Rouge – get that sweet sugar in my mouth, which was odd since that was the only real area of my life where I craved sugar. When the expected happened because of a diet rich in sugar, salt, grease and white flour, I toned down my desires and soda was not spared. For better or for worse, it was the dawning of the Age of Tab and I partook with glee. Well, as much glee as one could have drinking Tab. The bottle was nice – bumpy with yellow decorations – but the flavor made your taste buds wonder if the end was near. It was better cold, but I wasn’t one to quibble when I needed my soda fix. Since I lived in my bedroom and didn’t get my own mini-fridge until around 8th grade, bottles of soda just sat on the floor waiting for me to drain the life out of them.

There is really no way I can express the anticipation I felt when it was announced that a new product was soon to hit the shelves – Diet Coke. I loved Coca Cola; I am not a Pepsi girl. The mere thought of Diet Coke was enough to give me goosebumps. And it was…ok. Far better than Tab, but in no way tasted like standard Coke. Once Diet Coke hit the market, other diet versions of popular sodas began to fill supermarket shelves and I found lovely diet Dr. Pepper, diet Sprite, diet cream soda… some were actually pretty good (diet Dr. Pepper comes to mind – still love that stuff), but the flavors were so… specialty. The odd thing about Coke and Diet Coke was that the flavor didn’t have a stand-out, unique profile. They were oddly generic and I liked that. It didn’t overpower the tongue, went well with everything I ate… On my floor and, later in my mini -fridge that looked like an old-timey safe, went Diet Coke. And that was my drink for years. Cans or bottles, straight or mixed with rum… if liquid was being poured down my throat, there was a 95% chance it was Diet Coke.

Then, a new rumbling was heard on the horizon, which after the laughable failure of New Coke, amazed and astounded me. A new addition to Coke’s diet line. Coke Zero… designed to have a flavor closer to that of regular Coke, but still lacking those pesky calories. And the label was killer… black and red – come on, that’s stylin’. I waited very impatiently for it to hit my stores. When the product finally landed, I snatched it up. Some 2-liter bottles and one frosty drink-me-now-sized bottle out of the cooler at the front of the store. And it was good. Good. So much better than Diet Coke. Maybe a little more acidy zing, a little less aspartame flavor… I don’t know. All I do know is that after the first sip, I never bought another bottle or can of Diet Coke unless it was absolutely the only other 0-calorie beverage offered to me.

Oddly, I never liked any variation of Diet Coke very much – vanilla, cherry, lime – and don’t like those versions of Coke Zero either. I want to… I want very much to like Coke Zero vanilla, for instance, but it ain’t happening. Something about the flavorings taste wildly chemical to me and if I want to add a touch of something to my soda, I’ll use a sugar-free coffee syrup or appropriately flavored rum or vodka. Coke Zero and vanilla vodka, with maybe a tiny splash of vanilla syrup added in… heaven.

Yes, I’m drinking Coke Zero right now. In glass, with ice. And, I’ll refill my portion as soon as I hit “Publish” over there on the sidebar of this Add New Post window. And I will be happy…

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