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If artificial sweetener is truly a harmful substance, I'm in big, big trouble. They're using quite a variety of them lately, and producing a lot of very tasty diet sodas. And I'm addicted to diet soda.
I used to be a confirmed Pepsi drinker, full-sugar variety. But that was many years ago, when my metabolism allowed me to eat or drink most anything. Lucky for me, right about the time I had to start watching my weight, soda makers started making some more interesting diet versions. I used to really hate diet colas. I was so used to Pepsi, Coke and RC, and the diet versions didn't taste anything like them. Diet Sprite and Diet 7UP were ok, but kinda boring. Then came my favorite, Diet Mountain Dew.
I didn't know it at the time, but Mountain Dew has a horrible reputation in the Midwest as a hillbilly drink. And it isn't unfounded, if 20/20 is to be believed. But out here in Las Vegas, fortunately, what soda you drink doesn't define your personality. And if it did, mine would be all over the place. I have my favorites, but tend to buy what is on sale. Soda prices have gone way up for some reason, so it's good to be flexible. I'll even buy store brands, if they're tasty.
Today, I found that Coke products were on sale. So as I was digging through the stack to find Fresca Peach Citrus, I also found Tab! Tab and Fresca were both pioneers of diet sodas, dating back to the 60s. Fresca has been back on our shelves for years, with new flavors, but I haven't seen Tab in years.
I eventually warmed (cooled?) to diet colas, but they usually aren't my first choice. Even here, there are lots of options these days. My favorites are the ones with lime, or the "alternate" diet versions of Coke and Pepsi, with different sweeteners. Oh, and Tab is a pretty great diet cola too.
Anyway, for no other reason than it's a lazy weekend, here are my rankings of diet soda varieties. And remember, however "dangerous" artificial sweeteners are, I'll take the risk over high-fructose corn syrup any day.
Best: Diet Mountain Dew, Diet Mountain Dew Code Red, Fresca Peach Citrus, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Pepsi Lime, Diet Coke Lime, Diet Cherry 7UP, Diet Sierra Mist Ruby Splash, Tab.
Good: Diet Sierra Mist, Diet Vernors, Diet Orange Crush, Diet Sunkist, Diet 7UP, Diet Sprite, Fresca Sparkling Citrus, Fresca Black Cherry, Diet Citrus Drop (Kroger), Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, Pepsi One, Pepsi Max, Diet Rite (multiple flavors).
So-so: Any caffeine-free variety of diet cola, any Kroger (Big K) or Safeway (Vons) flavor. Cherry versions of Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke.
Yuck: Vanilla anything. Cherry/vanilla anything. Energy drinks, particularly RockStar (for its owner, Michael Weiner Savage). Store versions of Dr. Pepper.