Saturday, February 10, 2018

Product Placement: New Diet Coke Flavors, A Review

This review will be incomplete, since I didn't buy the new Ginger Lime Diet Coke, and they didn't have any Feisty Cherry. But, then again, since I haven't blogged in months, that hardly matters since nobody will read this! Anyway, what this is is a review of two new Diet Coke flavors I'd been eager to check out.

I'm a diet soda fan from way back. All the way back to when my youthful metabolism shifted into middle-age sluggishness, and I just couldn't drink sugary soda anymore. When I made that transition, I usually stuck to Diet Mountain Dew or other "sweeter" diet sodas, since the colas always tasted off to me. I guess since diet cola was invented so long ago--when sweeteners were more synthetic tasting--people got used to them just plain tasting different from sugary colas. With Diet Mountain Dew or Diet Orange Crush or Diet 7-Up, the difference was much less apparent. The flavor was close enough, sometimes enough to become a preferred taste to the original.

Not so with diet colas for me. I'd drink just about anything diet, but for me, Diet Coke took last place in line, followed shortly by Diet Rite Cola and Diet Pepsi. It took me years, and the invention of flavored diet colas (adding lime, vanilla, cherry) to get me used them. But they still were at the bottom of the list. Then came Coke Zero and Pepsi Max (Zero Sugar). They finally started to try to make a diet cola taste like the real thing. Now, Coke Zero Sugar is in my top three.

But, whenever a new flavor comes out, I do get excited to try it. I saw recently that Diet Coke was releasing all of these new flavors in fancy, skinny cans, and I was intrigued. I finally saw some on display in Kroger today, and my anticipation turned to skepticism. Yes, the new products were on sale, but come on, Coca-Cola! You're selling these in smaller eight-packs, and even on sale they're more expensive than the 12-packs of your regular sodas? Really?

Grumble, grumble. I picked up two anyway, of the three new flavors they had, not counting the little boxes of ordinary Diet Coke in the new packaging. Anyone who pays extra for the skinny can and same soda must be mental. I got them home, put some on ice and. . .

It's a mixed review for me. The Twisted Mango Diet Coke is delicious. Really, truly good. The mango flavor is seemingly genuine, very fruity. The cola tastes like cola, rather than a diet substitute. It is quite good, and would go in my "favorites" category if sold in ordinary packaging. The Zesty Blood Orange Diet Coke was just "okay" for me. Very much along the lines of Diet Coke with Lime, a decent but not terrific soda. The fruit flavor is more synthetic, or maybe just doesn't mix as well with a cola taste. I'd buy it, along with other flavors for variety's sake, but wouldn't put it at the top of my list.

But it really sticks in my craw that Coke is sticking it to us with the packaging and pricing. The skinny cans stand out, and the packaging is attractive. But unless they're just looking to be a niche product, these things are not going to catch on with ordinary soda drinkers. They'll be an occasional purchase, only if on sale. But before I finish my two (little) boxes, I intend to find out how well they mix with alcohol! I'm thinking the mango one would be great with rum.

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