Kenji Lopez-Alt answers another food question for us. This time, does Mexican Coke, the one in a glass bottle, taste better. What does he decide? You’ll have to read to find out.
More than once in the past, I’ve discovered that the brain has a powerful effect on the taste buds. Free-range eggs taste better? Nope. Darker colored eggs taste better. Is New York pizza better when made with New York tap water? Nope. At least my panel of experts couldn’t tell the difference. I’ve done tests where I’ve fed an entire room full of people two batches of identical carrots, labeling one as organic and the other as conventional. Unsurprisingly, they unanimously pick the carrots labeled organic as superior in flavor every single time, even when they are two halves of the same carrot.
Soda has been in the news lately, what with the Mayor of New York hoping to ban the sale of sodas over 16 ounces, but not in grocery stores andâ€¦ Well, it’s complicated. I like a Coke as much as anyone, but I know it’s pretty awful for me and I know it’s used to clean toilets and truck parts. Who wants to drink a ton of truck part cleaner? Since soda happens to be super profitable, businesses like McDonald’s (“@MikeBloomberg We trust our customers to make the choices that are best for them.”) and Coca Cola (“Unlike @MikeBloomberg, @CocaColaCo thinks #NewYorkers can make their own choices about what they drink. #NYC deserves better. ^AB”) aren’t super enthusiastic about the bill passing (and what it may portend for similar measures across the country). The messaging in these Tweets, that our customers are smarter than the big bad government, is exactly what you would have gotten from the Marlboro and Lucky Strike Twitter accounts in the 60s. I’m not sure why I would expect more from either a fast food company or a soda company.
Anyway, I thought two recent articles related to Coca Cola were interesting.
This interview with a Coca-Cola’s president of sparkling beverages in North America Katie Bayne, is hilarious and full of spin.
Q: But critics call soft drinks “empty” calories.
A: A calorie is a calorie. What our drinks offer is hydration. That’s essential to the human body. We offer great taste and benefits whether it’s an uplift or carbohydrates or energy. We don’t believe in empty calories. We believe in hydration.
Q: What do you drink daily?
A: I might have a mini Diet Coke while cooking breakfast for my family. After the kids leave for school, I go for a run and then have a Powerade Zero. At work I may have a Diet Coke in the morning and in the afternoon, Gold Peak Tea. In the middle of the afternoon, I may have an 8-ounce Coke. I’d rather have that than a candy bar or cookie for a pick-me-up.
This interview via @spavis who said, “There exist no humans who drink both coke AND diet coke on a daily basis. That’s like matter and antimatter.”
In another article, former Coca Cola marketing executive Todd Putman is having something of a Don Draper / Lucky Strike moment and has come out swinging against Coke’s new marketing campaign.
For all the range and reach of Cokeâ€™s marketing operation, Putman said he quickly learned it was built around one goal: per capita consumption. “How can we drive more ounces into more bodies more often?” The term of art among company executives was one Putman had never heard before: “share of stomach.” “It was a mind-bending paradigm shift for me. We werenâ€™t trying to get share of market. We weren’t about trying to beat Pepsi or Mountain Dew. We were about trying to beat everything.” Putman embraced the challenge with gusto. In the interview, he recalled giving a presentation in which he showed a chart illustrating how consumption of milk had dropped over time while consumption of a sugary soda â€” he can no longer remember which product â€” had risen. When he pointed to the place where the two lines crossed â€” the moment in which soda surpassed milk â€” Putman remembers swelling with pride.
ONE OF THESE PEOPLE IS LYING!
The recipe for Coca-Cola is a long held secret, but it seems like This American Life discovered it. Well now.
Companies like Pepsi have deduced the general ingredients on their own, none have unlocked the “Merchandise 7X flavoring” that gives Coke its unique taste and bubbly burn.
The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
Alcohol: 8 oz
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops
Uh, oh. Mexico? We have a problem.
The press release (full PDF here) points out one other finding. You know how everyone thinks Mexican Coca-Cola is so much more delicious than American Coke because it is made with table sugar (sucrose), not HFCS? Oops again. The investigators could not find any sucrose in the Coke, but did find plenty of glucose and fructose. This suggests that Mexican Coke is also made with HFCS (or it could also mean that the sucrose had been split into its constituent glucose and fructose).