Originally published 10 July 2008.
I’ve finally come to terms with Aspartame. All growing up, it seemed like a scary chemical where no scary chemical need be. I was no sugar junkie but I was, ahem, a kid. Sugar-phobic kids are hard to come by.
When Baskin-Robbins introduced a sugar-free cone to stick under a ball of cold sugar and saturated fats, it struck me as comical. I think the main reason it struck me as comical is that it is comical. Terribly so. I’m still of the opinion that the best way to decrease your Baskin-Robbins sugar intake is never to go to Baskin-Robbins, but I do acknowledge that in other situations, lowering your sugar intake can only be a good thing.
So Diet Coke it is. I’m not a big fan of Coke all told, actually (it’s the colour). From an all-round perspective of ‘healthiness’ (a/k/a making you feel good about what you consume), Coke regardless of sweetening method is still down at the bottom of the list near bongwater and dish detergent. Yet merely in regards to caloric intake and sugar, a glass of Diet Coke actually towers above mainstays like apple juice and a tall glass of blue-tinted milk. Okay, ‘towers above’ is completely the wrong phrase. But oh well.
I seem to remember Diet Coke being disgusting when I was a kid. Perhaps that’s because (a) I misremember, (b) it was different then than it is now, (c) I was actually drinking bongwater (and/or “Tab”, whatever the hell that is). Because the simple fact is that, prejudices aside, Diet Coke is precisely as foul as its red-canistered sugary twin.
But prejudices are what it’s all about (apparently), since somebody at Coca-Cola Ltd. (or whatever the hell the mothership in Atlanta calls itself) has decided, apparently quite successfully, that Diet Coke is too girly a kind of diet Coke. Apparently, guys don’t drink Diet Coke because its can is grey and it doesn’t feature a number in its name.
Enter Coca-Cola Zero, the ‘macho’ non-caloric Coke, which is completely different from Diet Coke, because its can is black and it doesn’t have that nasty four-lettered word in its name (hands up everybody who, in history class, thought “Diet of Worms” was the coolest name possible). Instead, it has a four letter word that means ‘nothingness’ and is pronounced “Jerro” by Korean people. This is why Korean people are cool.
But this is not why Coca-Cola Inc., or whatever they are, is cool. They are not. For some reason, apparently their ruse worked, as millions of people flocked to prove their masculinity by drinking Aspartame from a black can. So today, you can choose two completely identical products that differ only by the colour of their can. Coca-Cola GmBH are, of course, marketing geniuses. Because the rest of the world are total schmucks.