real thing

coke taste test.JPG
blind tasting: HFCS Coca-Cola and kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola

During Passover, many markets stock a quantity of Coca-Cola suitable for Passover consumption. This means no corn, which means no HFCS; this batch of Coke is made with sugar! Sugar sugar sugar!

The Fella crooked an eyebrow at my excitement as I extolled the virtues of sugar sugar sugar cola. After some prompting, he admitted his skepticism that I could discern any difference, so I proposed a taste test.


We bought two 2-liter bottles of Coke, one regular Coke with high-fructose corn syrup, and one kosher-for-Passover Coke from the seasonal aisle of Passover goods. We stored both together in the fridge, to be sure they’d be at the same temperature.

The Fella poured the first round, served iceless in identical glasses, while I waited in the other room. After tasting and re-tasting, I held up the right-hand glass and declared, “This is sugar.”

“You’re right.”

“I know.” It really was quite clear: I found both drinks pleasant, but it’s easy to distinguish between them.
Then I poured a round for The Fella. He rapidly came to a conclusion. “I like this one better. Which one is it?” He preferred the HFCS Coke. Though I didn’t, I can see why one would. For one thing, the regular Coke was fizzier, though I don’t know whether that’s a question of chemistry, distribution, shelf life, or some other variable.
HFCS Coke has a high, flat flavor, intensely sweet if a little bland. Directly compared to the Passover Coke, the HFCS Coke reminds me of Pepsi (and made me remember the old-style commercial taste tests from my childhood). The Passover Coke was rounder, deeper, with a faint smokey undercurrent. It reminded me ever so slightly of drinking whiskey.

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7 thoughts on “real thing

  1. Sugar, sugar, sugar! I’m with you. I go to Dublin, TX to buy one Dr. Pepper made with real sugar–all the time. It’s on my way to the Sitton Family Reunion.

  2. I would love any kind of Dr Pepper right now, sugar or syrup, but it’s a two hour drive to find one. Sigh. Drinking my no sugar Coke Zero.

  3. Jagaosaurus, check whether your local grocery has a Passover section where they stock matzoh and Passover wines and other chometz- and kitniyot-free goods. In my store, it’s in the seasonal aisle, where they have candy canes in December and Valentine’s candy in February, which places it right across from the Easter candy and baskets.
    If there’s no such section, or if there’s no Coke there, look for yellow-capped bottles (2-liter only, as far as I know) in the soda aisle; apparently lots of stores shelve it with the regular Coca-Cola, and expect customers in the know to distinguish it by sight. Passover Coke will have small, subtle Hebrew lettering, either on the label or the cap.
    I’ve pondered the ethical implications of drinking up (the presumably limited quantities of) soda intended to satisfy religious restrictions, and I’ve decided that it’s not problematic. For one thing, because it’s often marketed in the soda aisle with nothing to distinguish it but the yellow cap and discreet lettering (so discreet that I never noticed until tonight), no doubt lots of customers are unknowingly buying Passover Coke. One hopes that Coke accounts for this unintentional consumption when they calculate the demand for the product.

  4. On my first visit to see my sister in San Jose, CA, I got to try “Mexican Coke”, which uses sugar instead of HFCS. The difference I noticed (and appreciated) was the lack of aftertaste. HFCS Coke can destroy your mouth for the rest of the day.
    Jeremy was reading last night that Pepsi is creating a version of their product sweetened with sugar. It may or may not be called “Pepsi Natural” – can’t remember. At any rate, I’m very excited to try it.
    Hooray for Passover-inspired cola experimentation!

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