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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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