Looking for a drink with a Canadian twist to mark your Canada Day festivities? The Coca-Cola people would no doubt love it if you tried their new British Columbia Raspberry Coca-Cola, which is made with natural raspberry flavours and cane sugar. Think of it as a craft soda from the world’s largest soft-drink behemoth.
The marketing copy (plucked from the package) is curious, so I’ll quote it in full:
“Over 130 years ago, Dr. John Pemberton perfected the very first Coca-Cola. Soon after, soda shops began adding tasty local flavours. This inspired us to source a local flavour of our own: using fresh raspberries from the agricultural heartland of British Columbia. Thanks to ideal growing conditions, this raspberry flavour puts a delicious twist on a timeless taste.”
See, to a Western Canadian, I find it fascinating that there’s a belief that B.C. is Canada’s singular raspberry-growing paradise. I love B.C., but I consider blackberries to be the true B.C. specialty. Raspberries, on the other hand, are far more commonplace in spots like Alberta, where raspberry U-Pick farms are common, and a small backyard patch of raspberry bushes in Edmonton can yield huge quantities of ripe, exquisite fruit every year.
Also interesting is this company page lauding the U.S. launch of Coca-Cola California Raspberry in 2018, also sold in glass bottles and pitched to consumers as a craft soda. That kind of makes the B.C.-as-raspberry-heartland thing seem kind of hollow, doesn’t it?
Crafty marketing? Soda story goes …
That Coca-Cola would enter the craft soda category makes perfect sense. The public has been growing increasingly sceptical of sugary soft drinks (a.k.a. pop or soda, depending on where you live), and the media has been filled with stories about the backlash against sugar. While many have reduced their soft drink consumption as the science around sugar becomes clearer, there must be a large market of folks who love the taste of Coke, and see nothing wrong with savouring it from time to time. You know, like how soft drinks used to be a special treat instead of an add-on to every lunch or supper, a companion on the commute, or a quick break in the middle of the workday.
The idea with this B.C. Raspberry Coke, I’d venture, is to recapture some of the consumers who abandoned their daily pop habit but who still like the taste of Coca-Cola – those who can still see the worth of enjoying a bottle as an occasional indulgence.
So, how does it taste?
It’s syrupy sweet, with a thick, slippery feeling in the mouth. Drinking it from the bottle (as one does when presented with a glass bottle of Coke), you’ll likely lose some of the aroma as you sip, but the raspberry tastes natural and stands out in the mix with the Coke. Can I taste the terroir of the B.C. raspberries? Of course not. That’s just silly. But it’s a nice combination, and longstanding fans of Coca-Cola should find something to their liking here. While I still prefer the taste of regular Coca-Cola, this version is plenty nice.
Price: $5.99 for a four-pack of 355 mL glass bottles at Save-On Foods in Edmonton.
Value for Money: Fine, I guess? But god, those glass bottles are worth the premium.
Availability: I’ve only seen them in grocery stores so far. Not sure if singles are available in convenience stores, or if they’re only sold in four-packs.
Nutrition: 140 calories per 355 mL bottle. It’s sugar water. Govern yourself accordingly.
Verdict: A nice treat in a lovely glass package.