When Coca-Cola introduced Coke Zero back in 2005, they may not have anticipated the pent-up demand for a no-calorie product that tasted like regular Coca-Cola instead of Diet Coke, which, to be charitable, tastes like stale metallic ass.
While Coke Zero has taken off, Diet Coke has the feeling of a brand that has been supplanted by a better product by the same company, but that stubbornly refuses to die. To help salvage the moribund brand, Coca-Cola has introduced a handful of flavoured Diet Coke brand extensions. The first wave of these included things like Ginger Lime, Zesty Blood Orange, Feisty Cherry and Twisted Mango, which, being twisted, presumably gets off on torturing small bugs with a magnifying glass.
After the deluge, a couple of new flavours popped up, so I finally got around to sampling them and recording my experience here. I can’t say I had high hopes, as I’ve always disliked Diet Coke. What I’m hoping for here, and what I’m assuming Coca-Cola is going for, is an intriguing flavour to mask the longstanding awfulness of Diet Coke.
Blueberry Acai: Blueberry cola with the obvious sweetener twang, especially on the finish. The added flavouring works well at covering up parts of the Diet Coke base, though it still suffers by association. Something about this reminds me of both Crystal Pepsi and that strange Pepsi Blue experiment back in the early 2000s, but with a harsh metallic bite that ruins everything. Why waste this flavour on Diet Coke? With a Coke Zero base, this could actually be OK.
Strawberry Guava: Strawberry is a common flavour in the candy and confection world, but guava isn’t exactly a staple in Canada. I love strawberries and I love guava juice, so this should be a winner, right? The strawberry is much more present than the blueberry in the other flavour tested here. It’s unmistakably strawberry, and yes, there’s a bit of guava in there that only picks up as you swallow it. It reminds me of strawberry chewing gum, which isn’t a bad thing. The narsty Diet Coke flavour ruins it, though.
Of the two, the blueberry acai flavouring is the more interesting, but the strawberry guava is a better pairing with the existing Diet Coke flavour. If I had to buy one again, I’d pick the strawberry guava. But that’s mostly because the flavour is stronger and it masks the Diet Coke a bit more.
Will they stand the test of time or be promptly discarded, like so many other brand extensions? That’s up to you, I guess. Every dollar is a vote.
Price: $1.39 per 310 mL can at 7-Eleven in Edmonton.
Value for Money: Meh. Single cans are a bit smaller than the standard 355 mL, and I’ve seen eight-can packages selling for the same price as 12-packs of Coca-Cola Classic and Coke Zero. And that’s not good. Coke C2 tried that. Remember Coke C2? You don’t? Well, that’s because it promptly died.
Availability: Because there are so many different flavours, not all stores stock them all. The 7-Eleven is usually a good bet for finding some, but I’ve yet to see a variant Diet Coke in a vending machine.
Nutrition: 0 calories per 310 mL. It’s a diet cola, after all.
Verdict: No matter how much you gussy it up, ass still tastes like ass.