Not Martha

coca-cola classique

I’ve made a big deal here before about Canadian Coca-cola tasting better because they make it with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. I’ve also mentioned the Kosher Coca-cola that is available this time of year, identifiable by a yellow cap, which is also made with sugar. See also: Mexican Coke. But every once in a while I read somebody who says they cannot taste the difference. We had a single can of Canadian Coca-cola left in the fridge so we decided to investigate.

I bought a 2-liter bottle of Kosher Coca-cola (I have never seen it in a smaller container) and a small bottle of regular Coca-cola. I realize that testing from all the same size of containers would have made for more fair comparisons but since all I had was a can of Canadian Coke and all I could find in the Kosher variety was 2-liter it was already a lost cause. I bought a small bottle of regular Coke since I didn’t want that much around. I left them in the same part of the fridge for a few days so they would all be at the same temperature. We sipped them out of small, stemless flutes.

Our verdict wasn’t surprising, but it was interesting to conduct the test. I couldn’t detect much of a difference in flavor between the three, but the difference in texture was easy to pick out. The Canadian Coke from a can was sharp and sweet, the Kosher Coke was diluted and maybe a little flat, very probably because it came from a big bottle. The regular Coke from the smaller bottle had the same flavor but was thick and sweeter. Scott said it had almost a honeyish consistency, that it was stickier and too sweet. The tongue coating and aftertaste in Coke made with high fructose corn syrup is what made me stop drinking it a long time ago, and after savoring our cans of Canadian Coke I can say that doesn’t happen with Coke made with sugar.

So, Canada, you win again. Please keep up the good work! update: It’s been confirmed, Canadian Coke does contain HFCS, so viva la Mexican Coca-cola!

· comments [34] · 04-3-2007 · categories:food ·

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Joel // Apr 3, 2007 at 6:56 am

    oh the things we take for granted up here in the great white north!

  • 2 splatgirl // Apr 3, 2007 at 7:27 am

    I once spent ten days riding a motorcycle all over Spain. Did you know that Diet Coke, aka Coca Cola Light, doesn’t exist there unless you’re in a big city? Major problem for moi, the former insane Diet Coke junkie. The only reason I didn’t completely lose my mind without it was because the regular Coke (with sugar) tasted so darn good. Yay for the sanity of Europe (and Canada) for not going corn syrup.

  • 3 Sarah // Apr 3, 2007 at 7:47 am

    Where, oh where, did you find Passover Coke? You’re in Seattle too, right? Am I just blind lately?

  • 4 megan // Apr 3, 2007 at 7:52 am

    Sarah – I bought it at a Safeway, it was in the 2-liters in the regular soda aisle. Look for the yellow caps and read the ingredients (it will say sucrose). Try a QFC as well, they usually have a good selection of Kosher foods.

  • 5 Renee // Apr 3, 2007 at 8:18 am

    That is so funny I had no idea that you guys had the good coke, I go to Mexico every year and I try and stock up on it because hmm that is so much better than the high frutose stuff I can get in MN, but Canada is so much closer than Mexico, Hmm I might need to make a trip soon.

  • 6 Tara // Apr 3, 2007 at 9:38 am

    If you think the Coke is shocking you should post on the difference in Cider.
    Canadian alcohol tends to have a higher alcohol content.
    Also shocking, the fast food chains all taste totally different in the Us vs. Canada, even Subway.

  • 7 megan // Apr 3, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Oh, do you have real pressed cider? Not the pasturized stuff that is little more than juice. That is worth planning a trip to aquire in the Autumn.

  • 8 Tina // Apr 3, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. My husband has been going insane trying to find the ‘good coke’ since we found out about Kosher Coke. Thank you for the QFC and Safeway tip. I think he’s even planning a future trip to Canada. Yeah, now I might be able to convince him to go to Vancouver.

  • 9 Glenn // Apr 3, 2007 at 11:22 am

    While I don’t disagree that Canadian coke may taste different, I’m not sure it is because of sugar versus HFCS. Looking at a can (I’m in Toronto BTW) the ingredient is listed as “sugar/glucose-fructose” which accoring to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency means “sugar or glucose-fructose, singly or in combination” So it could be sugar, or it could be glucose-fructose, or a mix. In fact, it might be slightly different from different bottling facilities depending on the relative cost of sugar versus glucose-fructose in the area.

  • 10 Jackie // Apr 3, 2007 at 11:46 am

    How funny. Quite a few Mexican restaurants here (I’m in AZ) serve “Mexican Coke” and it does taste different.

    When I was in China, they used sugar instead of Corn Syrup too. I didn’t care for Coke Light when I was in China.

    Now I need to run out and find Kosher Coke.

  • 11 Rita // Apr 3, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I’ll be on the lookout for good Mexican or Canadian Coke!

    BTW, where did you get those stemless flutes? The ones that I have seen don’t seem to bell out at the bottom a lot more than the one in your photograph. Yours look much more modern and versatile.

  • 12 megan // Apr 3, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Glenn – The can I have says “sugar/glucose-fructose” as well. I still like it better because it doesn’t have that awful tongue coating aftertaste, but I’ll look into it more when I have a chance. Thanks for the note.

    Rita – The flutes were bought at Target last year, they don’t carry them anymore. While they are fun they are terribly delicate, they tip over and break too easily.

  • 13 Vali // Apr 3, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    What a cool experiment!Wish I had some Canadian Coke…

  • 14 PurrrL // Apr 3, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    I remember getting that “tongue coating” from Coke back in my youth, and in an odd reversal, I never liked Coke as a kid or teen, but find it very easy to drink these days. Perhaps our Coke was made with corn syrup before, too?

    On another note, I recently had my first Boylan’s Black Cherry Soda (cane sugar sweetened), and man is that stuff tasty! Nice and fruity, not sickeningly sweet, and only mildly carbonated which is just the way I like my sodas!

  • 15 Sherah // Apr 3, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    I have been a huge fan of Mexican coke for years. I knew there was a difference but didn’t know what it was. I am living in Israel now, so all I know here is kosher coke, which I also prefer to American coke. American coke is way too sweet!!!

  • 16 haya // Apr 4, 2007 at 6:58 am

    this has nothing to do with coke but is filled with excitement because you were mentioned in today’s epi-log at epicurious.com!!

  • 17 kns // Apr 4, 2007 at 9:43 am

    My conspiracy theory is that the whole “New Coke” fiasco of years back was just a ploy to take the original Coke containing sugar off the market and replace it with the much cheaper corn syrup (Coke Classic). They never wanted anyone to actually like New Coke, but be so disgusted with it that the newly corn syrup-ed Coke Classic would be welcomed without a fuss.

  • 18 Jackie // Apr 4, 2007 at 9:45 am

    If you are in Arizona and they have Mexican Coke, make sure they give it to you in a bottle or a can, and you pour it in the glass yourself. The fountain stuff is still U.S. coke with corn syrup.

  • 19 Lisa // Apr 4, 2007 at 10:18 am

    I did *not* know that about Canadian Coke! Thanks for the info :) Dh goes to Canada on business every few weeks (we live in Michigan, so it’s close) and I may just have him bring me some back to see if I notice the difference!

  • 20 Irene // Apr 4, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    I turned the corner in the Uvillage QFC after searching for days for passover coke and lo! There was a huge display of yellow capped coke a cola. I literally ran down the aisle and jumped up and down. My boyfriend said he has never seen me more excited and that he felt incompetent because of it.

  • 21 Brandon // Apr 6, 2007 at 5:36 am

    What’s up with Canada?

  • 22 JCB // Apr 9, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Although Canadian coke is better – Canadian Dr. Pepper is NOT better! US Dr Pepper beats Canadian on ANY day – as does US ketchup (which we have our US friends ship us regularly.)

  • 23 Poot and Cubby // Apr 11, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    [...] The weather (ha ha ha).  Being someone who likes living in Canada, but who isn’t really  patriotic, I can’t think of a really convincing answer.  Certainly not for the Tim Horton’s coffee.  I’ve heard that our coke and some of our chocolate is better, though.  Oh, and maybe for the health care.  I do dig the health care.  And George Bush doesn’t live here, but I suppose Stephen Harper isn’t really anything to brag about either.  Maybe you will find something in my recent post “My Deep, Dark Canadian Secrets” to entice you back to your homeland.  Perhaps, the possibility of an affair with one, George Stroumboulopoulos.  Yes, I know you’re a happily married woman, but it’s just between you and me (and the people reading my wee blog).  So, you, me, and like 5 other people. [...]

  • 24 Arivechi // Apr 11, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    I totally agree that Mexican coke is wayyy better than the stuff on the shelves in the US. I don’t drink soda very often at home but while doing field work in rural Mexico I am constantly offered Coke when I visit the local ranchers and families… and it does just hit the spot after a long day of hiking.

  • 25 susaninfrance // Apr 12, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    in texas they have dr. pepper with real sugar (from the imperial sugar company also in texas), not sure if it is widely distributed, but it is much better than DP with HFCS, it is a bit heavier though, but great with vanilla ice cream in a “DP float”.

  • 26 miranda // Apr 15, 2007 at 2:05 am

    kns – New Coke was created in an attempt to push Pepsi back, since Pepsi was encroaching on Coke’s popularity and routinely beat Coke in taste tests. Coke created a formula that tasted a little more like Pepsi – for one thing, while both are basically citrus-flavored, Coke tips to orange and Pepsi to lemon, so New Coke was more lemony. In blind taste tests, the new formula consistently and overwhelmingly beat the classic one.

    Yet when the formula was introduced, because the new formula was announced, there was public outcry and sales tanked. Presumably, if people who habitually drank Coke had *wanted* Pepsi, they’d have been buying it… and nothing made people want the old recipe of Coke more than being told that they couldn’t have it anymore.

    My holy grail of soft drinks is this Japanese product that Coca-Cola made for a while, Vegitabeta. It was sort of fruity (but not like fruit punch) and was supposed to be high in beta-carotene. When I lived in Florida, we went to Disney World at least once a year; Vegitabeta was served in a little “sodas from around the world” attraction called “Ice Station Cool” – it’s popular there, so they may still be serving it. However, I have heard that it’s become difficult to find in Japan, probably due to a government crackdown in the last few years on soft drinks that make health claims.

  • 27 miranda // Apr 15, 2007 at 2:11 am

    … I have this bizarre sensation that I’ve made essentially the same comment somewhere on the internet, possibly somewhere else on this blog. If that’s the case, sorry. :)

  • 28 Travis // May 4, 2007 at 7:43 am

    I was so surprised when I went to Vegas last year. (I’m from Canada) Here I drink usually a couple of bottles a day (20oz), and going down to the states I tried a couple and my first thought is I picked out a couple of bad bottles because I couldn’t even finish them. I’m not 100% sure but I think the actual flavor is different here as well.. I can definately taste a thicker orange taste from US Coke, but more of a Carmel taste from Canadian coke.. Does anyone know if Pepsi is also Corn syrup? (Because after the first couple days I decided I like US Pepsi a lot better than Canadian..)

  • 29 Jim // May 7, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    I live in Canada and also keep a stock of US ketchup. Canadian ketchup is too sugary, US ketchup is more sour.

    In both cases tomatoes is the first ingredient, but the second is “distilled vinegar” in the US, and “liquid sugar” in Canada!

    Canadian coke comes across as drier and crisper to me, I prefer it.

  • 30 paola // Jun 28, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Found a new source for Mexican Coke! The Cash ‘n Carry market near Safeco Field (4th and Holgate) has a case of 24 for $25

  • 31 Peter // Oct 10, 2007 at 5:55 am

    Just came back from Chicago – (I’m from Toronto) I noticed that the Coke in Chicago was less sweeter (355ml Can) only 140 calories verses the Canadian can had 160. Also all the coke can’s in Canada have the Kosher Union label(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox_Union) I’m not Jewish but doesn’t this mean that it is kosher if it has this label. I see this label on a lot of items and not just during Passover but all year round. (Sugar packages, Ajax, Candy Bars) Maybe it’s a Toronto thing because of the large Jewish Community.

    BTW – I prefer the American Coke – also Hershey’s Chocolate test better and sweeter in the states too.

  • 32 Soda Club Seltzer Maker | Tiny Choices // Jun 9, 2008 at 2:01 am

    [...] I need to call their customer service, because I ordered the seltzer package which is supposed to come with seltzer flavors, and I didn’t receive any. The package also came with a package of sample soda mix flavors which I just don’t care for – they’re made with spenda, even the non-diet varieties (I imagine because sugar would be a much larger volume), and I have the dubious talent of being able to distinguish chemical sweeteners in anything I drink, which, coupled with not particularly caring for them, means I don’t like any of the soda mix flavors. But I also have a lot of great ideas of things to make and mix with the seltzer – for example: a ginger simple syrup would be amazing, and kind of like ginger ale! also I can make Shirley Temples galore with grenadine, or fancy fizzy lemonade with lemon juice and simple syrup. Here’s a neat recipe for Open Source Cola, which I am so curious and interested to try – there’s a lot of talk about how American coke is made from high fructose corn syrup while our neighbors to the north and south get soda sweetened with real live sugar. I’d love to make my own and see if there’s a difference. [...]

  • 33 Bill S // Jul 13, 2008 at 3:51 am

    I’ve been into the kosher Coke thing for years trying to recapture the pre-corn syrup taste of my youth. I was happy to find this page. The main differences I’ve noted are 1) the taste (obviously) being cleaner and crisper with less aftertaste, 2) the bubbles are smaller, finer and the head lasts longer, 3) the smell when first poured is also a bit different when the head is descending.

    Living in the Detroit area I work with several people from Windsor, Canada who bring Canadian Coke over to the US side. We’ve done tastings with US Coke, Passover Coke and Canadian Coke all going head to head. The main difference we found between the Passover Coke and the Canadian Coke was that the Canadian Coke has routinely tasted more “flat” to the Americans. The carbonation levels seem consistently lower which makes the drink seem a bit sweeter and less acidic than the Kosher Coke. It doesn’t have the “snap” of US Coke. I’m actually drinking a Canadian Coke as I type this. Being research types by trade, we’ve done test and retests over time trying to control for the age of the Coke and the type of bottling used. Same result occured time after time. If others have done the same thing I’d love to know their findings.

    For those of you not near the Canadian border who have their friends smuggle over sucrose Coke, Mexican markets are the way to go. Goodluck!

  • 34 Lisa // Sep 1, 2008 at 6:13 am

    Before you plan your trip to Canada to stock up on Coke, be aware that the labeling “glucose-fructose” on the ingredient list is the Canadian word for High Fructose Corn Syrup. Canadian coke is definitely not better for you than US coke (since they both contain the evil HFCS) although you may like the taste better. Canadian Heinz ketchup does not contain HFCS, but I have heard that US Heinz ketchup does – just FYI.

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