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Miscellaneous Debris
Turtles, all the way down

Cola? Soda? Coke? Pop?

What generic term do YOU use to refer to those lovable, carbonated drinks we so love to drink?

In the US, it seems, the popular terms are Soda, Coke or Pop, and the choice is extremely regional. Different areas have different terms, but in some places you can find specific counties with local terms used:

 

(click for full map, of course)

For a set of comments on this map, see here.

For another, interactive map, go here. They have more statistics, too!

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2 confessions , Repent!

You can tell this hotel is fancier than others I've been to, even for a businessman's hotel - the internet is free, there's a European/Israeli power plug on the desk and there are 4 different flavors of soap - Cream, Apple, Orange and Lemon.

Also - Coke Zero!

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2 confessions , Repent!

A new drink has entered the already saturated Coca Cola product family. I've seen it in the US but hadn't gotten around to sampling it, so now I tried it out in the UK. I'm talking, of course, about the Coca-Cola Zero (left).

The Coca Coka Zero has a rather interesting history, it would seem. Takes us back all the way to 1985 and the New Coke fiasco and even before that, to 1982 and the launch of Diet Coke, the most popular sugar-free soda in the world.

The difference in flavors between Coke and Diet Coke are not accounted for simply by the replacement of sugar with aspartame and other sweeteners. These two beverages use a completely different formula of chemicals and whatnot for their flavor - Diet Coke's formula was originally conceived independently of Coca Cola's formula, specifically for that drink.

When Coca Cola wanted a new formula for their flagship product in 1985, they turned to the popular Diet Coke and reformulated that with sugar and a different blend of chemicals ingredients. After New Coke bombed, Diet Coke and Coca Cola continued their seperate ways.

 

Coca Cola Zero was introduced to the world earlier this year, and at first seemed a surprising move - what's the different between Coke Zero and Diet Coke? Both are aspartame and Ace-K based sugarfree Coke beverages, so what's the deal?

The deal, as my exposition clearly leads up to, is that Coke Zero is a sugarfree Coke that uses the standard, classic Coca Cola formula. Its flavor is much, much closer to that of normal Coke, and it has the added advantage of being sugarfree, which makes it better than the US's horrible high-fructose corn syrup sugar-substitute.

Marketing of Coke Zero in the UK so far has been mostly targeted at young men, a relatively weak demographic in the sugarfree Coke segment. Diet Coke is traditionally seen as a weight-conscious woman's drink. Ordering one is as much a blow to one's masculinity as eating a salad. This is why the new brand (Zero is much more manly that Diet), why the new color scheme (Black, baby! Black!) and the using of babes to promote it.

In short, my professional opinion: It's good. We like it. Bring it over the Israel.

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7 confessions , Repent!

In the beginning... was Coca Cola. From the soda fountain to the bottling plant, to New Coke and back to Classic and Cherry Coke and Diet Coke and Vanilla and Coke with Lime, the line expanded and branched out. So until we reach the logical conclusion and are able to buy a Jalapeño Coke or Double Bacon Cokeburger, we'll have to settle for the Coca Cola's company latest invention: behold the Coca Cola Blãk!

 

As the half-obscured label on the bottom proclaims, this is a Carbonated Fusion Beverage. What was Coca Cola fused with, you ask? Why, with its natural complement! What goes well with a high-caffeine drink? More caffeine! Yes, it's true. Coca-Cola Blãk is half Coke, half Coffee, double the caffeine surge.

Personally, I tend to be unaffected by caffeine. Maybe it's my body mass, maybe the metabolism, maybe just being used to it. But I'm guessing this can substitute for Mountain Dew or Red Bull in a pinch when it comes to alertness.

The flavor, however, was unexpected in the sense that it tastes like Coca Cola... and coffee. Yes, it's that simple. Imagine mixing a glass of iced coffee (not the slush kind, the liquid kind) with a Coke and that's what you have. It's hard to describe the mix - it doesn't have an aftertaste as much as it is the two flavors vying for conquest of your tastebuds, and after the melee there is only the faint bitter taste of vict^H^H^H^H coffee left in your mouth.

All in all, I didn't like it very much. The flavors didn't fuse particularly well. It was very interesting, though, and worth a shot for any soft-drink or coffee fan out for some adventure.

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5 confessions , Repent!

In Douglas Coupland's "Microserfs", protagonist Dan, ever the consumer junkie, goes wild with excitement over the announced Crystal Pepsi:

The day they introduced Crystal Pepsi, I harassed the local Safeway manager almost daily until it arrived. I thought this new Pepsi was going to be like regular Pepsi, except minus the plutonium stuff that turns it brown. Then I tasted it - it was like 7-Up and Dr. Pepper and Pepsi and tap water all sort of randomly mixed and decolorized. Downer!

Well, I didn't see any Crystal Pepsi, probably a failed marketing scheme from 15 years ago. But I did get my hands on a bottle of Diet Sprite Zero. And it's in French, too - bought in Montreal. Tastes just like regular Diet Sprite but clear, refreshing, inspiring and totally transparent.

I need to sleep now.

(Clickable to the MAX)

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Repent!

Two more cream sodas for your enjoyment and edification. These two were purchased in Wisconsin on our way to the House on the Rock

The first was Avshalom's Point Premium Vanilla Cream Soda, which was really good. You could really taste the vanilla in it


(click to enlarge)

The second was my Blumer's Blueberry Cream. While blueberry really isn't my thing, I couldn't resist the dishwashing-liquid color of this delightful little gem of a bottle. The flavor was also rather nice. Creamy, of course, with a delicate sweetness and an interesting aftertaste. Definitely an amuse-bouche worthy of the true soft drink .

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Repent!

An important part of my American odyssey is my persistent search for soft drinks. Any semi-regular reader of this blog should probably know that already. The US is the motherlode of carbonated beverages and sweetened sodas, so it shall come as no surprise that I've been consuming a wide variety of these drinks in the past few weeks.

The first one I'll talk about is Cream Soda. I don't know why this never made it to Israel - it's like a normal soda but with a creamy aftertaste that probably comes from the cane sugar - or the cane sugar substitute, I suppose.

The first one I had, and still my favorite, was Jones Cream Soda. The Jones sodas are available in Starbucks and the occasional posh deli, and are really realy good. I had both the regular Cream Soda and the Orange and Cream, and they both rocked. The non-creamy artificially-sweetened diet Black Cherry was icky, though.

More cream sodas to come.

Jones Cream SodaCollapse )

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5 confessions , Repent!
Two short updates

1. Prigat Clear Fruit Drinks - I am very leery of colorless flavored drinks. I'm still recovering from the "mineral water with fruit flavorings" trend, which is basically an excuse to sell watered down juice and claim it's somehow better than real juice. Or than real water. Or something. Ugh.
Prigat's new fruit drinks, however, are a surprise. I tasted the Clear Pineapple drink, and found it surprisingly palatable. It has flavor - real flavor, not water with a hint of flavor - but is not excessively sweet. It doesn't taste anything like pineapple of course, but hey - pineapple doesn't taste much like pineapple either. It had the perfectly acceptable taste of a pineapple popsicle melted down into a bottle, with some of the sweetness taken away. All in all, a fine beverage if you're into that sort of thing. And it's colorless, which is always a plus.

2. Diet Grapefruit Fanta - I had wanted to find the non-diet variety, but settled for what I could find.
What can I say? It's great. It has a fake grapefruity flavor, it's a bit bitter and not too sweet, and even the aspartame is hardly felt. Heartily recommended. I'll go buy some bottles to take home - maybe if I buy enough, they won't take it off the shelf in a month or two.

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Repent!
A few weeks ago Virgin Inc. launched its line of soft drinks here in Israel. (Click here for the awful, loud, painfully ugly site)
Now, as a fan of anything faintly stinking of pop culture, and as part of the role of Defender of Public Consumption, I bring to you the perliminary results from my tests:

Black
This, of course, is the main product in this line, the original Virgin Cola launched in 1994. Their site claims their sales in the UK and Europe are excellent, but fail to mention the US, which is not surprising. Coke and Pepsi are firmly entrenched in American collective consciousness, and the Coca-Cola/Pepsi wars caused such a stir that other companies simply can't compete. Besides, what true-blooded American will drink a god-damn European cola?
The product itself, by the way, isn't bad at all. Too sweet, perhaps, but definitely passable. Beats RC Cola and other abominations hands-down.

White
This is Virgin's Diet Coke equivalent. I haven't tasted it yet, I admit, but I just wanted to say I like the whole color-coded drink concept.

Vanilla
Vanilla is a color?
Nevermind. This is a much maligned flavor, usually eliciting such thought-provoking comments as "Ecch" or the witty "Ewwwwww", but I rather like it. It starts out as a simple Cola. After a second or two - WHAM! Vanilla! Cool or what?

Blue
Ah, lemon-lime, that elusive tase. Has anyone ever actually tasted anything NATURAL that tastes like Sprite?
Never mind. Sprite is one of my favorite soft-drinks, and 7-Up isn't too bad either, so I had high hopes for this one. And anyway - it's blue! Can't go wrong with a blue softdrink, can you?
You can.
Should have suspected when I saw the drink was not, in fact, blue - only the bottle was. That was disappointing but didn't come close to the near-gagging that came when I actually tasted the stuff. Vile.
I left it near the kitchen sink. I'm hoping I go there one day and it'll be gone. I'm sure as hell not touching that thing again.

Neon-Green
Nothing says "refreshing" like radioactive food-coloring.
This is actually a rather nice drink, though indistinguishable from Lemon Fanta. If drinks that can unplug a drain are you thing, go for it.

Orange
This is cheating. This breaks the whole color-coding scheme. It's both a flavor AND a color? Bah.
Haven't tried it yet.

Pink
Pink.
Yes, Pink. Do you have a problem with that? Do you? DO YOU?
I have just one problem with it, and that's the fact that it's not available anywhere.
It's supposed to be this Pink Grapefruit flavor - which is cool - but no-one's heard of it outside of the
site. Grrr.

A few more anecdotes:

  • Vanilla is a new flavor, even in the UK.

  • The cola bottles in the UK are horrendously ugly, like the Coke bottles in Israel in the 80's.

  • Virgin's UK site sucks, with very little information.

  • They have a line of fruit-pulp-enriched carbonated beverages in Orange, Red Orange and Lemon flavors. Sounds really cool. Anyone going to the UK soon and can get me a bottle or two of these?

  • The Japanese Virgin site allows you to order a 350ml bottle of Virgin Cola online. Hmpf

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2 confessions , Repent!