Do the chemicals and flavors in Coke Zero and Diet Coke match up? The findings of our investigation may surprise you.
Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero: a battle of the giants. I was a child of the 1980s, thus Diet Coke was my preferred beverage for many years. I’m sorry, Tab. Although the pink cans were fashionable, the soda was terrible.
In the summer of 1982, Diet Coke was introduced. It was the Star Wars of low-calorie beverages and far superior to all others. For the first time, a diet Coke was available that didn’t make you think about how low in calories it was after each depressing sip. Coca-Cola never producing a new diet beverage, at least not to my knowledge.
But then Coke Zero appeared in 2005. Someone in the Coca-Cola laboratories wanted to create a diet beverage with a flavor closer to regular Coke. Did it succeed? Do these two drinks actually taste differently from one another, or is Coke Zero just a catchy name?
Differences between Coke Zero and Diet Coke?
Coke Zero and Diet Coke both have zero calories and sugar, and their component lists are comparable. Although you can get caffeine-free versions of both—look for the bottle with gold accents—they both contain carbonated water, caramel colour, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, aspartame, natural flavours, and caffeine.
Diet Coke includes one component that Coke Zero does not have: citric acid. Coke Zero contains two substances that Diet Coke does not have: potassium citrate and acesulfame potassium.
Coca-Cola Zero Sugar “looks and tastes more like Coca-Cola Classic, while Diet Coke has a lighter taste since it’s prepared with a different blend of flavours,” says Anna Wheeler, health and nutrition manager for Coca-Cola Great Britain.
That’s what the executives claim, then. Yet are they accurate?
Diet Coke vs. Coke Zero taste test
I cooled Diet Coke and Coke Zero cans for my head-to-head comparison, and I drank them without ice. Drinking Diet Coke makes me remember how far we’ve come since the 1980s. My initial reaction wasn’t, “Ugh, sure, this is a diet soda,” because it was smooth and delicious. I find it to be delightful, bubbly, refreshing on its own, and it pairs nicely with food. Although I’ve never mistaken it for a regular Coke, it’s still a superb diet beverage.
When Coke Zero underwent a reformulated last summer, I wasn’t hesitant to mention in my review that I didn’t love the new formula. It had a spiciness that previous Coke Zero didn’t have, and to me, it tasted almost sour. I didn’t taste that sourness this time, which may indicate that it has changed or that I have changed. Compared to Diet Coke, Coke Zero was smoother, sweeter, and much more effervescent in my opinion.