Friday, April 23, 2004

American Splenda

So Coke announced this week that it was launching a "low-carb" or "mid-calorie" soda named "C2". The news reports I saw first called it "low-carb," which was confusing. Basically, it's a semi-diet soda. "Low-carb" is just the latest trendy term that they're using. This brought up the question -- what's in it?

I'm at the point in my life where I don't need to be gulping down sugary sodas all day -- on the other hand, I do rely on a certain amount of caffeine to get me through the day. And I don't like aspartame (Nutrasweet). A few years back, Pepsi came out with Pepsi One, which replaced some of the aspartame with acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), a more modern and better tasting soda. I drank that for a while, but it's really only palatable when you haven't had enough caffeine to wake you up to realize what you're tasting.

There's another "modern" sweetener that's been gaining popularity -- sucralose (Splenda). As far as I'm concerned, it's a fine sugar substitute and is incorporated into such products as Healthy Pop Kettle Corn. A widely available sucralose-powered soda is Diet Rite -- sadly, though, it lacks caffeine. The same people make Diet RC, but the only place I've been able to find that is Arizona.

Sucralose is also the key ingredient in Diet Cheerwine. I've been drinking a lot of that. Unfortunately, that requires loading up the car with 20-30 cases of Diet Cheerwine on every visit to North Carolina. I think the closest place that sells Diet Cheerwine is about 3 hours away, in Virginia. Right now I'm down to my last case.

While a "mid-cal" cola is not a "no-cal" cola, given the marketing prowess of Coke, it should be more widely available. I hoped that Coke would see fit to use sucralose in C2, to provide me with an alternative to filling up on Vanilla Coke (mmm...Vanilla Coke) when there's no Diet Cheerwine at hand. Well as this article explains, they do use Splenda, but...

Coke's product will apparently contain a veritable cocktail of all the sweeteners that could possibly grace a carbonated beverage. That's high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame (NutraSweet), acesulfam K, and sucralose (otherwise known as Atkins' favorite sweetener, Splenda).

Ironically, one sweetener missing is sugar, but that's understandable given the wacky sugar tariffs the US has in place. Given the present of aspartame, C2 doesn't seem to be a good alternative. Happily, the article also explains, "Pepsi Edge, on the other hand, contains high-fructose corn syrup and sucralose." So I'm looking forward to checking that out when it comes out this summer. And maybe Coke will see the light and ditch the aspartame...maybe by the time C3 comes out.

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