Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Diet Drink Diatribe for Tuesday

I hate the taste of Diet Coke. In fact I hate all diet drinks because I hate the taste of whatever it is they use as a substitute for sugar. Starting with cyclamates. Remember cyclamates? They were the new miracle sugar substitute until somebody started a rumor that they caused bladder cancer in ants or cockroaches and they had to flee to Canada. 
     Now they're making diet drinks with Equal, Splenda, Stevia and whatever that crap in the pink packet is. And, hello, cyclamates are back again. I guess the statute of limitations has expired. Regardless, I have hated them all. Starting with TAB, the first Totally Artificial Beverage. But I have a special spot near my bile duct for Diet Coke.
     Unfortunately, I may be the only woman in the world who hasn't made Diet Coke her non-alcoholic beverage of choice.   
     Seriously, it's the one drink that every woman I know will order with anything they eat. Big Mac and fries. Osso bucco. Imported artisan cheese with fresh pears. Le Boeuf Bourguignon. Pork rinds. Sushi. 
     I know this because I'm usually there when they say, "And I'll have a Diet Coke with that." It's as if the obscene caloric intake about to be consumed will be negated by drinking this magic potion. On reflection, it occurs to me that those same women may also find the taste of Diet Coke vile, but, in true female fashion, they order it to balance out whatever excesses they are about to embark on. If I drink this swill, then I'm free to eat whatever I want. I think I just had an aha moment. Somebody call Oprah. 
     Recently, at a party, the hostess offered to get me something to drink. I asked for a tonic and lime. No tonic. I asked for a ginger ale. Only Mountain Dew. [P.S. Never drink anything iridescent]. So I said, how about a Coke? Nothing like the thrill of full contact sugar with a rousing blast of caffeine to kick in my beta blockers. 
     Right after the first sip, like an unsuspecting spy in a John Le Carre novel, I said in my own inimitable way, "Ewww, this is DIET Coke, not REAL Coke." If I hadn't been worried about unhinging my new hips, I would have fallen to the floor and feigned death. [Yet another reason why being sixty-six sucks.] 
     Did I receive an apology for this unfortunate assault on my palate. Nooooo. Just a tepid, "Oh I just assumed Diet Coke would be okay." Bringing me a Diet Coke is like serving Two Buck Chuck at a state dinner. 
     How bad is my obsession with The Real Thing? By "real" I mean sugar. Apparently it has international implications. Recently I was at Chicago's Trump Tower for a movie junket. My job was to eat from the buffet of fruit and pastries while the interview was going on. 
     I noticed they were offering six-ounce Cokes in glass bottles. What cute little Cokes, I thought. So I had one. It was delicious. "Boy this tastes good," I said, telling the people I was with to try one. "It must be the glass bottles." 
     That's when I learned it wasn't the glass bottles. Not at all. These Cokes could be Mexican Cokes. Cue David Caruso. Wait, Miami is Cuban. Apparently, in Mexico they make Cokes with cane sugar, not corn syrup. I guess the word is out that cane sugar tastes better. I can tell you it's true. Now Mexican stores can't keep up with the demand. You can read about it HERE.
     Tracking down a good source of Mexican Coca Cola [notice I didn't say Coke because I don't want the Feds reading this blog. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't say Feds.] reminds me of the days when you couldn't get Coors beer east of Nebraska. So my husband and I filled up the trunk with cases of the stuff on our way back from Wyoming one year. Only nobody told us that Coors had to be kept refrigerated or it would go bad. Until one day I opened up the pantry to get some out for a party and at least 100 cans looked like they were about to explode. 
     But I digress in my rant about Diet Coke. The bad news about hating Diet Coke with so much passion is that many times, okay twice, I've had to return to McDonald's drive-thru, after taking a sip of my drink at a stoplight a mile down the road and discovering to my horror that the "Coke" I ordered is actually [ptui] Diet. And they thought I wouldn't notice. 
     The good news is that I have discovered Mexican Coke, er, Coca Cola -- the answer to my never-ending quest for the best sugar rush money for soda pop can buy. Of course, in the future, whenever I request a Coca Cola, I intend to ask whether they're serving the quality Mexican beverage or the inferior American formula.
     And don't get me started on butter. 


redsneakz said...

They don't say cane sugar - it could be beet sugar.

But it sure as shit isn't high fructose corn syrup.

Here's another hint for you that I don't necessarily want to get out, but I'll risk it anyway. If you're a North Shore lady, then make your way towards Skokie or Lincolnwood sometime during the month of March, and look for "Kosher for Passover" coke. It usually has yellow, rather than red, tops.

No corn syrup there, either.

Tiny Elvis said...

I tried jumping on the TAB train after watching a few 80's movies a few years back. That was full of fail. Then I tried doing the Diet Coke Plus because it was "healthy" and full of vitamins. That too failed. Usually when I go out, water is my non-alcoholic beverage of choice (yeah, I'm one of those, but it's not because I'm cheap). I'm mostly just ain't a soda fan. Like, I have to really, really be in the mood for one.

If it were socially acceptable to have beer with every meal, I'd probably do it.

Donna said...

My husband and my daughter vastly prefer diet Coke. Cliff says sugar soda tastes like syrup to him. So not everybody is drinking it because of no calories. I prefer sugar-sweetened Coke or Pepsi, andI know about how good Mexican Coke is. I was down there two different times on missions trips. The first time I had one of their Cokes, I thought to myself, "This is how Coke tasted when I was a kid!"
Actually, I drink very little pop. Cliff drinks at least two Diet Cokes a day, so he makes up for what I don't drink.

Mrs. L said...

REDSNEAKZ: Actually, the article does say CANE SUGAR SYRUP. I've heard that from other people, too.

TINY ELVIS: I started drinking tap water with a squeeze of lemon and it's really refreshing. Full disclosure -- I haven't tried Coke Zero yet, so there's always a chance I'll change my mind about DIET.

DONNA: It DOES taste like our childhood Cokes, doesn't it? A better sweetness.

Remo said...

I honestly believe they will determine that artificial sweeteners cause a host of maladies. I gave up soda, except for the random splash of 7-up across the top of good bourbon.

Mexican Coke is all over the place out here. Go figure.

Wil said...

I have managed to wean myself from both Coke and Diet Coke in favor of unsweetened iced tea.

Then again, I still use the food lube I was brought up on - real butter. None of this margarine crap for me.
I expect to need the second bypass operation, or at least a stent, any day now.

emmapeelDallas said...

Wow, we both love bagels with lox and cream cheese and we both HATE diet coke! Trust me, you'll hate that frigging Coke Zero too. I've been drinking Mexican coke for years (it's pretty easy to find down here) and I love the taste of the real sugar. But you're right; most women (and men) I know swear by diet coke. All I can say is YUCK!