In Which I Reveal a Terrifying Secret

I actually prefer the taste of Diet Pepsi to Diet Coke.

Of course, I prefer Coke Zero to either, but at the moment I’m at a hotel which does not include that particular beverage among its offerings (at least not in the concierge lounge, where such carbonated beverages are provided at will — I do not say “free of charge” because their cost is included in the room charge). So when confronted with these choices, I’ve been choosing the Diet Pepsi.

I mention this so that those of you who come to LosCon this weekend will not feel shocked and dismayed when you see me wandering around with a Pepsi product and/or declare that I am not really John Scalzi at all, but instead some clever facsimile that has replaced the original, pod-like, whilst the real John Scalzi is trapped in a dank cell or is being slowly digested by alien plants, or whatever it is you may imagine in your fevered heads. Fear not; it’s really me.

Thank you for your attention.

63 thoughts on “In Which I Reveal a Terrifying Secret

  1. I was about to make Edvard Munch face and squeal “Oh My Stars And Garters!!” but then I remembered that I like Diet Pepsi better than Diet Coke too. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the tell-tale logo this weekend.

  2. I vouch for him. At Denvention 3, he was drinking Diet Pepsi, and when I enquired he muttered something about the lack of Coke Zero.

    Unhappily, there are still unenlightened beverage sources that don’t supply that champaign of soft drinks.

  3. …whilst the real John Scalzi is trapped in a dank cell…

    Drinkin’ a Diet Amontillado!

    – Jeff “Always been a Pepsi man; and all — all — diet drinks taste like ass, no exceptions” Hentosz

  4. Since all diet beverages are by definition abominations, I don’t think it makes much difference which one you choose. Is one circle of hell really that much better or worse than another?

  5. Kaf and Tania beat me to the only two points I was going to make. Now I have to think of something else to say (damn them). Oh, wait. No, I don’t. And you’d probably rather I didn’t.
    Enjoy your holiday and the LosCon thingy.

  6. At work we have a robot that emits a stream of hot drinks if you feed it flavour packets. I decided to feed it “Creamy Topping” and “Choco” just to see what comes out.

    I think /I’m/ the one being digested by an alien plant.

    I’m back to coffee tomorrow, I promise. If there /is/ a tomorrow for me.

  7. Diet Pepsi definitely trumps Diet Coke. It trumps regular Pepsi too, IMHO, only because it doesn’t have the harsh aftertaste that regular Pepsi does.

    Cherry Coke trumps all. That sucks, because they don’t carry Cherry Coke in Canada so I have to beg family and friends who are going travelling in the States to feed my (newfound) addiction.

  8. First, real america is hijacked by fake americans. Now real Scalzi is hijacked by fake Scalzi. Are any of us safe? How do we…

    Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!

  9. This echoes my tastes exactly. I prefer Coke over Pepsi, but Diet Pepsi over Diet Coke. This Wikipedia excerpt confirms what I’ve suspected about Diet Coke being completely different in taste than regular Coke:

    Diet Coke does not use a modified form of the Coca-Cola recipe, but instead an entirely different formula. The controversial New Coke, introduced in 1985, used a version of the Diet Coke recipe that contained high fructose corn syrup and had a slightly different balance of ingredients. In 2004, Coca-Cola introduced Coca-Cola C2, which it claims tastes much closer to Coca-Cola but contains half the carbohydrates. In 2005, the company introduced Coca-Cola Zero, a sugar-free variation of regular Coca-Cola.

    I can taste the similarity between Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, and between Coke and Coke Zero (and Tab, for that matter; can’t speak about C2). Diet Coke tastes nothing like regular Coke

  10. You mean to say you scored your personal In-N-Out gopher, but you failed to have a minion bring a cube of Coke Zero as an offering?

    (Where did you get the seemingly never-ending Coke Zero supply at VP, anyway?)

    Oh, and Pepsi One > Coke Zero > Diet Coke.

  11. I too prefer Diet Pepsi to Diet Coke, but Diet Pepsi triggers a very powerful cigarette craving in me (it was my beverage of choice when I was a smoker). I find Diet Coke to be very unsatisfying, so I was adrift for many years until Coke Zero showed me the way to my nicotine-free carbonated caffeine fix.

  12. I switched to diet soda earlier in the year. I thought I could never do it, since it tasted bleh.

    But I have to agree that diet pepsi tastes much less like diet than diet coke. I have not tried coke zero.

    I have noticed though, that when forced to drink diet coke, I feel “peppier,” I think maybe there is more caffeine in diet coke? Or maybe crack or something.

    But yeah I drink diet now, and honestly I like it better than regular soda which now tastes too sweet to me. weird.

  13. Nothing profound here except to say that I agree that
    - all diet beverages are by definition abominations
    - Cherry Coke trumps all

  14. Michigan’s “return containers to get your $0.10 back” finally turned me off to all such things.

    The diet drink that does not suck = tea.

    The best tea in a bottle? Tejava from Cost Plus World Market or Wholefoods. “Can’t you make tea just as good at home?” No, no I can’t.

    $1.50/liter

  15. I came by to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, but not if you’re drinking Diet Pepsi! That stuff kills the appetite. Send a boy to the hotel next door to get you Coke Zero, dammit. Be a Scalzi.

  16. I have noticed though, that when forced to drink diet coke, I feel “peppier,” I think maybe there is more caffeine in diet coke? Or maybe crack or something.

    Yes, Diet Coke has more caffeine in it, 46.5mg per can. Diet Pepsi only has 36mg per can. Coke Zero has even less caffeine at 34.5mg per can.

    The most caffeinated soda is Diet Pepsi Max, at 69mg of caffeine per 12oz. can. For scale, a cup of coffee (instant) has 57mg.

    I worked third shift in tech support for a while. Caffeine content of sodas was an important knowledge base. You don’t know caffeine buzz until you’ve tried washing down a handful of chocolate-covered espresso beans with a can of Jolt.

  17. When breaking my soda addiction, I leapt past all diet sodas and into iced tea. Of course, when I’m in the South, I have to avoid the ‘sweet tea’ trap.

  18. Preferring one diet drink over another diet drink is rather like preferring cat pee over dog pee (or vice versa). Either way, you’re drinking pee. But hey, as long as you like pee, it’s all good, right? :)

  19. I like my diet drinks with artificial flavor, so I’m a Diet Pepsi Vanilla or Diet Pepsi Lime person. I will grab a Diet Pepsi when forced, or maybe a Diet Coke.

    But a little lemon/lime goes a long way in a diet drink, and bars/restaurants often have little slices of citrus just sitting around. A thought for Pod-Scalzi to mull over, in its slow, alien-vegetable-like way.

    - yeff

  20. John,

    As a medical professional, I strongly urge you to get your hormone levels tested. It is a know fact that testosterone and the taste molecules of Diet Pepsi are immiscible.
    Seriously, the next thing you know you’ll be telling us how much you like Tab.

  21. Diet Coke is heinous. Zero is ok, but you should try Diet Coke with Splenda, which is pretty damn good.

    One thing I’ve discovered in shuttling through the options – as a lifelong Coke person I’ve found that Zero and DC/Spenda have dramatically increased my tolerance for both Diet Pepsi and Pepsi. Straight Diet Coke is still horrible and Regular Coke is still good, but I find myself getting Pepsi more and more often when I fall off the wagon.

  22. To all those attending LosCon take note: Scalzi is without Coke Zero. If I were going, I think I would take care of that little snafu. Just putting that out there…

  23. Some people act like it really doesn’t matter what carbonated beverage is in hand, let alone when first choice is out of reach. I say they are LIARS! Pop connoisseurs can make discriminating choices and wrinkle their noses just like any of the best snobs around.

  24. Marko@28-

    Thanks! I suspected something to that effect. Sometimes I actually will buy a diet coke over a diet pepsi for that reason. I suppose that is the only way they can get anyone to buy it instead, since it tastes so terrible.

    As for washing down chocolate covered espresso beans with a jolt cola.. that sounds like a fun party. I will be doing that during the end of the semester to get through all the 20 page papers I have to write.

  25. Jeff@41

    Yes I was aware of that. Morphine/heroine was also commercially available until 1913 I believe. :)

    I think in some South American countries you can still get cola with actual coca derivatives still in it. I’m pretty sure I heard that on Dr Dean Edell the other day.

  26. To me diet sodas have always seemed a bit like decaf – a waste of perfectly good water. I mean what is the point of drinking brown scum if it doesn’t at least give you a hit?

  27. I tend to avoid diet beverages with aspartame if I can. I either drink iced tea or Splenda sweetened beverages when seeking diet beverages. However at one place that I frequent for lunch I have routinely gotten the Cherry Coke Zero. (Yes, it’s not Diet Cherry Coke.) The place also has Diet Dr. Pepper and I find that I prefer the Cherry Coke Zero over the Diet Dr. Pepper. I also like Honest Tea for my non-diet tea selections, if I can find it.

  28. TD @36 beat me to it: DC with splenda is much less nasty than DC with aspartame, but it’s not universally available. Coke Zero (sweetened with aspartame and whuzzat-other-stuff? acesomething potassium?anyway) is much closer to the regular coca cola flavor than diet coke is.

    Don’t even get me started on the foulness that is Tab. I think it’s still got cy… Dammit, that stuff that’s in Sweet-N-Low that is NOT “cyanide” but might as well be for its foulness. Nasty nasty 70′s vintage artificial sweetner.

  29. Also. Diet Dr. Pepper would be a lot nicer if it didn’t have an aftertaste that reminds me of soap.

    Does anybody else get this?

  30. Amen! When compared to Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke tastes like ass, not that I’ve partaken, mind you. But, the taste of Diet Coke is what I believe ass tastes like. Coke Zero does taste better than both, but Diet Dr. Pepper is the hands down taste winner.

  31. Thena @# 45: Cyclamate? From two minutes of googling, I believe it’s still banned in the US, though permitted in 55 countries including Canada.

  32. Funnily enough, I had a Diet Pepsi just two days ago and thought to myself that I’d much rather drink Diet Coke. But I live in India, and Coke and Pepsi taste different here. (For one, I think both companies make drinks that are sweeter than their US counterparts, but it’s years since I tasted the US versions, so I can’t be sure.)

  33. I was always amused by the so-called Pepsi Challenge given in grocery stores — the sodas are always warm. Pepsi warm is more aromatic than Coca-Cola, so it surprises people. Hence all those people who think that Pepsi tastes “better” than Coke.

    The diet products? Forget them.

    Dr. Phil

  34. Amanda @ #30: Drinking Jolt or Mountain Dew to fall asleep is a moderately reliable indicator for AD/HD.

    Jeff @ #42: No, they put coca leaf in Coke originally. Crack is a more purified form and slightly different chemically. People can chew coca leaf for years without getting into trouble, whereas crack is instantly addictive and can kill a long-term user.

    (Also note that coca and cacao are two different substances, though there have been some entertaining issues in confusing the two.)

  35. As a persecuted minority – I suspect the Diet Coke we have over here is different to yours – I have to say I’d rather drink Fanta than Diet Pepsi. Pepsi Mex, on the other hand, is just about tolerable.

    Whatever gets you through the night.

  36. I think I would have been more shocked (he said as he took a big swig of his hot cup of a##) if he had said he would be wandering around the convention with a hot cup of coffee.

  37. Well, that’s fine. Because then there’s more Diet Coke in the world for meeeeeeee!

    Actually, I hate the taste of regular Coke. Diet only, thankyouverymuch. Plus, I would like the one with the most caffeine in it.

    Marko, I’ll have to try that thing with the espresso beans. Why yes, I do have some on me. No Jolt though. You can’t get it here.

  38. Oh sure, that’s exactly what Pod-Scalzi would *want* us to think!

    I’d like to mention that we seem to have missed the important question while discussing the merits of sodas.

    Which writes faster – the real Scalzi or Pod-Scalzi?

    ‘cos, you know, if the latter, then should we really care if the human is now fertilising some alien root system or not?

  39. Diet Coke is swill. I tried and kind of liked Diet Coke with Splenda (which isn’t available in my local stores in anything other than cans), but it was emphatically pushed aside when I tried Coke Zero. Diet Pepsi is acceptable when Coke Zero isn’t available.

    Also good: Diet Cherry 7UP; Diet Dr. Pepper; and (when I don’t want carbonated drinks) Crystal Light.

  40. What? Insanity. Diet Pepsi smells like dishwashing detergent, although the detergent probably tastes better.

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