Is This The End of Our Hero, Coke Zero, Part II: The Zeroening

Coke announced today that it’s rebranding Coke Zero to “Coke Zero Sugar”:

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is the new and improved Coke Zero. We’ve made the great taste of Coke Zero even better by optimizing the unique blend of flavors that gave Coke Zero its real Coca-Cola taste. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is our best-tasting zero-sugar Coca-Cola yet, and it will be available across America in August.

Basically, it’s the same new formula it’s been introducing in foreign markets as “Coke No Sugar” but Coke is keeping the “Zero” branding here because it’s been successful and they don’t want to confuse us poor Americans any more than we already are in these trying times. Or something.

As I noted previously (see the second link, there), I am perfectly fine with Coke attempting this revamp — by all reviews I’ve seen the “Zero Sugar” version tastes more like standard Coke than Coke Zero, and since “actually tasting like regular Coke” is why I drink Coke Zero in the first place (Diet Coke shares its flavor profile with the late, unlamented New Coke), I’ll willing to give this new version a shot. If it turns out I hate it, well. I guess then that August 2017 will be a fine time for me to drastically cut down my soda drinking. I suspect I’ll probably continue calling the new stuff “Coke Zero” rather than “Coke Zero Sugar,” because it’s two fewer syllables and I’m all about efficiency.

So in effect, I think that this is less like Coke Zero dying than it is Coke Zero regenerating, timelord-like, into its next iteration. And I suspect I will remain its constant companion.

39 Comments on “Is This The End of Our Hero, Coke Zero, Part II: The Zeroening”

  1. I know I’m always less confused when the thing I call my car is still called “my car”, but turns in to a minivan.

  2. Time Lord-like?

    Does this mean people are going to whine even more when it regenerates into the Doctor (Dr Pepper, that is)?

  3. Well, darn, now I’ll have to read the labels for a while until I can instinctively reach for the correct bottles. My husband is a guzzler of the black label with gold print (caffeine free Coke Zero).

  4. Saw in England the “no sugar” version but it was only a small change to the original black label, fwiw.

  5. If I hadn’t read your post, I’d have assumed that “Coke Zero Sugar” was Coke Zero, but with Sugar.

    I think others may be similarly confused…

  6. I look forward to hearing of your adventures as you and a bottle of Coke Zero Sugar rescue each other from improbable circumstances.

  7. I really hope the flavor doesn’t change too much. I grew up on the diet stuff, ‘cuz dad was diabetic, and so I found regular Coke to be cloyingly sweet. I liked Zero because it had a pretty good bite without a lot of sweetness. If that remains, I’m okay.

    I still want my Jolt back, though.

  8. Drink Water (not bottled). Or Coffee. (definitely NOT tea)
    Stop paying the soda pop overlords money for sugared water.

  9. I was hoping to commiserate with you about the Coke Zero dilemma when you were here for Denver Comic Con, but I wasn’t able to go this year.

    I, for one, welcome our new Coke Zero Sugar overlords, as long as they don’t taste like Diet Coke.

  10. @Brian Greenberg, I thought the same thing. Read it as “Coke Zero, Sugar” instead of “Coke, Zero Sugar”…

  11. As a new brand, Coke Zero Sugar works fine. In any market segment where Coke Zero already exists, it WILL be misread as “Coke Zero with sugar added to it”. Bad move….

  12. Canuklehead:

    Wait, why not tea?
    The emphasis in your post makes it seem like tea is MUCH WORSE than coffee in some way.
    Please elaborate.

  13. As long as they keep it Zero Calorie, I’m willing to give it a shot. If it sucks, well, that’s what tea is for.

  14. Here’s hoping I like it better than current Coke Zero. I drink way too much Coke, but I can’t stand the diet versions. I might have to just force myself to drink it. It’s definitely better than coffee.

  15. I was a heavy fan (2 or more bottles a day) of Coke Zero for nearly a decade. Suddenly, less than a year after my 50th birthday, my digestion system could not handle it any more. Even small doses lead to cramps and other unpleasant side effects. This is not restricted to Coke Zero. I had to quit nearly all artificial sweeteners. Withdrawal symptoms were perceptible for nearly a week.

  16. As of right now…this post has two more comments (now three!) than the post on Trump’s latest announcement on the military. Hmmmm. :(

  17. I don’t know. The Coke Zero, Sugar added interpretation doesn’t make sense to me. If it had sugar added to it, it wouldn’t be Zero. Surely people that drink Coke Zero are aware that the Zero was intended to mean and always has meant 0 sugar?

  18. Surely, Scalzi, with your immense Internet power combined with the force of Cute that are the Scamperbeasts, can cause Coke to introduce a companion product called Coke Zero Spice!

  19. You’re living in a different branch of the multiverse to me! In my branch, Diet Coke came out in 1982, nearly three years before “New Coke”, and the success of the sweeter tasting Diet Coke may, IMO, have influenced the company to make Coca-Cola itself sweeter tasting with “New Coke”.

    In the UK, the branding is a “Zero Sugar Coca-Cola” rather than “Coke Zero Sugar”.

  20. >> William Maples says: Wait, why not tea?
    Because it’s tea.
    I dislike most tea immensely – except green tea.

    >> John Scalzi says: My sugared water doesn’t even have sugar in it! OUTRAGE
    So you pay extra for “sugar water” thats not sugared ?

    I loathe paying for bottled water and consider it perhaps the single biggest scam ever perpetrated on the world. And I have mostly stopped drinking soda’s of all kinds.
    I used to drink several a day and now a case of 12 cans lasts me several months at least.

  21. The soda pop “overlords”? Never has the cola industry been so strong as to maintain a standing army as the tea empires did.

  22. I’m dreading the change, but then you mentioned Time Lords, so I’m going to try to dread it less.

    (Also, I’m a grown-ass person, so anyone telling me “just drink water” or “artificial sweeteners are bad for you”, as if I haven’t been forwarded the emails for forever, will be soundly mocked.)

  23. New Coke Redux? Let’s see how the new brand goes over. I swill a lot of CZ (as we say on the ‘street’) and I’m firmly in the “really?” camp

  24. Damned if I know the nitty-gritty of coke formulas here in Upper Canuckistan, but I’m enjoy a cold glass of Canadian “Coke Zero Sugar” right now and gotta say… not bad. Still better than Diet Coke, at the very least.

  25. FYI: If you notice your joints aching…I used to be a Coke Zero addict myself, but noticed that my joints were often aching. I put it off to being 53, but then in passing a friend mentioned she had cut out all diet drinks due to aching joints. I went, hmmmm…. Since I stopped Coke Zero, my joints no longer ache. A bit of research on the ‘net led to numerous anecdote accounts reporting similar results. So if you notice your joints aching at some point…

  26. I see they’ve switched up the branding since the trial version they floated in New Zealand and Australia. That’s good, because the label looked too much like Regular Coke.

  27. Which SciFi writer/blogster should I switch to in order to read frequent essays about versions of root beer or lemon/lime sodas instead of the appalling colas?

    (nb: not really switching away from Scalzi for his soda choices)

  28. The new formulation is delicious. I have been drinking it for many weeks (EU resident). I imagine you will like it and move forward happily in your soda drinking life.

  29. My verdict- better than Coke Zero, not as good as real Coke. But none of it still tastes the same as Coke did when it came in glass bottles with the flip off cap you needed a bottle opener to remove( or your teeth, if you were an idiot, and didn’t mind frequent trips to the dentist)

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