“The taste of limitless possibilities.” “The flavors of unknown stars.” “Tastes like magic.” While Coca-Cola Starlight’s promotional materials are pretty elaborate when it comes to capturing the soda’s galactic aesthetic, they’re surprisingly lax about, well, what it actually tastes like. Fortunately, I’m prepared to take one small step for reviewer, one giant leap for junk food fankind!
Pouring the drink from its adorably tiny, star-speckled can (it’s also available in the typical 20 oz bottle) into a clear glass showed that it’s as red as Mars. Okay, maybe more of a burgundy, but it’s certainly more colorful than your average Coke. I sampled the full-sugar version, though you can also get Starlight as sugar-free. It had the general taste you’d expect of Coke, simultaneously sweet and bitingly carbonated. However, there’s another note that, much like a UFO, wasn’t possible for me to immediately identify.
At first, I wanted to describe it as fruity, but upon further probing, I think that was just the influence of the berry-like hue. Starlight’s unique flavor — which was especially prominent in the aftertaste and even in the soda’s scent — is actually closer to that of a graham cracker. Coca-Cola also notes that a “subtle cooling sensation” is one of this drink’s features. When pressed, I could indeed vaguely identify a chilly feeling similar to when you drink water directly after brushing your teeth with mint toothpaste. But honestly, I didn’t really notice it until I looked for it, so I guess the “subtle” part is right!
Starlight’s theme is a bit unusual for a brand that usually determines flavors by slapping the name of a fruit in front of “Coca-Cola.” But I can make out a train of thought somewhere along the lines of “Space -> stars -> stargazing -> camping -> s’mores -> graham cracker, ergo space flavor = graham cracker.”
It may not be the most intuitive fit, but if you’re willing to think outside the box a little, it works pretty well, and I think the same can be said for Starlight’s taste. While I could still see this offering fitting in well with classic fruity faves like Cherry Vanilla in a Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine, I, for one, praise our Coca-Cola overlords for making a new flavor that defies such simple characterization.
Starlight is also not just tasty but trendy, already rocking collaborations with singer Ava Max and fashion brand Staple. I felt about a million light-years old trying to figure out how to scan my can with my phone camera to pull up an augmented reality concert from a holographic Ms. Max, but the concept had me starry-eyed. Because Starlight’s release coincides with the launch of the new Coca-Cola Creations, a “global innovation platform” that will spotlight an array of Coca-Cola-branded products and experiences both physical and digital, we can expect more innovative flavors and applications to come.
Sadly, like many other stars, Starlight’s time in the limelight is fleeting, as it’s limited edition. Ultimately, I think the combination of curious concept, creative marketing crossovers, and, of course, uniquely yummy taste means it’s well worth jetting off for.
Purchased Price: $7.29
Size: 7.5 oz cans/10 pack
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 24 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of fiber, and 0 grams of protein.