QUICK REVIEW: Coca-Cola Clear (Japan)

Coke Clr

What is Coca-Cola Clear?

I’m in Japan – the mecca of novelty junk food! Of course, I sought out some new and quirky offerings. Coca-Cola has introduced a colorless version of its signature pop – trailing a quarter of a century behind Pepsi in the clear soda arms race. Without all that pesky caramel-y cola, it’s billed as lemon-flavored and is a zero-calorie drink. It is currently only available in Japan.

How is it?

Right out of the bottle, the aroma veers away from the usual Coke. It’s milder with a low-level citrus smell.

Coke Clr 2

I was expecting something with a strong lemon taste, ala Sprite or 7Up, but this was subtler – like squeezing a lemon wedge into your already-sweet seltzer water and adding a dash of cola. Despite the lemon base, it was identifiable as a Coke derivative and had the same sweeteness level, but was lighter and brighter than regular Coca-Cola. It didn’t have the neon citrus feel of other sodas.

While not unpleasant, Coca-Cola Clear failed to establish its own flavor personality. Hence, it’s easier to describe what it ISN’T – it’s not cola, it’s not un-cola. Because of this vagueness of character, I wondered why this? Why now? Is 2018 the right time just because Coke hadn’t done it yet?

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Is there anything else you need to know?

Be prepared for the pop. The Coke products I sampled in Japan were packaged in a way that caused the initial rush of gasses out of the bottles to be downright explosive. My travel companion and I startled each other all week with the loud cracks of Coke bottles opening.

Conclusion:

Overall, an OK lightly lemon soda, but as Dr. Ian Malcolm would say – Coca-Cola scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. Try it if you’re a hardcore noveltyist, but only one bottle.

Purchased Price: 48 yen (approx. 69 cents US)
Size: 500 ml bottle (17 oz.)
Purchased at: MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya, Tokyo
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (100 ml) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of total sugars and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, Ginger Lime, Twisted Mango, and Zesty Blood Orange

Diet Coke Feisty Cherry Ginger Lime Twisted Mango and Zesty Blood Orange

Diet soda drinkers are not exactly a fickle lot. Some people swear by Diet Pepsi without aspartame. Others with aspartame. Tab people are still kicking it like it’s 1985 and any true Texan wouldn’t be caught dead with a Mr. Pibb Zero over Diet Dr Pepper.

Which is all to say that Coke’s decision to launch a new flavored Diet Coke line is a bit of a head-scratcher.

As a diet soda drinker myself, I can understand the dividing lines of low-calorie beverages. We’re creatures of habit; obsessive compulsives; generally curmudgeonly and resistant to change. Also, we’re all going to get cancer and metabolic disorder and blah blah blah BUT STILL we’re willing to at least try a new diet soda, especially with the help of some (relatively) exotic names.

I love most orange-flavored things. However, unlike my childhood hero Kel Mitchell, I’m not crazy about the taste of orange soda, which lacks the body of a cola. Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange cures all that; the orange flavor is robust but not bitter, lingering on as a component of the aftertaste but not stripping the soda of its cola roots. Why it took Coke this long to use orange as a flavor in a bottled or canned soda, I have no idea. But I’m happy it’s finally here.

I don’t know what twisted is supposed to convey as an adjective. Perverse? Physically contorted? Changed ever-so-slightly from the original intent that the word is basically meaningless? The last one seems to be the case when it comes to the taste of Twisted Mango. Meaningless adjectives aside, this is a good soda. Crisp, fruity but not overly tropical, with a sweeter finish than traditional Diet Coke, it just works. I can see Diet Coke with Lemon fans liking this one, which has a good mix of conservative Diet Coke appeal and unique flavor.

Moving right along, Feisty Cherry seems like a weird name for a soda. A 90s pop-rock artist or Kentucky Derby horse? Okay, I can see that. But a soda? Not really. In any event, the flavor comes across as a slightly muted black cherry, but it never really overcomes the carbonation. Where there was a distinct sweetness with Zesty Blood Orange, Feisty Cherry has a more traditional Diet Coke aftertaste, which I guess can be either a good or and thing depending on your preferences. Personally, I found it a less suitable imitator to Diet Cherry Dr Pepper, which I’m allowed to say because of the two years I lived in Texas.

Ginger Lime should have been the most exotic tasting flavor, but instead of some piquant and spicy flavor, it tastes like Diet Coke watered down with a generic (read: not Canada Dry) ginger ale. Not that I’m complaining, but the lack of ginger ale crossover makes this a disappointment.

Diet soda drinkers are not exactly a fickle lot, and because of that, I’m not sure how well received the new Diet Coke flavors will be, especially when Feisty Cherry and Ginger Lime fail to deliver on their aggressive names.

However, maybe that’s the point.

Since Diet Coke drinkers default back to the standby of Diet Coke, the generally non-offensive flavors probably won’t turn anyone off. That said, at least with the exception of Blood Orange, I doubt they’ll turn anyone on.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 0 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 160 milligrams of potassium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.68
Size: 12-pack (12 oz. cans)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Blood Orange)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Ginger Lime)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Feisty Cherry)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Twisted Mango)
Pros: Blood Orange has a crisp, sweet finish that tastes like a natural addition to traditional Diet Coke. Twisted Mango brings a tropical flavor to cola without overdoing it. Varied spectrum of flavors for those who don’t have access to a Coke Freestyle machine.
Cons: Aside from Blood Orange, flavors don’t necessarily wow you. Feisty Cherry tastes mostly like Diet Coke with Cherry. Ginger Lime fails to deliver the long-expected ginger ale-cola hybrid. Curmudgeonly Diet Coke drinkers.