REVIEW: New Coke (2019)

New Coke  2019

As an older millennial, born in 1985, I never quite know how I should think of the ‘80s. Am I an 80’s kid? On the one hand, I distinctly remember hiding my He-Man themed Slap Bracelet in my Transformers Trapper Keeper because some kid two towns over had allegedly accidentally slit his wrist with one. Further evidence: that Trapper Keeper would later be lugged home in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles duffle bag and the map on the classroom wall still had an ominous swath of red labeled “USSR” on it.

On the other hand, my ‘90s kids sense of ironic detachment says it’s kinda sad so many of my early memories are dominated by commercial properties. Plus, I only saw The Breakfast Club last week, and still haven’t seen Labyrinth.

Whether I’m a child of the ‘80s or not, there’s one relic from the era that I regret missing: New Coke. The soda always seemed to symbolize something essential about the ‘80s. It’s an updated, new take on a decade’s old classic, ready for the next generation and eager to face a hopeful future. Yet, it failed.

(‘90s kids says, “Dude, it’s just flavored sugar water, get over it and go live an authentic life!”)

Ever ready to capitalize on nostalgic desire, Netflix and Coca-Cola have collaborated on the Stranger Things 1985 Limited Edition Collector’s Pack featuring New Coke. Will trying it fill in some ineffable hole from my childhood? Let’s find out!

According to internet lore, New Coke was actually Coca-Cola’s attempt to replicate Pepsi’s sweeter tasting formula, which performed better in blind taste tests. You can thank my internal internet-obsessed ‘00s teen for that factoid.

New Coke  2019 2

So, this seems like a perfect opportunity to perform a comparison: New Coke vs. Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola Classic.

Before tasting, I gave each a quick sniff. Coke Classic has a very mild scent, with both Pepsi and New Coke being much sharper. As I taste each, this pattern remains. Coke Classic is less sweet, with a rounder flavor. New Coke and Pepsi are sweeter and have a more acidic bite. I can see how Pepsi would perform better in a taste test. It’s also more carbonated, so it’s more exciting to drink in the moment.

A bit more internet research reveals that cola flavor is actually a combination of vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus. The citrus element of Pepsi is supposedly more lemon-forward, with Coke Classic relying more on orange. This unverified and poorly sourced research conforms to what I already thought, and so I will believe it. I would bet the primary differences between New Coke and Coke Classic are that the former is sweeter with more lemon in its cola formulation.

New Coke  2019 3

Additionally, Coke Classic has some caramel flavor that’s lacking in Pepsi. If there’s a difference between New Coke and Pepsi, it’s that New Coke also has some of this caramel flavor.

It turns out there’s a reason they don’t make New Coke anymore. It doesn’t deliver anything that Pepsi doesn’t already, and Coca-Cola Classic is better than both. (Don’t @ me Pepsi fans. 2019 adult me doesn’t need to be dragged through the mud on social media.)

Purchased Price: $19.85 (Included in Stranger Things Collector’s Pack)
Size: 12 fl. oz. can
Purchased at: Cokestore.com
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates (includes 42 grams Added Sugars), 0 grams of fiber, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola

Orange Vanilla Coca Cola

What is Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola?

As the first new flavor of Classic Coca-Cola to be released stateside in over ten years, Orange Vanilla Coke sets itself apart by combining smooth vanilla and bright orange flavors with the cola’s nostalgic original blend.

How is it?

Let me set the record straight here: no flavor of Coca-Cola is terrible. The worst variation of Coke is still arguably better than anything Pepsi has ever put out. Even so, I can’t say this variation is unforgettable in the same way that some of Coke’s other products are.

Despite the drink’s creamsicle-like aroma, I thought the notes of orange and vanilla fell a bit flat on the flavor end of things. Although I could faintly detect both of them while downing my first bottle, they were no match against Coca-Cola’s distinct taste, and I felt they blended into the soda’s background a little too much for them to be the only thing setting this drink apart from Coke’s other offerings.

Orange Vanilla Coca Cola in Glass

The best way I can describe the flavor imbalance here is that it’s kind of like if you drank a glass of Orange Fanta and neglected to rinse out your cup before refilling it with Coke. You can still taste the Fanta, but it’s not the focus of what’s now in the cup, and it clearly tastes like something that wasn’t an original part of the soda.

Is there anything else you should know?

Although adding orange and vanilla to Coca-Cola sounds simple, the company spared no expense in testing this product before adding it into its official lineup. After being successfully test-marketed in Canada last summer, it’s been stuck in R&D to fine-tune its flavor and advertising campaign before hitting American shelves just in time for March Madness.

Conclusion:

While Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola isn’t going to rock the soda industry, it’s a decent enough addition to Coke’s family of Classics. I recommend giving it a shot if you happen to come across a bottle but don’t go out of your way to track one down.

Purchased Price: $3.33
Size: 6 16.9 oz. bottles
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (16.9 oz) 200 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of total carbohydrates, 55 grams of total sugars, 55 grams of added sugars, 0 grams of protein, and 0 grams of dietary fiber.

REVIEW: Diet Coke Blueberry Acai and Strawberry Guava

Diet Coke Blueberry Acai and Strawberry Guava

What are Diet Coke Blueberry Acai and Strawberry Guava?

After decades of merely fiddling with its Diet Coke lineup with the occasional vanilla, cherry, or lime addition, last year Coca-Cola let its food scientists run wild and released four new and exciting flavors aimed at the Millennial demographic. Diet Coke isn’t just for your mom anymore! Today, Coke adds two more: Blueberry Açaí and Strawberry Guava.

How are they?

Diet Coke Blueberry Acai and Strawberry Guava Cans

Both of these sodas have a strong fruity flavor, though I don’t taste much of the second listed fruit in either case. The Blueberry Açaí Diet Coke mostly tastes like blueberries, perhaps with some extra tanginess. It’s like how a fruit snack can somehow be more like its fruit flavor than the actual fruit itself.

Diet Coke Blueberry Acai and Strawberry Guava Closup

The Strawberry Guava Diet Coke mostly tastes like strawberries, though a bit mellowed in this case. It seems inadequate to say the guava adds a tropical flavor, but here we are, me having written the obvious and you having read it.

Is there anything else you need to know?

A confession: I know that readers rely on us at The Impulsive Buy to be your knowledgeable guides through the ever-changing culinary world, but I have to admit that I had no idea what açaí actually is. I don’t even know how to make that weird “c” thing (Thanks, spellcheck!)

Sure, it’s trendy, so I’ve eaten it in various bowls, smoothies, and other overpriced preparations, but what exactly is an acai? Google tells me that it’s a “small edible blackish-purple berry.” So it’s a blueberry. That explains why I could only taste the blueberry flavor in this soda. Or was I just tasting the açaí?

Conclusion:

If you’re a diet soda fiend like me, you’re always happy to have more options at hand. Man cannot live on Coke Zero alone. These two new additions may not be as exotic-tasting as their names suggest, but they’re tasty nonetheless.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 8-pack
Purchased at: Festival Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat,0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Festive Limited Edition Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Cinnamon (United Kingdom)

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Cinnamon

Update: Coca-Cola Cinnamon was rolled out in the U.S.! Click here to read our review.

What is the Festive Limited Edition Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Cinnamon?

Coca-Cola has introduced a new cinnamon-tinged variety of Coke Zero (excuse me – Coke Zero Sugar) – only during the holiday season and only in the UK.

How is it?

There was just a basic Coke aroma inside the bottle. No trace of cinnamon, which is unusual since I find most “flavored” items rely heavily on scent.

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Cinnamon 2

The first mouthful read “Coke Zero” for a good two seconds before the cinnamon announced itself. It was a good, middle-of-the-road cinnamon – present but not overbearing. I didn’t find it to be glaringly artificial, either. This wasn’t Pepsi Fire – it wasn’t bringing heat, just a mild spice, which I really appreciated.

Coke Zero Sugar Cinnamon would make a great party drink for teetotalers who want a little extra something besides the usual soft drinks, but it would also make a great base for cocktails. How about a rum and Coke Zero Cinnamon with a splash of orange liqueur? Call it a “Christmas Potpourri.” Or don’t, because that’s a terrible name for a beverage.

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Cinnamon 3

Is there anything else you need to know?

This might be a tough find. Released in October, it is only appearing until the end of December. It was already scarce in the city centers I visited in Scotland. I only saw it in one Tesco, after I’d half given up searching for it in about a dozen other groceries and convenience stores.

Editor’s Note: If you’re SUPER eager to try it, there are folks on eBay selling bottles for ten times the selling price, plus shipping.

Conclusion:

Coke Zero Cinnamon was a pretty good (temporary) addition to the Coke lineup – a mild and tasty cinnamon shot. I can’t see this as a year-round flavor, but I would certainly repurchase it during the holidays. It’s worth a try if you can get it. I hope it’s released stateside, but will we have to wait until next year?

Purchased Price: £1.25 (approximately $1.57 USD)
Size: 500 ml bottle
Purchased at: Tesco
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 250ml) 1 calorie, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of sugars, 0.03g salt
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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?

Coke Clr 3

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.