Cola revelation: Sugar tastes better than corn syrup

I’ve always wondered why soda doesn’t taste as good as it did when I was a kid. Today’s soft drinks seem too sweet and yet too bitter.

Now I know why. When my non-Jewish friends heard that Passover was coming up, they asked whether I could get some kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola. Passover Coke is made with sugar instead of corn syrup. The Torah prohibits Jews from eating foods made from leavened grains during Passover including wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats. For some picky religous reason that I still don’t comprehend, the sages expanded the list to include corn, which means no products made with corn syrup.

Passover Coke isn’t exactly easy to find in a highly Judaic area like Oregon. But a friend of ours traveled up to an Albertson’s supermarket in Portland that stocks kosher foods (thanks, Amy!) She returned with three bottles not of Coca-Cola, but a cola called “Beer Hayim” (Beer of Life, a name that many Americans would find appropriate).

My first sip of cola-with-sugar was disappointing. It tasted stronger, almost bitter, like the abomination known as diet cola (which incites an insurgency among my taste buds). But I drank a little more, and it tasted good. Very good. From deep within my gastronomical unconscious came a memory of the way soda tasted when I growing up in the 1970s

It was in the mid-1980s when soft drink makers like Coca-Cola and Pepsi switched from sugar to high-fructose corn syrup. Now the trend is reversing itself as the food industry switches back to sugar (whose price is still sky-high in America because of the Sugar Lobby). Some health experts say it doesn’t matter; corn syrup or sugar, all those sweet calories are why we’re America the Bellyful.

All I can say is, I prefer sugar-sweetened cola. From what I hear, you can also find it in Hispanic grocery stores that import it from Mexico. Gracias, I say, though my teeth say otherwise.

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4 Responses to Cola revelation: Sugar tastes better than corn syrup

  1. I can’t taste the difference between Pepsi and Pepsi Throwback (the all-sugar version.) If your tastebuds can discern the less-than-5% fructose difference between sugar Coke and corn syrup Coke in a blind taste test I’d be shocked.

  2. Michael Peck says:

    My friends thought they could taste the difference.

  3. This “Beer of Life” cola was different, but it would be unfair to make a straight-across comparison between different sodas. However, I too was reminded of a bottled Pepsi that I had many years ago, and I remember that Pepsi being better than any I have since tasted. I’ve never heard of “Pepsi Throwback.” I’ll have to scout some out now.

  4. Dan Cooper says:

    Justin St. Giles Payne, although what you state about the % difference in sugar makeup is true, with sucrose, as opposed to hfcs, fructose and glucose are locked up in a disaccharide, which has to be hydrolyzed by sucrase before it is truly fructose and glucose as separate molecules like in hfcs. So it’s apples to oranges until that happens, and I believe that happens in the small intestine.

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