You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world where Coca-Cola hasn’t had an impact.
Founded in 1892, Coca-Cola is one of the largest companies on Earth and the single largest beverage company in the world.
Many people may not realize that not all Coke is the same.
Depending on what country you are in or even which region of a country you are in, Coca-Cola might has a slightly different taste.
While all Coca Cola is made with the same key ingredients (including their super-secret formula that is a closely guarded industry secret), regional varieties of Coke can taste different depending on the kind of sugar added and how the product is produced and bottled.
Of course, the story does not stop there. Coke products are different all over the world. So we are going to take a deep dive into this global company to see what makes them tick and the different kinds of Coke products they have produced.
Table of Contents
A Brief History of Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola originally got its start in 1885, a few years before the actual company was founded.
Coca-Cola was originally invented by a man named John Pemberton as a substitute for morphine-laced drinks meant for relaxation.
Pemberton originally sold his drink as a patent medicine meant for several maladies.
By the late 1880s, Coca-Cola was being sold in drugstores nationwide. A young pharmacist named Asa Griggs Candler purchased a stake in the popular medical elixir’s patent and in 1892, formed the Coca-Cola company.
In 1892, Chattanooga, TB became the site of the very first Coca-Cola production and bottling company.
Coke syrup was also sold as an OTC dietary supplement during this time.
In 1919, the company was bought for $25 million and reincorporated based out of Delaware.
This was the first time the company also started offering public shares.
By the 1920s-1930s, Coca-Cola had become an American Icon and was one of the most popular drinks during the prohibition period when alcohol sales were banned.
By 1944, the company had officially manufactured 1 billion gallons of the popular soft drink and canned Coke first popped up in 1955.
In the second half of the 20th century, Coca-Cola continued its dominance as the largest beverage company in the world. In 1985, the company released New Coke which was a variation of the classic formula.
The company faced intense public scrutiny for this new formula and continued manufacturing original Coke under the label Coca-Cola Classic. New Coke was discontinued in 2002 leaving classic Coke the only official brand.
However, recent years have been less favorable to the company. Medical studies linking soda consumption to a wide variety of medical conditions have caused Coke sales to hit a 30-year all-time low as of 2016.
Moreover, rising rates of obesity have caused many consumers to decrease their consumption of the popular beverage.
However, Coca-Cola is still one of the most profitable companies in the world with a current share price of $245.22, and has consistently raised dividend payouts for 58 consecutive years.
Why Did They Change Coke Zero?
Fans of Coca-Cola have probably heard of two other varieties of Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.
Diet Coke was first introduced in 1982 as a low-calorie version of the famous soft drink, and Coke Zero hit store shelves in 2005 for a similar purpose.
Many people may consider Coke Zero as a differently marketed version of Diet Coke, but this is not true. Coke Zero is a unique product with its own ingredients list, production history, and taste difference.
Coke Zero (also known as Coke Zero Sugar, Coca-Cola No Sugar, or whatever) has caused a lot of marketing and labeling controversies.
Most of these controversies were related to whether Coke Zero is bad for your health and whether the low-calorie soda really captured the great taste of the original recipe.
So let’s start at the beginning of the Coke Zero story. Coke Zero saw its origins in early attempts at diet soda. During the 60s and 70s.
Diet Coke was launched in 1982 in response to growing health concerns about the sugar and calorie content of original Coke.
Coke Zero was the next step in the process and was meant to be a no-calorie soda that did not compromise on taste.
Coke Zero was also originally marketed as a “manly” version of “feminine” Diet Coke.
There is a noticeable trend where men are averse to drinking Diet Coke because it is perceived as “girly” and less masculine.
So Coke Zero’s marketing campaign was clearly aimed at capturing the 20-30-something year old male demographic.
Coke Zero vs Diet Coke
The most obvious difference between Coke Zero and Diet coke is the taste.
Coke Zero was explicitly made to taste exactly like the original flavor, whereas Diet Coke was intentionally made with a different “lighter” flavor.
Coke Zero and Diet Coke also differ in the ingredients that they use. Diet Coke contains citric acid, which is used to create the characteristic tart flavor of sodas.
Coke Zero, in contrast, contains sodium citrate, a different molecule that is used for the same effect.
Coke Zero has been shown to be very popular with consumers. Coke Zero has continually cut into Diet Coke’s sales, so much so that execs at the company say that Coke Zero is “cannibalizing” Diet Coke’s market presence.
The main reason Coke Zero has done so well is due to taste. Most consumers agree that Coke Zero’s taste is superior to Diet Coke and it does not compromise on the flavor that made the classic blend such a national staple.
Coke Zero’s Secret Ingredients
One of Coca-Cola’s (and Coke Zeros) biggest mysteries is the secret ingredient.
According to the label, Coke Zero contains 9 ingredients: carbonated water, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium, caffeine, caramel color, and natural flavoring.
Most of these are fairly self-explanatory and are found in several other popular sodas like Pepsi or Dr. Pepper.
Currently, the secret formula is stored in a vault at SunTrust Bank in Atlanta, where it has been for nearly 100 years.
Several competitors have tried to copy the proprietary mixture, but to this day, no one really knows how, exactly, it’s made.
Coke Zero is also notable for containing no fats, sugars, proteins, calories, or minerals (except for potassium).
Keep in mind though that this does not mean that Coke Zero contains literally 0 of any of these.
Most of the time on food labelings, companies are allowed to put 0 if the actual amount is below a certain value, usually, between 0-0.5g.
So just because Coke Zero says 0 on the label, it does not mean that there really are no sugars or other ingredients.
Is Coke Zero Bad For You?
Part of the buzz surrounding Coke Zero is the claim that it is much healthier for you than original Coke.
- But is this true? Is
- Coke Zero really healthier than other kinds of Coke?
The first thing we should mention is how Coke Zero uses artificial sweeteners to get the flavors without any calories (.e.g aspartame).
There are quite a few studies on these kinds of artificial sweeteners and, while there is still not an established view, there are growing concerns among medical professionals about their effects on long-term health.
Specifically, there is some evidence that aspartame may reduce blood glucose tolerance levels and lead to higher rates of diabetes.
To be fair, this is what consuming too much cane sugar does too, so it’s not as if artificial sweeteners are worse for you than consuming too much cane sugar.
Some studies seem to suggest that artificial sweeteners can be neutral or beneficial for managing weight.
Coke Zero also contains as much caffeine as original Coke does and it is known that ingesting large quantities of caffeine can lead to insomnia, nervousness, irritability, frequent urination, muscle spasms, fast heartbeat, and digestion issues.
Caffeine also is known to not mix well with alcohol, which is important because many people use Coke Zero as a mixer for alcoholic beverages.
Consuming too much caffeine and alcohol at the same time can mask the intoxicating effects of alcohol and lead to severe alcohol-related problems.
Can Coke Zero Help Me Lose Weight?
A lot of people may think that drinking Coke Zero can help them lose weight.
The logic goes: “Coke Zero has 0 calories, Calories are what make you gain weight. Therefore, Coke Zero will help me lose weight by having 0 calories.”
However, as is the case with most things in nutrition, it’s not as simple as that. Drinking Coke Zero alone will not help you lose weight, because there is more to weight gain than just calories consumed.
First off, there is the fact that sugar and artificial sweeteners, which Coke Zero is full of, can reduce your insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps break down and regulate sugar levels in the blood.
When your body cannot produce insulin properly, then all that excess sugar is converted and stored as fat.
Several studies have shown that drinking high quantities of diet and low-calorie sodas can lead to metabolic syndromes that cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
Additionally, there is good reason to think that drinking no-calorie sodas conditions your taste receptors and makes you feel like you can eat and drink more.
People feel like drinking zero-calorie sodas gives them a free pass to eat other things during the day so they may overeat to compensate.
Also, drinking diet sodas like Coke Zero might change the way your body metabolizes sugar so it is less efficient and leaves you hungry even after you drink large amounts.
A lot of these effects have to do with the psychology of weight gain just as much as metabolic factors.
Drinking Coke Zero might make people feel like they are doing enough to help them lose weight. As such they may be less likely to change other dietary habits or increase the amount of exercise they get.
What About 1 Coke Zero a Day?
As with most foods, it’s not so much about what you eat but about how frequently and how much you eat.
Drinking 1 Coke Zero a day probably will not kill you, but ultimately it is not the best decision for your health.
It can be tough to stop drinking soda all the time because the caffeine and sweeteners can be somewhat addictive.
But if you feel like one can of soda per day is still too much, then cut down your intake to one every other day, or maybe even one can per 3 days.
Does Coca-Cola Hydrate You?
It is a common saying that sodas like Coca-Cola are bad for hydration because they contain sodium and sodium dehydrates the body.
However, the actual science on the matter paints a different picture.
A 2016 study in the American Journal of Nutrition tested the relative hydration potential of several common drinks such as water, milk, orange juice, and soda.
According to the study, soda is actually just as hydrating as water, common beliefs to the contrary.
It is true that sodas like Coke contain sodium and caffeine which are both known diuretics.
However, Coca-Cola does not contain either substance in large enough quantities to make a real difference to your hydration.
Of course, that does not mean that you should be drinking Coca-Cola when you are working out.
Coke still contains various sugars and other ingredients which can decrease your exercise performance and lead to other issues.
But, if you are feeling slightly dehydrated through your normal day, then a cold Coke is just as effective as a glass of water for regular hydration.
Which is the “Healthiest” Coca-Cola to Drink?
To be clear, no Coca-Cola product can be considered ubiquitously “healthy”, but some versions may be better for you than other kinds.
If you are just going by carbohydrate, calorie, and sugar content, then Coke Zero seems to be the best choice as far as nutrition and taste go.
Coke Zero contains 0 calories, 0 sugars, and a negligible amount of minerals. Coke Zero is also generally considered to have a better taste than Diet Coke, although Diet Coke similarly has no calories and no sugars.
So if you are a Coke fiend but want to watch what you are putting in your body, Coke Zero seems to be your best bet.
Keep in mind that this does not mean that Coke Zero is “healthy” by any means, or healthier than other common beverages like milk, coffees, water, or tea.
But switching from regular Coke to Coke Zero can be a way to start working on a better low-calorie diet.
Healthy Alternatives to Coke Zero and Coca-Cola
Again, no soda is really healthy for you in all the important ways, but some are definitely more healthy for you than others.
Here are a couple of Coca-Cola soda alternatives that are known for being more healthy choices.
Zevia is a low-calories soda that uses stevia as its sweetener. Stevia is similar to other artificial sweeteners except it comes from a plant and does not seem to have any negative effects on blood sugar levels.
Like Coke Zero, one can of Zevia contains zero calories, no sugars, no protein, and no carbohydrates. Zevia also contains tartaric acid and citric acid.
Many people claim that Zevia has a slightly bitter “tinny” aftertaste so Coke Zero may still beat it on flavor.
Steaz is an interesting tea + soda combination that is made from organic green tea that is fair trade certified. Steaz is known for having few calories but a lot of flavors.
A single can of Steaz contains about 50-90 carbs, depending on the flavor, and has no fats, proteins, or carbohydrates.
Steaz also uses stevia as a natural flavoring which is better for you than artificial sweeteners because it does not affect blood sugar levels.
Veri Soda is an organic and synthetic-chemical free soda that is made with natural cane sugar mixed with stevia leaves. Veri does contain actual sugar and each can has about 60 calories.
A single can of Veri Soda also contains about 15g of carbohydrates which, while not ideal, is much better than several other popular sodas out there like Pepsi or Mountain Dew.
Blue Sky is an all-natural soda company that uses stevia as a sweetener instead of cane sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Blue Sky has been around since the 80s and has gotten pretty popular as soda drinkers are trying to become more health-conscious.
A single can contains 432 g of carbs and 43 grams of sugar, so this is not a soda that you want to be drinking every day.
But if you are looking for a good alternative to Coca-Cola that is made with 100% natural ingredients, the Blue Sky is a good choice.
Coca-Cola is one of the largest companies in the world and for good reason.
Since its founding in 1892, Coke has become an American staple and the brand is the single largest beverage company in the world.
People often say that even if two countries have nothing else in common, the thread that binds them is Coca-Cola.
Two countries may have different languages, currencies, religions, and cultural traditions, but you can bet that they both know what Coca-Cola is.
Coke also has produced several alternative versions to appeal to those who want a more healthy and low-calorie soda.