Just last month, Coca-Cola announced it was unveiling new recipes of its Diet Coke line, and half the Diet Cokeheads I knew grabbed for their chests and exclaimed, “It’s the big one, I’m comin’ to join ya honey!” Fortunately, their beloved Diet Coke wasn’t being tinkered with; Coca-Cola was adding four fruit flavors to Diet Coke and serving it up in tall cans. (For fans of Diet Coke’s original cherry and lime flavors, those are still sold—albeit online only.)
Here’s my issue: While my favorite beverage in the world is a Coca-Cola Classic in a glass with ice and a squeeze of lemon, I am decidedly not a fan of Diet Coke. There’s a very specific cloying taste that screams fake sugar to me, and it’s a flavor I can’t shake. But perhaps these four new fruit flavors could hide that aspartame aftertaste, enough to offer a beverage with zero calories that I’d actually find satisfying to kick back. I shall approach this with an open mind and open maw.
Upon first contact with the palate, you get that earthy tingle of ginger but barely any lime. On subsequent tastes, you taste less and less ginger, until it’s overwhelmingly of Diet Coke. Maybe my mind’s tricking me, but after a half dozen gulp, I can’t discern ginger and/or lime whatsoever. This is the one to drink for Diet Cokeheads who don’t want to stray far from the mothership.
Pour this in a glass and inhale: There’s a very forward aroma—not of mango the fruit but mango candy. Upon sipping, you can detect the vanilla qualities of the cola, but also present is a smooth, pronounced aftertaste of generic tropical fruit. It tastes the most artificial of the four new offerings.
What’s interesting is Coca-Cola’s choice of using “zesty”—because you definitely detect a pepperiness. This resembles vaguely of Diet Coke; it’s a less intensely sweet Orange Crush.
For someone like me who doesn’t enjoy the artificial qualities of Diet Coke, this flavor is a okay fallback. It tastes closest to a sugared soda, essentially Diet Dr. Pepper, which itself tastes similar to regular Dr. Pepper. There’s nothing Diet Cokey about this flavor at all, which is fine by me.