Coke Zero Was A Bullcrap Drink From The Beginning

Coke Zero Was A Bullcrap Drink From The Beginning

As you’ve no doubt noticed, Coke Zero is no longer a thing, replaced with a nearly identical drink that has nearly identical packing and a nearly identical ingredients list. Its replacement, Coke Zero Sugar, is a bullcrap drink, but Coke Zero was a bullcrap drink too.

Photo by Denise Sebastian.

Now, I’m not saying Coke Zero is bad. I’m drinking a bottle of it as I write this. But it has no reason to exist.

Coca-Cola only created Coke Zero in the first place because Diet Coke was too girly. Here’s how the Baltimore Sun reported on Coke Zero’s launch in 2005:

Still, Coca-Cola Zero is carefully avoiding labelling itself as diet. Its marketing is geared to a demographic, such as young people and the most macho of men, who see a stigma attached to the word diet.

“We made a point of not calling it diet,” said Scott Williamson, a Coca-Cola spokesman. “There are a group of folks out there, primarily young adults, who for a lot of reasons, some taste, some brand personality, won’t drink diet sodas. They may not like them because of the taste or stigma attached to the word ‘diet.'”

It’s entirely a marketing gimmick. Diet Coke was actually born of the same market factors, because Tab (Coke’s cola-flavoured diet drink in the US) had too much of that “woman on a diet” stigma.

Any time you re-brand a drink, you have an opportunity to change the flavour and so Diet Coke tasted a little better than Tab. Coke Zero and Diet Coke are slightly different: the latter uses aspartame, while the former uses a mix of aspartame and acesulfame potassium. (These are both no-kilojoule sweeteners and before you ask, neither one is going to kill you.)

Some people say they prefer Coke Zero to Diet Coke, but be honest: by the second sip, all you’re thinking is “mmm black fizzy water”. Coke Zero Sugar is supposedly reformulated, but the ingredients list is identical to Coke Zero.

Most likely they have tweaked the “natural flavours” component and that’s it. So the death of Coke Zero and the launch of all-new Coke Zero Sugar are bullcrap marketing events. But in the land of diet drink marketing, that’s nothing new.


  • Coke zero may be crap. But sugar free is worse. Coke sugar free is the drink that no one asked for. It’s coke life all over again

  • Well I like Coke Zero and I am more than miffed that it is going. The new Coke Sugar-Free is terrible and, yes, it is like that new coke thing again we had some years ago. Coke Zero is clearly selling well. At least at the Coles shop I shop at every week – so I can’t see the problem. Any idea of the shelf-life of Coke Zero? I might buy a few cartons to store until they replace Sugar-free with Coke Zero again.

    • “Any idea of the shelf-life of Coke Zero?”

      Be careful, artificial sweeteners have a life span. I bought a box of no-sugar cola (maybe Pepsi, I can’t remember) and it tasted flat. It was still carbonated, I could see heaps of bubbles, but it tasted flat nevertheless. Me being me, I wrote a letter to the company, complaining about it. They answered me by saying that as the drinks get closer to the ‘best by’ date, the molecules of the artifical sweeteners unbond, causing the flat taste. This may or may not be accurate, I’m no scientist. All I know is they sent me an apology and a $20 voucher for my time.

  • And yet Coles and Woolworths both agree with the sales… the new American sugarfree crap isnt selling, yet zero still walks off the shelf.

  • I’m a diabetic so I drink bullcrap.
    I was happy with Coke Zero but fortunately the new stuff tastes alright.
    I read that Coca Cola polled some Americans who didn’t know that Coke Zero is sugar free.
    I thought Coca Cola was being over sensitive and hasty in changing the product based on this survey, probably a change in the advertising is all it needed.
    My worry is that the company kills off something that was doing well, if the replacement doesn’t sell well, they might drop both products.

  • Diet Coke is too girly because it was heavily marketed that way. If it’s become such a problem then they only have itself to blame.

  • Coke Zero was 0 calories. Diet Coke has *some* calories. That was the main reason I started drinking Zero instead of Diet.

  • Coke original taste is the gold standard.
    Diet coke couldn’t quite get it right with the sweetener used, so they made a drink that tastes good with that sweetener but is still close to coke.
    Coke Zero was much, much closer to the original coke taste with a different sweetener that allowed this.

      • It always come back to the aftertaste for me. Diet drinks have always had that odd aftertaste that stops me from taking another sip.

        I find the No Sugar variety a lot better on that front which means they are definitely getting better at tweaking their product to make it taste as much like the original as they can.

    • I tried the Coke with Stevia (Coke Life?) and thought it’s taste was closer to “real” coke than the diet variants though still not right.

      I wish they’d take the same approach as the Real Iced Tea Company where they have a normal, low sugar and no sugar version. The low sugar has about half the sugar of the regular one but still tastes pretty good, just not as sweet obviously. You just can’t say that about the various diet cokes. It’s not that they’re less sweet they taste, different.

  • “but be honest: by the second sip, all you’re thinking is “mmm black fizzy water””
    While I disagree with this statement, I also very much think the first sip is the one I care most about, and the first sip of Coke No Sugar is much worse than the first sip of Coke Zero.

    • That brings up an interesting point. Taste testing has you try a sip of a bunch of different ones and choose the best. But when you actually drink it, you are not having one sip. This ended up with some early, not great formulations.

  • If you think Coke Zero and Coke No Sugar tastes the same, you are objectively wrong.

    Once Coke Zero runs out, I’m moving to Pepsi Max.

  • Coke Zero was the only Coke variety I could stand the taste of so now it’s going I guess I am going Coke free. Probably a good thing.

  • The blogger’s opinion wasn’t true months ago, and it isn’t true now.

    Coke Zero tastes far better than that fake sugar crap.

  • I have been a long time coke drinker…the difference between zero and diet coke is night and day no matter how many sips I have diet coke is just foul can’t stand it…to be honest I’m actually glad coke decided to scrap coke zero since that news broke I’ve ceased drinking any sort of coke product and only drink water coffee or green tea

  • Coke Zero tasted like crap but that new Coke No Sugar is 100 x worse.
    I have always prefered Diet Coke.

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