At significant risk of giving a multinational corporation publicity it does not need – please feel free to Google oligopoly markets after reading this piece – I am going to extol the virtues of a long-term love: Diet Coke. Someone has to, given Cristiano Ronaldo’s rejection of the drink in a Euro 2020 press conference and a recent plummet in its share price.
There are two types of people: those who can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, and those whose taste buds are clearly compromised. Confusing the two is basically like downing a glass of red and proclaiming: “Love a sauvignon blanc!”
I almost certainly started drinking Coca-Cola products too young, my gateway drug being regular Coca-Cola. Now I can’t abide the stuff – it feels as I imagine it would to brush one’s teeth with sugar. But Diet Coke? Someone could make a lot of money opening a rehab clinic.
That exultant hiss of freed fizz is merry music indeed. The pretty patterns of the bubbles rising to the surface. The exquisite tingle on the tongue.
There is a hierarchy of receptacles. I maintain that Diet Coke tastes better from a glass bottle, poured over crushed ice. A recyclable (and teeth‑preserving) straw added to the mix. Next is the pop of a cool can straight from the fridge, diamonds of condensation glittering on silver.
Plastic bottles are out. Not only because (science backs me up here) the chemicals that make up the plastic are capable of contaminating the flavour of the drink, but also because the warmer the beverage, the more CO2 escapes. The heart sinks when one orders Diet Coke at a festival, then spies a two-litre bottle with the flat three inches of liquid languishing at the bottom.
I have cut down on Diet Coke a lot in the past few years. I now consist almost entirely of tap water, Earl Grey tea and cognac, but that gives the DC an extra pleasurable edge when indulging. I can’t agree that aspartame rots the brain, given that my intelligence is clearly off the scale (yesterday I laughed for a solid 20 minutes at someone emulating the waddle of a duck), but I get that it’s probably not the healthiest thing in the world. Please join me in raising a glass, though, to the greatest soft drink there is.
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