Sprite: Sugar vs. High Fructose Corn Syrup
I’ve been seeing bottled Coke-a-Cola from Mexico in stores more and more recently. I had heard people talk about how it tastes better because they use real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. It sounded interesting, but I hate Coke . . . and all brown colored colas for that matter. Coke, Pepsi, Root Beer, Dr. Pepper, knock off brands of any of these, I hate them all. But when I was in the store last week I saw that bottled versions of Sprite were stocked, so I bought a bottle and then went to get the 2 liter plastic-corn-fruit-sugar version as well for a comparison.
Here they are in their glory. The glass bottle contains .355 liters and cost $.99. The plastic bottle is your standard 2 liter and cost $1.30.
I examined the labels to see if there were any differences other than the sweetener. Nope, everything else is exactly the same.
I labeled two cups with a magic marker and poured the different versions. I did this so that the drinking experience would be equal (some people prefer drinking from the bottle or cup) and so my wife Chelsea wouldn’t know which was which. The glass bottle was now empty. I was a little disappointed that .355 liters is only one full glass. I took the cups to Chelsea and had her drink from each.
Not only could Chelsea tell the difference, but she identified the “normal” version immediately. She said she preferred it to the sugar version.
I personally prefer the sugar sweetened Sprite over the corn-syrup version. I found that it was more crisp and light and felt that the sweetness and flavors were two different things, one complementing the other. The corn-syrup Sprite felt very thick, heavy, and hard to drink. It felt more like lemon-lime flavored corn-syrup than corn-syrup sweetened lemon-lime soda. I should say, however, that I am not a big pop drinker. I don’t usually like the way pop tastes or feels. The carbonation is hard on my throat and rather unpleasant most of the time. While the sugar sweetened Sprite was much less harsh on my throat, and tasted vastly superior to the corn-syrup version, it’s very expensive. If I were a regular pop drinker I couldn’t see myself justifying the price difference. 2 liters of sugar sweetened Sprite would cost $5.50. vs. the $1.30 I spent for the corn-syrup bottle.
The real surprise came last night. I thought my experiment had ended, with me concluding that corn-syrup Sprite kinda sucks and that sugar sweetened Sprite was too expensive. But as I was walking through the store I walked by the bottles and found myself picking up another one. For someone who drinks pop as seldom as I do (I’ll have it at a BBQ every now and then and I only drink water at restaurants), this was surprising. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not a big pop drinker that a rare splurge on a more expensive pop feels justifiable, or maybe the Sprite is just that good that I find the thought of drinking it pleasant enough to buy it.