Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 92: What Happened to Caffeine-Free Diet Coke?

"Are the Coke folks trying to confuse us as they phase out Caffeine-Free Diet Coke?"

Though I have for the most part weaned myself off diet sodas, every once in awhile I get a serious hankering for a cold, crisp, ever-so-satisfying 20-ounce bottles of either Fresca or Caffeine-Free Diet Coke.

Is it just wishful thinking on my part, or is Fresca making a comeback? On two Delta flights this past weekend the flight attendants came down the aisle offering Fresca as one of the soft drink options. Thank you, Delta!

But even though Delta is based in Atlanta, Coke's corporate home (Fresca is also a Coke brand), Caffeine-Free Diet Coke was not being offered. And maybe it's just my paranoia, but I have noticed that CFDC is fast disappearing from deli shelves in New York City.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Coke's insidious campaign to stamp out CFDC started with the 20-ounce bottle label redesign. Its formerly distinctive completely brownish gold label has been morphed into a Diet Coke-like mostly silver label with just a few small areas of brownish gold.

When you add in Coke Zero's ubiquity can you blame me for thinking that Coke is not showing Caffeine-Free Diet Coke drinkers much love lately? So here's the fundamental question: Is it just me, or are the Coke folks trying to confuse us as they phase out Caffeine-Free Diet Coke?

The anecdotal evidence suggests that is exactly what's going on. Neither of the delis closest to Serious Eats HQ (including our beloved Brown Cup, which we sometimes use as our conference room) carries Caffeine-Free Diet Coke anymore. And the deli closest to the office that does carry it has more often than not been out of it the last month or so.

As my doctor had me swear off caffeine a few months ago, this situation concerns me a great deal. Because even though I am drinking more water and seltzer than ever before, sometimes only a Caffeine-Free Diet Coke will do.

Erin kindly went out and bought me a 2-liter bottle of Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi, but I am not a Diet Pepsi fan in general, so that doesn't really solve the problem. Plus, I have never seen CFDP in 20-ounce bottles in a deli cold case.

So what gives, Coke? Fess up. Just tell us what the deal is.

The Weigh-In

Though the week started with Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken and Cozy Corner Barbecue in Memphis, followed by a five-pizzeria evening in Chicago, I have managed to get back into a serious diet state of mind. Interim weigh-ins have been trending in the right direction.

Here we go: 217. Down three pounds from the hell week debacle. Hallelujah!