Confession: I Like Coke Zero

Jed Portman

I was a teenage cashier in the main cafeteria at Texas A&M University. And that's a story in itself. But it's relevant here because that's where I first tried Coke Zero.

See, I've never much liked Coca-Cola Classic. I grew up in a family with pretty good eating habits, and about the only thing I took from that, fortunately, was a distaste for anything too sticky-sweet. Back at Texas A&M, though, the hours were long, the work was slow, and I needed a cold pick-me-up to get me through the dinner rush. The diet drinks in our soda fountain tasted too artificial, and the full-flavored sodas were too sweet.

But Coke Zerothat struck a balance. It's an odd drink, Coke Zero, made to satisfy an apparently influential group of diet-soda drinkers who don't like the taste of Diet Coke. Caring not at all about calories, I drink it for the same reason my dad waters down his orange juice. It tastes like diluted Coke, with a little bitbut not too muchcaramel sweetness and no headache-inducing sugar rush. It's refreshing. And caffeinated, of course.

I have taken some flak for drinking Coke Zero. You don't want to let the guys in a restaurant kitchen catch you with a diet soda, but sometimes a long, hot day in the kitchen is just what brings on the craving. It looks just like Coca-Cola in glass, but God forbid the line cooks figure you out. It takes a lot of whiskey shots and cigarettes (which, luckily, I like even more than Coke Zero) to get your reputation back after that.

Almost everyone drinks Coke Classic, and plenty of my friends and family drink Diet Coke, but I don't know many Coke Zero drinkers. Since we're all confessing our soda secrets around here, tell me: Anybody else like a cold Coke Zero from time to time?