05 Feb2006

Diet Coke / Coke Light

by Marketman

I have been experiencing near technical meltdown, hence the erratic posts. coke1First we had horrendous service from ZPDEE and finally fired them after weeks of inexplicably pathetic service and even more pathetic responses from their staff. If not for the brilliant help of two computer experts plus my wife who have come to my rescue, I probably would have given up… We are now using PLDT DSL and I have finally switched to wireless mode at home and can now post entries from the garden, bedroom or herb garden for all of you to see. In addition, the number of hits to Marketmanila.com has grown steadily and I have apparently run out of bandwidth, whatever that means, so there have been blackouts or glitches that I do not and will not ever understand. I simply have to buy more bandwidth, I am told. So this has just been too taxing on Marketman and what little hair I have left not only turned white this past week but mostly fell off. And this is supposed to be a relaxing endeavor? So since I was in an ornery mood all weekend, I figure I should re-start posts with a rant on Diet Coke…

I am a Diet Coke (Coke Light to others) addict. I love the way the bubbles tickle your coke2palate on their way down. I love its deep caramel color and distinctive artificial “bouquet.” The way it is “sweetish” without being cloying. I like the hit of caffeine and for me, it is a daily must. However, in the past few weeks, the price of a can of Diet Coke in the grocery has risen from P13.5 to about PHP17.30 or a whopping increase of 28%!!! The increase seems a bit excessive as it is neither contraband, it is only slightly affected by VAT and aluminum prices and royalties for the secret formula have dropped 10% as the peso has strengthened. There is no shortage of artificial sweetener and I understand they might even use well water in Laguna to make the stuff… Since I drink up to 8 cases of the stuff, this increase means PHP700 more per month for a concoction of caramel, water, caffeine, coloring and fizz. That savings would allow me to upgrade my bandwidth to at least two levels up! I did some quick calculations, and realized I could save 50-60% if I just switched to drinking Coke Light from the 1.5 liter plastic bottles and promptly bought 2 cases of plastic bottles.

Back home, I twisted open a bottle and poured myself a tall glass of Coke Light with ice cubes. One gulp and I nearly spat it out…it was quite disgusting! I can definitely tell blindfolded what came out of a can and what came out of a bottle. I kid you not. The canned version is fizzier and appears to be less “sweetish” tasting. The bottled version is flat and cloying. It is only slightly better than the fastfood store version that is nearly undrinkable and often tastes of horrendous plastic cups and the chemicals they are made out of. And our local canned Diet Coke version appears to taste different again from say a U.S. can of coke. Frankly, I am perturbed by this lack of consistency from a company that I have given so much of my money to over the past 40 years. And the things I have done to get Coke (since I dislike Pepsi that much) into certain hotels and restaurants is material for another separate post! Two thumbs and toes down on Coca-Cola, San Miguel and whomever else is responsible for this current state of affairs. Since I am addicted, I am not going to take any radical action other than to drink about 30% less of the stuff as my sign of protest. I gave up Diet Coke for lent once and it was harder than the year I gave up rice…



  1. Chris says:

    I still prefer Coke regular to Coke light. Drinking the light version does nothing for me, it’s like drinking water! Or worse, it sometimes gives me sugar craving. Strange, isn’t it?

    Bottled Coke always tastes flat and has a slightly disagreeable mouthfeel. Maybe it’s due to the way they’re handled- loaded onto open trucks exposed to sunlight.

    Feb 5, 2006 | 4:07 pm


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  3. wysgal says:

    Agree with you that the bottle and can Coke Light taste different. Why don’t you like Pepsi? Diet Pepsi is slightly sweeter and a little bit smoother (Coke has a slight bite to it) — and it’s a good peso cheaper than Coke.

    Any idea by the way why they renamed it “Coke Light” for the South East Asian Market? I thought it was a global thing because of some strange court case in the USA, but I got strange looks when I tried to order “Coke Light” outside Asia.

    Feb 5, 2006 | 4:16 pm

  4. tulip says:

    If Im not mistaken, Coke has increase its selling price because a new team is taking over managing San Miguel. The Sy’s are part owner now, and took over some high post. Coca Cola had loss its sales in the previews years. I know this because we used to order Coca Cola products twice a week for our restaurants. Coca Cola management had changes. The employees were revamped too, well I think some employees have some illegal distributions of the products.
    Anyways, now Pepsi is our supplier.hehehe. Its really smoother, I think.

    Feb 5, 2006 | 4:42 pm

  5. Carlo says:

    Hmm, I can’t stand diet coke/coke light and drink regular Coke only. Pepsi…hate that stuff as well. I do agree that the canned version tastes much better than the bottled one.

    Feb 5, 2006 | 5:33 pm

  6. lori says:

    Since I hardly drink soda, it’s easy for me to tell you to just “give it up” — you’ll save money AND your teeth. But since you’re addicted to it, I guess the day you’d give it up is the day I give up dessert. Not a chance in hell of that ever happening! :p

    Feb 5, 2006 | 6:34 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    Chris, like you, I was a hardcore Coke (Regular) addict for 25 years, but I had to switch to control calorie intake. It took me a while to get used to the Diet Coke, but since making the switch I have never looked back. If I happen to have a regular Coke now, I find it incredibly sweet though I loved it for 25 years… Wysgal, the non-Pepsi thing goes back eons. I do occasionally have Diet Pepsi now in the PAL lounge or on their flights since Lucio ain’t a fan of Danding so he doesn’t serve Coke products… but I did turn down a headhunters enquiries once for a serious Pan-Asian job for a softdrink company when I pressed for the name and said I couldn’t brink my diet coke into Pepsi offices and the headhunter thought I had lost my marbles…but admitted the client was indeed Pepsi! Tulip, I hope Coke has done its homework because they may experience a seirous drop in revenue. I think I will try to drink water more often, but not one owned by San Miguel… Hmmm, I have been sitting on a poll feature and maybe this is the time to check Coke vs. Pepsi and diet vs. not… Lori, I have few vices in life and soda is one of them… but having less of it is a wise idea…

    Feb 5, 2006 | 6:45 pm

  8. bianot says:

    Interesting post! Our family is Anti-Pepsi because of the evil 349 fiasco of the early 90s. We’ve refused to drink Pepsi ever since as a matter of principle. He he.

    I drink Coke light, the rare/not so rare times I eat fastfood/spaghetti. You just need the soda.

    wysgal: did u know that it’s called Coca Light in some parts of europe (for sure France and Switzerland)? So that label isn’t only for SEAsia. My guess is ‘diet’ has all sorts of negative connotations. For me diet-something is synonymous to un-tasty.

    Feb 5, 2006 | 10:29 pm

  9. spanx says:

    g’day MarketMan!

    Vanilla Coke has been taken off the market. that was my favorite variant after Coke Light (and yes, ONLY in CANS!!!)

    btw, just wanted to personally thank you for a stimulating weekend spent reading practically all of your posts.

    i’ve been sharing/promoting your blog with all my foodie friends and relatives all over the world (with proper acknowledgements, of course). that might account for at least some of your increased number of hits.

    so, this Capampangan fan would like to ask:

    when are you going to write about the Pride of Pampanga, SISIG?

    I may have missed it, but I failed to come across a post about the “new national pulutan”. and yes, Sisig goes great with Coke, light or otherwise.

    do drop me a note whenever you want a Sisig Tour of Angeles-San Fernando!!

    Feb 6, 2006 | 12:42 am

  10. spanx says:


    my computer must have been on the blink earlier. I found your sisig post already, too bad you don’t like the stuff!

    however, your readers may want to try MELY’s along MacArthur Highway in San Fernando. best darn sisig. period.

    Feb 6, 2006 | 2:05 am

  11. schatz says:

    we call it coke light here…
    I drink it every now and then
    but since I have moved around Europe I could tell that each country has different sugar level consistency…Swedish coke light seems to be a lot sweeter than what we get here in Athens.

    Feb 6, 2006 | 8:09 am

  12. Frayed says:

    I’m a former coca-cola addict. When I was a kid, I was so addicted, my dad limited my coke days to wed and saturdays. Funnily enough, the weaning from Coke made me lose my desire for it. I think that was my body telling me it was happy bring weaned & cleaned. I think, the more you drink, the more you want. I’ve given up sodas ages ago and drink mainly water (Ok, and wine). If you google the dangers of aspartame (& sugar), and see how diet coke contains all these chemicals like formaldehyde,etc. it could help get you turned off. Hope I’m not sounding too preachy. I guess we are all entitled to a few vices.

    Feb 6, 2006 | 8:13 am

  13. Frayed says:

    Sorry. Meant BEING weaned & cleaned. TYpo.

    Feb 6, 2006 | 8:14 am

  14. Sassy says:

    Time to get a dedicated server? Ha ha ha

    Feb 6, 2006 | 8:22 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Sassy, hahaha is right, if I didn’t know better, a dedicated server is a personal waiter or butler…heeheehee. Frayed, you are right, I have heard all the bad stuff on soda but figure it is better than cigarettes or excessive alcohol…I really do need to cut back…I prefer the name Diet Coke as I like to call a spade a spade. Coke light is midleading. Empty Coke might be more accurate… Spanx, thanks for visiting the site and letting your friends know about it!

    Feb 6, 2006 | 8:47 am

  16. acidboy says:

    …and the least thing they could do is bring that lemon coke light variant! btw, mm, i got to go inside their sta rosa plant… you could rest easy with the deep well water, but man, you should smell the factory when they make softdrinks… a gas station toilet smells better!

    Feb 6, 2006 | 8:50 am

  17. santos. says:

    “up to 8 cases…”

    a day???

    Feb 6, 2006 | 10:44 am

  18. Marketman says:

    Santos, silly, I mean a month…or about 6-7 a day…scary, no?

    Feb 6, 2006 | 10:54 am

  19. R & C says:

    We just recently got a new Coke product called ‘Coke Zero’ here in Oz. It’s sugar free but tastes sweeter that Diet Coke and more like regular Coke. Personally I’m fine with normal diet or, even better, Diet Coke with Vanilla. Keep an eye out for ‘Coke Zero” though.

    Feb 6, 2006 | 12:07 pm

  20. kulasa says:

    I’m a Coke regular drinker. But the plastic ones taste really different. The glass bottled ones are really better. I even think that the smaller the bottle the more stronger it gets but I still prefer the ones in cans. I’ve heard so many stories about the bottles not being cleaned to well – you just have to take a little peak and see it there is something mysterious floating inside before you take a gulp (yuk).

    Feb 6, 2006 | 1:05 pm

  21. sasha says:

    Hi MarketMan

    I too am a Diet Coke junkie!! Got to have one everyday in the mid-afternoon as a pick-me-up, quick and easy cheap little buzz for the rest of my day. It’s great! I like it better than regular Coke, probably ‘coz it’s got no sugar (which I now think of as evil stuff!) But yeah, it IS addictive, and if Coca-Cola wants to bump up the price we haven’t got the choice but to pay up and feed the habit do we!! It’s a sick sick world MM!! :-P

    Feb 6, 2006 | 4:19 pm

  22. ana says:

    I never noticed the difference between Coke Light in can and in bottle before. I’m not really much of a soda drinker anymore since I’ve had ulcers. So water it is for me. Though, I like Coke Light rather than regular Coke. The regular tastes too sweet especially if it had been opened too long. Why is that? I never really knew. Well, of course I’ve heard about the Coke’s “spirit” and stuff.

    I also like Coke better than Pepsi even though my B is somehow connected with Pepsi and says I’m a traitor. But I agree that Pepsi is “smoother”. Although, I still like Coke Light or Diet Coke, whichever you call it.

    Feb 6, 2006 | 5:16 pm

  23. Wilson Cariaga says:

    wow MM, i never really noticed that difference, yeah i drink coke light more than the regular one hmmmm. . . i will try to find out the diff. bet bottled and canned

    I’m also using wireless internet, a sister company of PLDT, i use SMARTWifi for about a year now and it is good and very affordable

    Feb 6, 2006 | 5:36 pm

  24. Mandy says:

    wow, i didn’t realize coke light would bring in so many comments! :) i love coke light–it’s like having my soda without the calories. this is my alternative to water. MM, coke light in PET bottles usually taste flat esp. if it’s old stock. all the “spirit” gets out, unlike canned ones.

    i love wi-fi… we also have pldtdsl and i can surf from the comfort of my own bed. :) i’m a ‘mouse potato’ hahaha.

    Feb 6, 2006 | 5:53 pm

  25. edee says:

    i don’t like Coke, i like Pepsi , guess I’m outnumbered here :)
    and i don’t like to drink it right after it’s opened, too much fizz i think….but saying that, i seldom drink cola anymore…..just water and tea with milk, got to have milk in my tea now….. :)

    Feb 6, 2006 | 6:30 pm

  26. kiko says:

    Hello there MM!

    There’s now Coke Zero downunder which is different from Diet Coke. Apparently, Coke Zero is the sugar free version of the “classic coke”. Diet coke, on the other hand, is the sugar free version of the “new coke” (which is no longer available).

    Feb 7, 2006 | 10:50 am

  27. lmc says:

    Hi MM – re R&C’s Coke Zero comment – I have to agree, it’s pretty good for a ‘zero everything’ soda – they even did a blindfold test with regular Coke & Coke Zero – they couldn’t tell the difference or so they claim. I tried it – it does taste like the original…but then I’m not a good judge I guess because I have completely eradicated Coke from my life…just got a bit curious with this Zero stuff so I tried it ( : like edee, I’m now a tea drinker…thanks MM for the Coke post.

    Feb 7, 2006 | 10:57 am

  28. Tina Ledesma says:

    Shame on them to charge you for extra bandwidth. With your content, they should be hosting you for free.

    I remember when Coke used to have the tag line… “Coke adds life”. I guess with this prohibitive cost they won’t be adding more lives to Filipinos anymore :)

    Feb 7, 2006 | 11:30 am

  29. Marketman says:

    Gotta get me some of that Coke Zero… Would you believe when they introduced new Coke I had about 500 cans of the original coke in my pantry to delay the switch as long as possible. Thank God they brought back the original Coke (those were the days before I switched to Diet Coke!)…

    Feb 7, 2006 | 5:12 pm

  30. Tom says:

    Coke brands their diet drink differently in the US (and it tastes different) because they’re using a different artificial sweetener in the US (Saccharin) that is not used in the EU and most of the world due to health concerns. In the US we now have THREE varieties of “diet” coke — “Diet Coke”, “Coke Zero” and “Diet Coke with Splenda” based on three different sweeteners (Saccharin, Nutrasweet/Aspartamane (sp?), and Splenda.) Splenda is the substitute that tastes the most like corn syrup/natural sugar but Coke Zero is pretty good as well (a fourth “low calorie” version, C2, has been pulled from the market.) I think as the poster above said they’re varied the sugar content so that Coke Zero competes more directly with Diet Pepsi.

    My favorite is actually “Diet Coke with Lime” flavor (there is Vanilla and Lemon as well) because the lime makes up for the loss of bite vs. regular Coke.

    FYI w/respect to that bad plastic bottle — an ex-Pepsi employee once told me that there is a major issue with age on the diet sodas. The artificial sweeteners aren’t as stable chemically and tend to break down over time, especially if exposed to warm conditions. His advice was never to buy the diet unless you knew the vendor had a very high volume — e.g. never drink the one in the hotel minibar, because it could sit there for months.

    Feb 8, 2006 | 6:48 am

  31. linda says:

    MM, I can send you some Coke Zero through a friend who’s going home next month. Just email me the drop-off point.

    Feb 8, 2006 | 9:14 am

  32. sonia says:

    i totally am so amused with the interaction you have with your readers….its like sitting while having a family dinner where everyone just talk talk talk….i love that. of coarse this is without saying that i keep all your recipes and hope to try them one day….your web site is in my daily must do’s list.

    Feb 8, 2006 | 1:12 pm

  33. pnepo says:

    I just got back from Manila, and the first my daughter and I bought when we arrived at Kennedy were to buy Diet Cokes. it was soooo good. We missed the real thing while we were in Manila and even in Bangkok or Hongkong. Somehow, coke Light, coke zero is not the same as Diet Coke that we get in the states.
    In Manila, I kinda preferred Diet pepsi (was it called diet pepsi? I forgot)

    When we got in to Boston, it was Dunkin’ Donuts coffee that we enjoyed. We sorely missed having half and half on out coffee and the Dunkin Donuts regular coffee.

    Feb 8, 2006 | 11:07 pm

  34. Marketman says:

    Tom, thanks for that. I have heard the artificial sweetener expires side of the diet drinks, and in fact on cases and cans sold in the Philippines, there are expiry dates that are only months later than most purchase dates. I consume so much that expiry isn’t a problem but stability of artificial sweetener does cause the fluctutations in taste. I would like to try this Coke Zero but actually, I just want a fizzy Diet Coke, not the flat icky ones that are available here. Note others comments on rushing back to a can of Diet Coke in the states that tastes “better.” Local Diet cokes in cans at USD35 cents isn’t third world cheap so I would have hoped consistency would be better… Linda, your offer of a Coke Zero is just too nice and generous, but I wouldn’t want to put your friend out…many thanks though…I am sure I will get to taste it sometime soon…

    Feb 9, 2006 | 10:48 am

  35. Tom says:

    The big thing here in the states now (mostly in the Southwest) is buying gray-market Coke imported from Mexico — they still use cane sugar there so it is supposed to taste more like the old “pre-Classic/New” variety. Only comes in the little 8-oz bottles and most people buy it by the case, at significantly higher prices than the local Coke Classic.

    Feb 9, 2006 | 10:28 pm

  36. honeybabes says:

    Pepsi Max is the way to go, bottled or canned. Can’t wait to taste how Coke Zero measures up.

    The first time I tasted “Coke Light” in Europe, I couldn’t believe how UN-artificial it tasted compared to our Diet Coke drinks. Pretty much the same with Pepsi Max…which is very close to what Pepsi Regular tastes like. Although I detest Pepsi, as a general rule…

    Feb 9, 2006 | 11:28 pm

  37. shirley says:

    Hi there! Like you MM I also prefer the Diet Coke but since they introduce the version with lemon i kind of like it better..

    this is my first time to take a look at your website and i would say it is very educational and entertaining specially for food lovers and those who liked to bake like I do..keep it up and more power..

    Mar 17, 2006 | 2:42 pm

  38. purplegirl says:

    i’ve been drinking Coke since i was two years old, yikes! my dad used to put it in my bottle (bad daddy) and he himself has been drinking this addictive stuff for over 60 years. blame it on my grandfather who had a weekly delivery of the 8-ounce bottled stuff in manila way back in the 50s.

    8 a day sounds about right. am the same way. i switched to the diet version in 1996 when i realized 8 cans a day equals 1120 calories! i do like the german version. very fizzy. i have a collection of (undrunk) diet Coke from all the 24 countries i’ve visited.

    summer is approaching and you know what that means — six-pack cans will now cost USD99 cents! yep, that’s less than 100 pesos for 6 cans! 2-liter bottles will now be USD69 cents! aah, the perks of living in the land of the Coca-Cola headquarters!!! oh, and did i mention the Coca-Cola Museum? where you can taste different flavors of coke products from all over the world? ok, that’s it. i’m heading over there so i can post pictures and blog about it.

    Jun 1, 2006 | 10:40 pm

  39. Marketman says:

    purplegirl, let me know when you do a post on Coke…

    Jun 2, 2006 | 7:08 am

  40. Danny says:

    Arrrrgg! Need dieting help!
    OK, so about 5 weeks ago I began to change my diet. The first week and 1/2 were great, went from 225 to 215. However these last three weeks or so I've seen NO difference.

    I've changed my eating habits a bit – used to eat fast food about 3 times a week, now maybe once every other week. Used to drink LOTS of soda, eat late late into the night, etc – basically bad eating habits.

    I work out every other day – I ride my exercise bike for 20 minutes (yes not much, I'm building it up every time I ride) and run some during the week.

    However I seemed to have hit a brick wall. Can anyone make some suggestions? I can list my diet if needed, however I don't think there is anything wrong with that and my goals. Anyways…

    Oct 30, 2006 | 7:26 pm

  41. Marketman says:

    I am not a doctor nor a diet expert, but maybe try a lot more vegetables and salads and fruit? Losing 10 lbs in the first two weeks sounds pretty good to me. Oh, maybe cut out anything with refined sugar?

    Oct 30, 2006 | 8:17 pm


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