I’m not the only one who loves the taste of Mexican Coca-Cola—the real thing. It is the real thing because Mexican Coke is packaged in glass bottles and made with pure cane sugar. Not long ago, the only place you could find Mexican Coca Cola in Los Angeles was Latino markets and Mexican restaurants. Then a few years back, Costco Wholesale started offering Mexican Coke—a case of 24 twelve ounce bottles for $17.99. And this year, I bought Mexican Coca-Cola from Safeway’s grocery chains Pavilions and Vons, and from my local CVS Pharmacy in Pasadena, CA.
Why Mexican Coke Tastes Better?
Turns out that cane sugar isn’t the only thing that gives Mexican Coke its pure and sweeter taste—American Coke is made with high-fructose corn syrup. Drinking from a glass bottle, or any glass container, has a psychological effect that enhances our sense of flavor. But when used as packaging, glass bottles is the least likely to produce chemical reaction that alters the taste. “While packaging and food companies work to prevent any interactions, they can occur,” says Sara Risch, a food chemist and member of the Institute of Food Technologists. It’s possible for small amounts of acetaldehyde, material used in plastic bottles, to mix with soda and alter its flavor. Similarly, polymer lining in soda cans might absorb ingredients and alter flavor.
Coca Cola claims there’s no difference in taste between the cola made with high-fructose corn syrup and the cola made with real sugar, but this is wishful thinking.
Why Can’t We Make the Same Coke in America?
I found an article from 2004 that mentions a John Craven, the editor an online beverage industry newsletter based in Cambridge, Mass. Craven speculated that Coke suppressed demand for cane sugar formula because it would cost more to produce and consumers would not pay the extra cost.
Added Feb. 27, 2013: I found this Today-I-Learned (TIL) discussion on Reddit that was started on account of this article.