(ABC4) – As Americans, it’s no secret that we love soda. Something about that bubbly, sweet carbonation is enough to brighten up even the dullest of days. With summer approaching shortly, many of us are finding ourselves opting for the zero-calorie option. However, this year we’ve been faced with a dilemma we’ve never encountered before: Do we go for the “diet” soda, or the one labeled “zero-sugar”?
This battle has proven to be a hard one to fight, raising various questions and curiosities. Fear not, as ABC4 is here to answer your most pressing soda concerns.
So, what exactly is the difference between diet sodas and sugar-free sodas? First things first, let’s tackle the labels. Recently, there’s been a cultural shift away from diet culture. Younger generations have begun rebelling against the societal standards laid out for them, one being ultra-thinness. According to reports from CNN, the word “diet” has fallen out of fashion and is now being replaced with “zero-sugar” or “sugar-free”.
Now, let’s move on to the ingredients. Since it’s not realistic to take a look at every brand’s nutrition facts, we’ll hone in on three favorites in Utah — Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Sprite.
Health and Nutrition Manager Anna Wheeler spoke with Coca-Cola U.K. and revealed the answer to the organization’s commonly asked question: What’s the difference between Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar?
According to Wheeler’s research, the products are made using the same artificial sweeteners, aspartame and acesulfame-K, however, they do differ in taste.
Diet Coke has been around since the ’80s and was the brand’s first sugar-free cola. Diet Coke differs from its Coca-Cola origin due to its lighter taste which is a result of the product’s different blend of flavors. Ever hear anyone complain about the flavor of Diet Coke compared to regular Coke? This is probably why.
Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is actually closer in flavor to the original Coke product when compared to Diet Coke. Coke Zero Sugar was launched decades after its sugar-free competitor with a “…new and improved taste, after years of innovation and recipe development.” Coca-Cola Zero Sugar completely kicked Coca-Cola Zero to the curb, which came out in 2006.
Now let’s take a look at Dr. Pepper. On April 8, Dr. Pepper took to Twitter to announce the brand’s launch of a new Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar line that includes three flavors: classic Dr. Pepper, Dr. Pepper Cherry, and Dr. Pepper & Cream Soda. Upon the release of the new products, consumers were wondering how the beverages compared to Diet Dr. Pepper, which had been in the game since the ’60s.
According to HypeBeast, the difference is in the sweetening agent. While Diet Dr. Pepper is sweetened with aspartame, Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar is sweetened using a combination of aspartame and acesulfame potassium for a more syrupy, authentic Dr. Pepper taste.
Now, to tackle Sprite. As noted by DifferenceBetween.com, the sugar, or fructose, is removed from Sprite in the manufacturing of Diet Sprite and replaced with aspartame. The end product contains very little sugar and calories, though both were present in the since-discontinued beverage.
In comparison, DifferenceBetween.com highlights Sprite Zero Sugar’s nutrition label as showcasing zero traces of sugar, carbohydrates, and calories. Along with the artificial sweeteners present in Diet Sprite, Sprite Zero Sugar adds acesulfame-Potassium to the mix.
Overall, the difference between “diet” soda and soda labels “zero-sugar” are very minimal, and can usually be determined by looking at the product’s nutrition label and ingredients list. In fact, the branding may be more of a marketing scheme than anything, veering away from the word “diet” to adopt the more socially acceptable term, “zero-sugar.”