Monday, October 26, 2009

Mexican Coke, Passover Coke, Cleveland Coke

Coca Cola: ubiquitous, enduring, and familiar. And unchanging. Well, except for that ridiculous New Coke thing in the 80's. And, as it turns out, Mexico. We're a little late to the party, but it was only on a recent trip to California that Foodgoat was first introduced to Mexican Coke. What's that, you say? Coke with a splash of tequila? A dash of cayenne? No, it's a Coca Cola that has been made and bottled in Mexico. What's the difference?

Instead of using highly processed high fructose corn syrup, in Mexico they make Coke with plain old cane sugar.

And they bottle it in an old fashioned glass bottle, instead of a can or plastic bottle.

These two factors make Mexican Coke a delightful, nostalgic alternative to regular American Coke for Foodgoat. Drinking a Mexican Coke is a warm, pleasant experience that takes him back to his early childhood in the 70's, visiting his grandparents' house in Garfield Heights.

Is it just the glass bottle? Nope. Mexican Coke, with its cane sugar, really does taste more like the Coke of yore. In 1980, corn syrup replaces half the sugar in Coke in the U.S.; by 1985, U.S. Coke was sweetened entirely by high fructose corn syrup, which is much cheaper (while sugar is cheaper is Mexico).

While Coca Cola claims it makes no difference at all in the taste, others disagree, and Foodgoat is one of them. He put it to a head to head blind taste test, and found Mexican Coke the winner: it had a discernibly smoother taste.

But then we came back to Cleveland. Foodgoat had a yen for Mexican Coke, but nowhere to get it. We thought our Mexican Coke craving would have to wait until our next visit to California.

But on our weekly trip to Alesci's, the local Italian deli, Foodgoat spied a box of just delivered Coke bottles, and an examination of the label confirmed it: Mexican Coke! In Cleveland! Just around the corner from us!


We went home with six bottles.

After happily enjoying our Mexican, cane-sugared Coke, Foodgoat took a glance at the ingredient list on a regular, U.S. bottled Coke to see if there was anything else different.

He was surprised to find sucrose, rather than high fructose corn syrup, on the ingredient list. Isn't that ... sugar?

It is sugar, from sugar beets instead of sugar cane, and definitely not high fructose corn syrup. It turns out that not all Coca Cola bottlers in the U.S. use high fructose corn syrup. Among the few that don't: the Cleveland bottler! Thus, Coke in Cuyahoga County is made without the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, just like Mexican Coke.

In fact, some Coke bottlers in certain metropolitan areas switch to using sugar once a year - every late March and early April, for the two to three weeks leading up to Passover. Corn syrup can't be consumed during this time by observant Jews, hence this limited run of Passover Coke. As you can imagine, it runs out quickly.

The Cleveland bottler, though, apparently uses sugar year round.

So if you can't find Mexican Coke and it's not Passover, look for Cleveland Coke!


  1. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Alesci's (I only know the one in Willowick) is a great place for finding many items you won't see elsewhere.

  2. Heinen's, particularly the one in University Heights on Green Road, is a good source for Passover Coke. You actually can really taste the difference. A friend who lives in Phoenix raves about Mexican Coke -- I'll have to check out Alesci's, assuming you haven't bought all the Mexican Coke up by the case! =)

  3. IloveCoke11:54 PM

    I do NOT understand why, if Coke USA knows we will pay like $35 a case for MexiCoke, why wont Coke USA just make a small niche quantity of sugar coke and sell it for $30 a case! They'd still make a ton of money on it. This defies logic.

  4. Anonymous10:51 PM

    Costco off of Mayfield carries cases of 24 for ~$18. I saw it there last time I went. (April 2010)

  5. Anonymous5:16 AM

    I believe many sugar beets are GMO - which is probably just as bad as HFCS

  6. What specific stores sells the Cleveland coke? Being fructose-intolerant, it is VERY hard to find much I can drink, especially pop

  7. Anonymous11:55 PM

    Any place that gets it's distro from the Cleveland Plant gets "Cleveland Coke" which is made with Sucrose. The deal the bottler made with the Coke company states that they get the original formula with Coke and Cherry Coke, the rest of their product line uses HFCS. Most Mexican Coke has been found to be pretty much the same as it's US counterpart in terms of not containing Sucrose and having similar sweeteners to HFCS.

    This having been said, I worked with the Coke guys and their area was pretty much the entire Cleveland area. Smaller vendors (Gas stations and the like) would often get product from the Twinsberg plant (much bigger distro center) made with HFCS.

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