I had noticed over the last few months that there had been an increase in both the amount and the variety of non-english (or “Uxbridge” [0]) Diet Coke that was making its way into the sandwich shops I frequent around the Covent Garden area. Not only that but there were real differences between the different nationalities. The time had come to gather as many varieties as possible, a small group of tasters, and find out WHICH WAS BEST!

AIM: To determine which country (from those available in the one week period before FSD2 in central London) makes the best Diet Coke.

APPARATUS: Seven cans of Diet Coke/Coke Light, One bottle Coke Light, some people with fine, educated palates, one person with allergy to aspartame

METHOD: Give each person a small amount of each, note comments, see what happens if we give some to allergy boy (pictured left).

Tower o' Diet Coke
(Key (done from memory): from top, Canada, Northern Ireland, GB, Netherlands, Macedonia, Germany, Poland, “Thai” (bottle))

Great Britain: We tasted this first to set a benchmark, obviously we all knew what it tasted like, it’s just normal Diet Coke, innit.

Northern Ireland: I hadn’t realised that there was a separate company making Coke for Northern Ireland, but Coca-Cola Bottlers (Ulster) started in Belfast in 1939, apparently. We thought this was flatter and more syrupy than the mainland stuff, quite sharp but with more of the nasty aftertaste.

Canada: In a non-european standard 375ml can, rather than the 330ml can we are used to, this was interesting for being in both English (Diet Coke) and French (Diete Coke). Frankly the worst of the bunch, barely any taste at all, like brackish water, no follow through, all mouth, no trousers were the comments of the assembled masses.

Netherlands: The first of the Coke Lights to be tasted and the difference was immediate. This tasted a lot more like full fat Coke, with a lot more body. It was pointed out that this would go well with a dark rum. My personal favourite.

Germany: Even sweeter than the Dutch one and more syrupy, also had more aspartame after taste.

By this point I realised that drinking this much diet coke in quick succession was a bad idea for someone with a mild caffeine intolerance such as myself, as you can see the comments have become a little sketchy, which, to be fair, was how I was feeling. Added to the fact that several of the group had also eaten rather a large number of sweets only shortly before this led to a feeling of mild hysteria in the room…

Poland: This one had a weird smell and taste and everyone was rather confused until we looked carefully at the can and realised it had a different balance of sweetners to all of the others, less aspartame and more of whatever the other one is, although giving some to aspartame-allergic boy still produced a spluttering and complaints of numb mouth.

Macedonian We have no idea why macedonian diet coke is available in London, but as it says it’s from ?????? on the side (this was the only can not in roman script) even my rudimentary knowledge of cyrillic can read this as Skopje. This was the most syrupy of the lot and generally held to be the best, but i think it’s a bit too brutal.

The last to be tasted was the bottle, which had a strange label in what we believe to be Thai script. However there was no marking on the cap and the label was held on by a slightly dodgy sticker giving the ingredients in English. We’re pretty certain it was bootleg as it basically tasted of normal fat coke (not that any of us had much in the way of tastebuds left after the onslaught) so it was disqualified.

CONCLUSION: It seems to be that the further east you go the heftier the diet coke/coke light gets, so if you want something with a bit more oomph than yr standard, go for one of the cans in foreign.

CONCLUSION SUPPLEMENTAL: Despite a grillion pound advertising spend aimed exactly at the core demographic of the tasting group (ie young men) not ONE of us thought to get any coke zero for this task proving that the brand will go nowhere…

[0] although UK coke is often referred to as Uxbridge coke, it is not actually made there. Unfortunately there is no easy way of finding out which of the 6 manufacturing sites each can is produced at, maybe that’s a task for FSD3…