Saturday, September 20, 2003

Diet Coke

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I first realized that Diet Cokes -- or any diet drinks, for that matter -- actually taste sweet. For the longest time, I thought that all diet drinks tasted horribly bitter. Then, a couple of years ago, I tasted a Diet Coke and thought, "Wow, they've really improved this stuff lately."

But they haven't improved artificial sweeteners at all. In fact, the reason that I had such a dim impression of diet drinks was that the only time I had ever tasted them was at my grandmother's house, when I was much younger. And my grandmother never drank diet drinks; she just kept a few in a second refrigerator in the garage for purposes of family gatherings. In other words, the only diet drinks I had ever tasted had been sitting in a garage for several months, and the artificial sweetener had broken down, giving them that awful taste. (Every time I tried one, I always thought, "How could anyone ever stand to drink these things!")

The funny thing is, I didn't realize this until just a few months ago, when someone I work with opened a Diet Coke, and said, "Eww, this one's been sitting around too long, and the sweetener has broken down." It was then that I realized for the first time in my life that the problem with my grandmother's Diet Cokes was that they were too old, not that all artificial sweeteners tasted horrible until just a couple of years ago.

It was quite an epiphany.


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