Stretching Sugar

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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39 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I made the switch to Diet Coke years ago. My soda habit is probably my worst nutritional fault, but at least it’s calorie and sugar free. Once you get used to it, there is no going back to the Classic Coke. It’s almost undrinkable to me now. Agreed that Diet Dr.Pepper is one of the closest to the originals. It’s what i will drink if for some reason I can’t get my hands on a Diet Coke (occasionally the vending guy at work drops the ball and I have no choice).Report

    • I get that way after about a month of drinking diet. Maybe six weeks.

      Going the reverse takes about four days.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I never could drink straight sugared soda as the sugars would devolve me into a mass of overheated sweat. Diet Coke always tasted like dish water to me but I discovered Coke Zero to be quite to my taste and developed a great fondness for it. Strong enough to get me over the hump into Coke Zero Sugar though I consider it the inferior flavor (but still better than Diet Coke!)Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North says:

        I hear you. When I was a kid and Diet Coke first came out I thought it was horrible. I used to also not like beer. It’s amazing what we can acquire a taste for! (still not planning to devote that energy to bourbon or coffee though – blech!)Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Amen on that. People keep saying “Drink coffee, you’ll come to love it!” and I’m like “So muscle through this vile tasting swill and I’ll be rewarded by eventually loving it and acquiring a new expensive habit? Thanks I’ll pass.”Report

        • 35 years or so ago I had to give up sugared soda because it made my stomach hurt (not nausea, but just plain physical pain). Fortunately the soft drink industry had largely switched to an artificial sweetener I could taste. I forget which of the early sweeteners is the problem, but I’m part of a small percentage of the population who can’t taste it (and man, does pop w/o any sweetener taste bad). The other day the place where I had lunch had run out of the diet syrup for their machine so I tried a sugared one — about half way through, the same stomach pain started up.

          From time to time I make a run at switching to plain iced tea, but after a few weeks I drift back to Kroger’s Diet Mountain Dew knock-off.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Cain says:

            True story: When I worked for Kroger back in the 90s the Kroger knock-off was called ‘Dew Drop’. Apparently Mountain Dew asked them to change the name so they called it Citrus Drop and it has been thus ever since.

            If we’re just talking awesome sodas, Big Red is still the top of the mountain for me. I can’t imagine a 10-sack of White Castle sliders without it.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    As someone who doesn’t mind the taste of artificial sweeteners, I use diet pop as a way to get my caffeine in the morning.

    But as someone on a low-carb diet, I would beg science to discover a low-carb potato. Cauliflower doesn’t come close.Report

    • Avatar fillyjonk in reply to Jaybird says:

      all the diet gurus who are like “cauliflower is just as good as potatoes!” and I am sitting here like “who cauterized your taste buds?” Also the same gurus who are like “you can squish up and reform boiled cauliflower into pizza crust and you’ll never know the difference” and I am like “oh pull the other one, it’s got bells on”

      And I even don’t hate cauliflower. It’s just, it’s not potatoes and never will be.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Aside from an occasional Sprecher Root Beer, I swore off soda long ago. However, I like my coffee sweetish, and that was a lot of calories. I eventually settled on a monk-fruit sweetener with just a splash of vanilla to kill the aftertaste (most people don’t get an aftertaste from monk-fruit sweetener, but I’m somewhere in the range of a super-taster, so yeah me).

    Now if I could just stop eating those mini-donuts…Report

  4. I don’t drink soda or put sugar in my coffee. I’m not claiming virtue here. My vices lie elsewhere. I actively dislike sweet drinks. My wife drinks diet soda. The formulation from a soda fountain is slightly different from what she is used to, so she sometimes worries when eating out that the waitress gave her a fully sugared soda. When this happens, she hands it to me to taste. I take a sip, grimace in disgust, and assure her that it is indeed artificially sweetened. I would hate it if it were regular, but I have no problem telling which is which.

    Which is to say, I suspect that someone used to regular would get that unpleasant artificial sweetener kick from a blend.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      I’m in the same boat with you – I might drink pop more if I could get one that was around 1/4 as sweet as the standard ones.

      Sugar free sodas are not appealing to me, since they try to be as sweet as the regular ones.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    I really never knew diet soda could be so complicated. I hope you find what you want, but soda should be a simple easy drink. But i drink store brand diet lemon lime at home ( Fred Meyer’s baby!!) so it may be possible my palette is inadequate.Report

  6. Avatar Pinky says:

    My sugary drink compromise is Gatorade. It’s about half the sugar of soda, but still basically drinkable.

    I’ve never found an iced tea in the middle ground. Sweet tea is almost painfully sweet, and unsweetened tea usually is packed with awful artificial sweeteners. I can enjoy a decent, slightly-sweetened iced tea, but I’ve never found a commercial one. Of course, when you start shopping around for tea, you also have to deal with the caffeine problem. Some of them are so caffeinated you can see the bottle shaking, and there’s usually no indication of caffeine level on the label. And I don’t know my way around herbal teas.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Pinky says:

      I like some of the Honest Teas, which clock in at 100 cal. max. I just find them on the pricey side, and probably related to that, it doesn’t seem like many stores offer the full-lineup, and some of the styles are not appealing, like pomegranate. And mixing lemonade with tea is a cthulhuian monstrosity.Report

    • Avatar Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

      if you go to costco, they sell a version of 3rd street iced peach tea that is pretty low key. not too sweet, all organic ingredients (which matters only b/c they get actual western slope peaches in there so it *tastes like real things*), a moderate amount of caffeine (more than green tea, less than a coke). they’re tasty af… though given that they’re close to being as delicious as a real-sugar coke (oh the heresy) they may not actually lead to more disciplined intake :D.Report

  7. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    For me the degree of sweetness isn’t the issue. I just can’t stand the taste or aftertaste (likely depends on the specific artificial sweetener) of diet sodas. I used to be a huge MD addict, but when I was diagnosed with T2 diabetes I cut out all sweet drinks among other changes. So basically I drink water, unsweetened ice tea, and unsweetened coffee. Some 2% milk at times, mostly on (minimally sweet) cereal.

    Now, after being off them for awhile, I actively dislike the taste of sweetened drinks.Report

    • The aftertaste can be a huge issue. It’s what I mean when I talk about the “acidic threshold” in the OP. The trick is to use sweeteners until it really starts to kick in. I’ve found having some actual sugar helps with it. Also balancing the sweeteners between types helps (One Splenda, one Equal, and one Stevia is better than three of any of the above).

      The problem with straight diet drinks is that they rely entirely on sweeteners, it’s really hard for them to keep below that point. Some do better than others, though.Report

    • @road scholar:

      I guess from your comment that you’re not actively searching for a new drink, but have you tried LaCroix? I find it satisfies me in the way that soda used to. (I’ll drink a pop now and then, but otherwise I’m no longer a huge soda drinker.)Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Have you tried the Crush Water Enhancers?

    They’re absolutely uncanny. They make a regular bottle of water taste like flat soda. (Or just spray them directly on your tongue if you don’t want to taste anything but “Grape” for the next two days.)Report

  9. Avatar Maribou says:

    I find spindrift to be really helpful in cutting my sugared soda intake, without all the bad stuff that comes along with artificial sweeteners…

    I know they sell it as a sparkling water, but at 10 percent real juice / about 10-20 cals per can, it works more or less like what you’re describing here. The flavors are about a jillion times more intense than sparkling waters are.Report

  10. Avatar fillyjonk says:

    I am sensitive in one way or other to nearly all of the synthetic artificial sweeteners (migraines, stomach upset, “the runs”). Stevia I can tolerate but it tastes kind of strong on some things.

    So my beverage choices when trying to limit sugar are: water, unsweetened tea (fortunately I like hot tea; unsweetened iced tea is too astringent for me), and those seltzer things that everyone likes to joke about “having no flavor.” (Compared to soda, yeah, they kind of don’t, but if you just want something carbonated, they’re not bad).

    So the “pick and mix” method doesn’t work for some of us.

    I did go back to putting sugar in certain hot teas (ones that are good with it) after computing how many teaspoons of sugar are in a regular 20 ounce Coke vs. what I normally put in my tea; I figured “it’s not enough to kill you.” I don’t have any issues with sugar use (my blood sugars are normal) but I am a fattish menopausal woman, and that means you gotta cut back everywhere.

    Though I would happily give up sweetened drinks forever in return for having piece of cake every couple of days…Report

  11. Avatar George Turner says:

    I prefer bitter drinks to sweet ones. Hot tea and tonic water fit the bill.

    A couple of years ago the BBC noted that bitter cocktails were booming in popularity, so apparently tastes can change.

    I do sometimes enjoy a Mexican Coke out of the classic bottle, but I wish I could get them in the 10-ounce size which seems to taste better. What I’ll never have is Coke out of the remaining 1915 prototype bottle which is set to sale at auction with a starting bid of $150K.Report

  12. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    I used to be a pretty heavy pop drinker, but cut way back because I didn’t like the effect it was having on my waistline. Now it’s mostly a weekend thing, though there are some meals which cry out for a pop, like pizza, or a burger. When I do, it’s always the sugary (not corn syrupy) variety, which tastes much cleaner and better. I substituted iced tea for lunch, and I’ve always been a heavy milk drinker at dinner. My waistline has definitely noticed the difference.

    I guess the key with pop, as with everything, is moderation. A couple a week is tolerable. A couple a day is telling.

    I’ve never been able to be a diet pop drinker. It’s always tasted like soap to me. I’m with @North re: coffee. I don’t know how something that smells so good can taste so vile.Report

  13. Avatar Damon says:

    When I was fatter and less healthy, I drank soda but disliked the taste. One day in Europe, drinking a real sugar coke, I realized it was the HFCS that I didn’t like. Now, as a diabetic, I only eat real sugar, if I’m going to eat something sweet. The artificials, I am convinced, cause my body to react the same way or worse than sugar. Might as well enjoy real sugar. But I’ve cut most sugar out and don’t miss it. I’ve cut way down on carbs too. It can be done.Report

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