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Strategy I drank as much Diet Coke as I could for a week — and I saw why Coca-Cola made massive changes to the brand

  • Published:

Diet Coke has seen slumping sales for years.

Diet Coke's new svelte can. play

Diet Coke's new svelte can.

(Hollis Johnson)

  • As part of a trial of eating like President Donald Trump, I drank as much Diet Coke as I could for a week.
  • I never grew to like the drink, and by the end, I really grew to dislike it.
  • Diet Coke is in a unique predicament.

Diet Coke has a lot of fans. I do not count myself among them.

In a weeklong trial of President Trump's famous fast food-heavy diet, I drank as much Diet Coke as I could. Turns out, that wasn't very much. Though Trump reportedly drinks as many as 12 cans a day, I couldn't do more than about three in a day.

Admittedly, I'm not a big diet soda drinker. I usually try to avoid all artificial sweeteners, but I had no choice here. I thought: by the end of the week, I'm going to either really love this drink or really hate it.

Turns out it was the latter. In a world where Coke Zero — now Coke Zero Sugar — exists, Diet Coke doesn't really make sense. There's no compelling reason for someone who doesn't already love Diet Coke to choose its slightly chemically aftertaste over the more robust and Coke-like Coke Zero taste.

Diet Coke is something of a problem child for the brand as sales continue to slump. It's become the weakest part of Coca-Cola's product lineup, but the company can't stop selling it for fear of alienating loyal Diet Coke lovers.

Therefore, no changes are being made to the flavors of the core brand. Instead, new flavors are being added to boost sales and turn the franchise around.

There's a key difference between Diet Coke and its new flavorful siblings. While the original Diet Coke is sweetened only with aspartame, the other flavors have a combination of aspartame and a sweetener known as acesulfame potassium. Coke Zero uses a similar combination, but it's formulated differently, so there is still some separation between the drinks.

I tried each of the new flavors and can confirm they are a marked improvement over the original Diet Coke. If I were able to drink the new Feisty Cherry Diet Coke instead, I could see myself actually being able to drink 12 in a day.

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