Mexican Coke

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Mexican Coke
Bottle of imported Mexican Coca-Cola
Product typeCola
OwnerThe Coca-Cola Company
CountryMexico
Introduced1921; 103 years ago (1921)

In the United States, Mexican Coca-Cola, or Mexican Coke (Spanish: Coca Cola de Vidrio, English: Glass Coca-Cola, or Coca-Cola in a glass bottle) or, informally, "Mexicoke",[1] refers to Coca-Cola produced in and imported from Mexico.[2] The Mexican formula that is exported into the U.S. is sweetened with white sugar instead of the high-fructose corn syrup[3] used in the American formula since the early 1980s.[4][5] Some tasters have said that Mexican Coca-Cola tastes better, while other blind tasting tests reported no perceptible differences in flavor.

Mexican Coke should not be confused with the domestic version of Coca-Cola sold in Mexico, which since 2017 may contain the artificial sweetener sucralose, with a can containing one-third less sugar than the export product.[6]

History[edit]

The Coca-Cola Company opened its first bottling franchise in Mexico around 1921 with Grupo Tampico,[7] and then Grupo ARMA.[8] Monterrey-based FEMSA is currently the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Mexico and most of Latin America.[9]

In the U.S. food industry, high-fructose corn syrup is a cheaper alternative sweetener to sucrose (standard sugar) because of production quotas of domestic sugar, import tariffs on foreign sugar, and subsidies of U.S. corn, among other factors.[10][11] The Coca-Cola Company and other U.S. soft drink makers continue to use sugar in other countries but transitioned to high-fructose corn syrup for U.S. markets in 1980 before completely switching over in 1984.[12]

The Coca-Cola Company originally imported the Mexican-produced version into the U.S. primarily to sell it to Mexican immigrants who grew up with that formula.[2] Mexican Coke was first sold at grocers who served Latino clientele, but as its popularity grew among non-Latinos, by 2009 larger chains like Costco, Sam's Club and Kroger began to stock it.[2] Since then it has become readily available at grocery stores throughout the United States.[13]

A 2012 scientific analysis of Mexican Coke[14] found no sucrose (standard sugar), but instead found total fructose and glucose levels similar to other soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, though in different ratios.[5]

In 2013, a Mexican Coca-Cola bottler announced it would stop using cane sugar in favor of glucose-fructose syrup, to comply with changes to the Mexican food labeling law.[15] It later clarified this change would not affect those bottles specifically exported to the United States as "Coca-Cola Nostalgia" products.[4]

Taste[edit]

Mexican Coke is often sold in the United States to cater to both the "nostalgic factors" it evokes and the perception that it tastes different from the U.S. product, which uses corn sweetener instead of cane sugar.

Results from taste tests have been mixed. In a tasting conducted by a local Westchester, New York magazine, some tasters noted that the Mexican Coke had "a more complex flavor with an ineffable spicy and herbal note", and that it contained something "that darkly hinted at root beer or old-fashioned sarsaparilla candies".[16] However, participants in a different double-blind test preferred American Coca-Cola,[17] participants in taste tests conducted by Coca-Cola, and others reported no perceptible differences in flavor between American Coke and the Mexican formulation.[18]

Bottle[edit]

Mexican Coca-Cola is sold in a thick 355 ml (12.0 US fl oz) or 500 ml (17 US fl oz) glass bottle, which some have contrasted as being "more elegant, with a pleasingly nostalgic shape," compared to the more common plastic American Coca-Cola bottles. Formerly, Coca-Cola was widely available in refundable and non-refundable glass bottles of various sizes in the U.S., but nearly all bottlers began replacing most glass bottles with plastic during the late 1980s.[16] Most exporters of Mexican Coke affix a paper sticker on each bottle containing the nutrition facts label, ingredients, and bottler and/or exporter's contact information, to meet US food labeling requirements.

Adding to the nostalgia factor, the Mexican Coca-Cola glass bottle does not have a twist-off cap as plastic bottles do.[19]

New Zealand[edit]

A similar phenomenon exists in New Zealand, where Coca-Cola is available both bottled locally (sweetened with cane sugar) and imported from the United States (with high-fructose corn syrup).[20]

Kosher for Pesach Coke[edit]

A similar cane sugar-using version of Coca-Cola is bottled in Israel during the Jewish holiday of Pesach. The corn syrup in the standard recipe is replaced by cane sugar in compliance with Jewish dietary law, which states that no grains may be consumed during the holiday. It is packaged differently than standard Coke; a yellow bottle cap is used on the Kosher for Pesach bottles and the packaging is written in both Hebrew and English. It is exported to the United States and can be found in American kosher supermarkets during and around Pesach.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Phillips, Matt; Ferdman, Roberto A. (November 4, 2013). "A New Tax Might Cost Mexicoke Its Signature Sugar". The Atlantic.
  2. ^ a b c Walker, Rob (October 11, 2009). "Cult Classic". New York Times.
  3. ^ Here’s Why Mexican Coke Tastes Better Than American Coke by Chloë NannestadChloë Nannestad on The Reader's Diggest, Jun. 28, 2021
  4. ^ a b Choi, Candice (November 6, 2013). "Mexican Coke in US will still use cane sugar". yahoo.com.
  5. ^ a b Ventura, Emily E.; Davis, Jaimie N.; Goran, Michael I. (April 2011). "Sugar Content of Popular Sweetened Beverages Based on Objective Laboratory Analysis: Focus on Fructose Content". Obesity. 19 (4): 868–874. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.255. PMID 20948525. S2CID 9318555.
  6. ^ Coca-Cola Expands Test of Sucralose-Blended Flagship
  7. ^ Davis, James R.; Davis, Adelaide B. (1998). Effective training strategies. p. 312. ISBN 9781576750377. The first Coca-Cola bottling company in Mexico, Grupo Tampico, with eighty-three years of history, operates a series of gas stations, computer stores, automotive retailers, hotels, and radio stations, and they still distribute Coca-Cola
  8. ^ de Bell, Leendert Andrew (2005). Globalization, regional development and local response. p. 68. Starting out in the 1920s as a small factory for ice cream and soft drinks, the company acquired one of Mexico's first franchises to bottle soft drinks under license of the Coca-Cola Company in the 1930s. In the following decades, operations...
  9. ^ FEMSA • Annual Report 2017.
  10. ^ White, John S (November 1, 2008). "Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain't". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 88 (6): 1716S–1721S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.25825b. ISSN 0002-9165. PMID 19064536.
  11. ^ Engber, Daniel (April 28, 2009). "Dark sugar: The decline and fall of high-fructose corn syrup". Slate Magazine. Slate.com. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  12. ^ Daniels, Lee A. (November 7, 1984). "Coke, Pepsi to use more corn syrup". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  13. ^ Ellickson, Paul B.; Grieco, Paul L.E.; Khvastunov, Oleksii (2020). "Measuring competition in spatial retail". The RAND Journal of Economics. 51: 189–232. doi:10.1111/1756-2171.12310. S2CID 216232179.
  14. ^ Work done by Krueger Food Laboratories Chelmsford reported in Ventura, Emily E.; Davis, Jaimie N.; Goran, Michael I. (September 6, 2012). "Sugar Content of Popular Sweetened Beverages Based on Objective Laboratory Analysis: Focus on Fructose Content". Obesity. 19 (4): 868–874. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.255. PMID 20948525. S2CID 9318555. "All of the samples were domestically produced with the exception of the Mexican Coca-Cola" Page 869
  15. ^ Baral, Susmita (November 4, 2013). "Mexican Coke Switching To Corn Syrup From Cane Sugar; 4 Reasons Why This Shift Is Terrible". Latin Times.
  16. ^ a b Sexton, Jule (February 22, 2010). "Mexican Coke Hits the County: A Blind Taste Test". Westchester Magazine. Today Media, Inc.
  17. ^ López-Alt, J. Kenji. "The Food Lab, Drinks Edition: Is Mexican Coke Better?". Seriouseats.com.
  18. ^ Wong, Vanessa (November 11, 2013). "The Mexican Coca-Cola Myth: It's Almost American". bloomberg.com.
  19. ^ Mayhew, Don (June 21, 2007). "Mexican Coca-Cola On the Market". The Ledger. The Fresno Bee. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  20. ^ Steward, Ian (June 26, 2011). "American Coke fails Kiwi tastebud test". Stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media.
  21. ^ Lakritz, Talia. "Here's why Coca-Cola bottles have yellow caps right now". Business Insider. Retrieved January 25, 2024.

Further reading[edit]