April 2, 2008

Oh, and I’m Also Addicted to Diet Soda

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Think the title says it all? Think again. I’m more than just addicted to diet soda, I’m in love with it. During my entire sophomore and junior year, I had a large diet Pepsi every morning for breakfast. That’s right; I drank soda for breakfast for two years. And that’s just the first weird thing that comes to mind. I’ve been drinking soda since I had baby teeth, and now that all my grown up teeth are caramel-colored cavity caverns courtesy of the Coca-Cola Corporation, I’m going to sing the praises of my first true love.
I drink enough diet Coke that I can tell when the syrup bag needs to be replaced at the soda fountain. That’s right, as the soda comes out of the machine, I can tell without tasting it if I’m getting too much, too little or just the perfect amount of soda syrup. I can also tell if the soda is going to be too bubbly, but can’t everyone do that? (Unless nobody cares how bubbly their soda is, in which case, look, I’m even crazier!)
But sometimes love has tests, or challenges. And so with mild trepidation, I took on The Pepsi Challenge. For those who don’t know, Pepsi claims that in blind taste tests, people prefer the taste of Pepsi to Coke. If you can’t see the label, they claim you will just loooooove the taste of Pepsi. Guess again Pepsi pushers, not only can I tell the difference between the regular and diet versions of both brands, I prefer diet and regular Coke. I prefer them blindfolded, I prefer them in a box, with a fox, on a train, in the rain, etc. (That makes two Dr. Seuss references in three weeks.)
My friends got me a diet Coke FOM pillow from Target for my birthday. And I was happy they did. It started as a joke present, but the joke was on them because I really like it.
People started drinking diet soda because they didn’t want all the calories. Diet soda was perceived by most to taste worse than regular soda. So the soda companies came up with a genius idea: create diet soda that tastes exactly the same as regular. Enter Coke Zero.
Now I personally don’t like Coke Zero because I like the taste of diet more. But I enjoy the taste of Cherry Coke more than I enjoy the taste of Diet Cherry Coke. So I like Cherry Coke Zero a lot. But I like Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi (DWCP) more than Cherry Coke Zero, or regular Cherry Coke. So to recap, if it’s a hot summer day, get me sodas in the following order: DWCP, Cherry Coke Zero, Diet Cherry Coke.
I love to make ice cream floats, but I don’t normally keep plain vanilla ice cream in the house. I’ve recently found that almost any “white” colored ice cream tastes great in Diet Coke. Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia and even the Peach Willy Nelson ice cream all taste amazing in a tall frosty glass.
Speaking of ice cream floats, on the way back from spring break I stopped at the A&W off Exit 191A (the best exit in America). When I asked the robot/person at the drive-thru for a small root beer float, she told me that someone had just ordered a large and not paid for it, so I could have a large for the price of a small. My inner poor college student leapt at the opportunity, but let me tell you something you’ve never been told in a snack food column by me before: there is too much of a good thing. My hands were sticky after one-fourth of the cup was gone. It is impossible to drive a car at high speeds and eat ice cream with a spoon, the root beer alone had 1,000 calories, and I think I heard my pancreas groan.
I drink enough diet Coke that I’m actually worried about my health. Every few months a report will come out linking artificial sweeteners to cancer, bone density problems, insanity, etc. Then other scientists come out and say, “Well those effects are only seen in rats that drink the equivalent of five sodas a day, and nobody does that.” Nobody except me. I’m hoping there’s an Erin Brokovich of diet soda when my time comes to fight The Man for my soda-inflicted injuries.
Diet Coke: I drink it for breakfast, I drink it with lunch. I drink it to avoid caffeine headaches, I drink it with ice cream for dessert, I drink it with vodka on weekends, I refill my cup before I leave a take-out place … basically I drink it all the time, and I love every sip.

*Editor’s Note: For those of you confused by this thing called “soda,” Charlie means pop. I know, I didn’t get it either.