Coke Zero is changing their formula to taste more like regular Coke: why?!

When Diet Pepsi changed their formula from aspartame to sucralose back in 2015, without warning customers I might add, I switched from a Diet Pepsi drinker to Coke Zero. My cousins introduced me to it at a family reunion and I was hooked. I’m not one of those people who drinks diet soda all day, but I have one Coke Zero every day mid-morning and consider it a nice treat. However that may be about to change for me. Coca-cola has announced that they’re changing the formula for Coke Zero to taste more like regular Coke. Supposedly they’re not changing the ingredients at all, which is good news for those of us who hate Splenda, but will adjust them to achieve a different taste. Here’s more:

The Coca-Cola Co… has announced plans to change the formula of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in an effort to get it to taste more like the company’s flagship drink. The revised product will begin appearing in stores this month.

The new Coke Zero Sugar doesn’t contain new ingredients, but officials say the tweaks will make the drink taste more like Coke’s classic flavor. The company also plans to repackage the drink in a way that will also make Coke’s prominent logo more visible.

Coca-Cola shied away from new flavors and formula changes for a long time after its ill-fated 1985 attempt to change the flavor of Coke. In 2019, however, it unveiled its first new flavor in over a decade, introducing Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar.

[From Fortune]

I don’t understand why companies do this. They mess with a product to see if they can get more sales that but risk alienating their loyal customer base. It’s short-sighted and screws their consumers! New Coke didn’t go over very well, remember that? When Diet Pepsi switched their formula they ended up bringing back an aspartame version a year later for people who missed it.

I love the way Coke Zero tastes and I don’t want it to change. I’ll buy one six pack with the new formula to give it a chance, but it will be a while before I resort to drinking it. I’m about to go buy out my local grocery store of Coke Zero.

Why did you make your Instagram and Twitter private, Coke Zero? (It may have been that way for a while but still.)

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53 Responses to “Coke Zero is changing their formula to taste more like regular Coke: why?!”

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  1. 123qwerty says:

    I blame the Royal Family.

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      LOLOLOLOLOLOL. LOVE it!! 😄 😄 😄

      My guilty pleasure treat is having a Coke Zero with lunch. I’d been cutting down (with the artificial sweeteners), but I love the fact that this soda doesn’t have aspartame, and while splenda isn’t the greatest either, I feel it’s a little “safer”. Coke Zero is the only other diet soda (along with Hanes) that doesn’t have that “after taste”. And on a really hot day, an ice cold Coke Zero is sublime!!!

      I do NOT want them messing with my Coke Zero!!!

      • Leslie says:

        I thought Coke Zero did have aspartame? That’s why I didn’t buy it because I saw it on the label. Or am I thinking of something else?

      • ItReallyIsYouNotMe says:

        😂😂😂😂 It’s definitely the Royal Family’s fault! I am a Coke Zero drinker but only because it’s a low calorie version of my real first love, regular coke….so I suspect that I will be happy about this change. My mom used to say that she couldn’t even drink original Coke once she was used to Diet Coke because it was too sugary, but I called shenanigans on that BS.

  2. Kviby says:

    I can’t say if it was comparatively sweet or not but I loved coke life because it had stevia and a bit of sugar. I try to avoid Splenda and aspartame and I also don’t want to drink a cup of sugar. So really I avoid pop in general because I don’t want it badly enough to go to a health food store and pay a lot for a stevia one but when there was coke life I had options!! Maybe it will come back or maybe people just don’t want stevia

    • Joanna says:

      Yes Coke Life was my favorite! So they did discontinue it? I just knew my Publix didn’t have it anymore. It was the perfect combination IMO. Coke Zero still has that diet taste to me. I LOVE Coke Life

    • jwoolman says:

      I don’t like the taste of stevia or the artificial sweeteners. Even sucralose – like stevia, it tasted ok to me when I first drank products with it, but I got to the point of really disliking it.

      But I’ve discovered that stevia is ok when whatever bothers me about it is drowned out by real sugar (as in Crystal Light Pure) , fruit juices, or sugar alcohols (xylitol and erythritol have always tasted fine to me, and I get a few grams of xylitol spread out over the day for oral health). The same seems to be true for sucralose. And the amount of even real sugar doesn’t have to be enormous to counteract the stevia taste for me – such drinks typically have just a few calories from the real sugar.

      Zevia sodas went to stevia only quite a while ago and lost me. Their flavors were good, but the aftertaste with only stevia was bad. I found an ancient can of Zevia ginger beer on a shelf and OF COURSE took my life in my hands to drink it anyway, and was surprised that it tasted really good. Checked the label, and I think it was sweetened with one of the sugar alcohols (maybe xylitol?) and monk fruit in addition to stevia. Got all excited, looked for it at Kroger’s, and then found out that since then they switched to only stevia because it sounded “healthier” and “natural”. Blah.

      If the soda companies would just get off the track of insisting on “zero calories” and allow for a handful of calories (really, how much difference could that possibly make?!? Contrary to calorie counter mythology, food databases and energy needs calculations are only quite approximate anyway), they could taste much better. The energy drinks often do just that, and they still have a market.

      I vaguely remember drinking a can of Coke Zero many years ago and thinking that it actually tasted ok to me. Maybe it didn’t have aspartame?

      I don’t like the switch Coke and then others in the US made from sucrose (cane sugar) to high fructose corn syrup. During the transition, they had labels with both on them as an either/or but I could always tell the difference just from the taste. I don’t drink a lot of such sodas but try to get ones with real sugar in them when I do. I must not be the only one.

      Coca Cola saved me when I routinely got bad sinus headaches – sipping 6 fluid ounces of the “real thing” with sugar ( not diet) cut the horrible wouldn’t-mind-if-I-died nausea from six hours to a half hour. So I used to keep a 12 pack on hand for medicinal purposes! An old timey nausea remedy was cocoa cola syrup with some simple sugars like glucose. I’ve always assumed phosphoric acid, real sugar, and some cola berry were the active ingredients. Not sure if Coke has real cola berry extract any more, though.

      • Betsy says:

        I, too, have wondered why they just don’t do a lower sugar Coke. I liked Coke Life, too, but it came out at a time that I was trying to avoid soda altogether, so I didn’t drink it. A regular soda with just less sugar – not erythritol! not stevia! not aspartame! – would be something I would like. I KNOW soda is terrrrrible for a person, sue me. I like it sometimes. They’d have to change the formula quite a bit, but do it, Coke! Come on!

        I have tried those “dry sodas” and they’re just gross to me. They appear as if they’re meant to appeal to people who really like alcohol but who are avoiding alcohol. They’re a little too harsh for me, not quite with that alcoholic burn but just a little too bracing.

  3. Leslie says:

    I wish they’d make a non-aspartame version because I don’t want to drink that.

    • TeamMeg says:

      I recently discovered Zevia soft drinks—sweetened with stevia. Many flavors, and they come packaged in 6-pack cans. The Ginger Root Beer is my fave but they have a cola, too. Might be worth trying if you are avoiding artificial sweeteners.

  4. Marty says:

    Cherry Coke Zero slaps, it’s better than regular in my opinion, and if they change it I will be upset.

    First the Mexican coke distribution problem, now this?!

    • Truthiness says:

      Wait, what Mexican coke distribution problem?

    • Renee says:

      There’s a Mexican Coke distribution problem? I love Mexican Coke! I’m headed to Costco now to see if they have any!

    • Marty says:

      Apparently, there is some kind of tariff issue? Here in Houston it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the cases.

      • Truthiness says:

        Oh crap, you’re closer to the source. Hope they sort the tariff issue out because Mexican pepsi is not as great as the coke!

    • Darla says:

      Same Marty! Cherry coke zero is it.

  5. Alexandria says:

    Wait what? Coke Zero Sugar in my country already tastes very similar to regular coke. So I have that if I crave Coke, which is rare.

    • Alexandria says:

      Oh sorry it’s the Coke No Sugar that tastes very similar to regular Coke. I actually don’t like Coke Zero, don’t come at me lol

  6. Mina_Esq says:

    It’s the only pop I drink! I’m outraged lol

  7. Ella says:

    They did this in Australia. They changed “Coke Zero,” which was easy to say and sounded catchy, to “Coke No Sugar” which is not at all catchy and doesn’t taste the same as “Coke Zero.”

    They claimed that Australians voted with their wallets and chose “Coke No Sugar” while “Coke Zero” was still on the shelves, but I could never find Coke Zero anywhere once they introduced the new one.

    They claim they’re trying to better replicate the taste of original Coke with the new recipe, but drinkers of Coke Zero are not used to the taste of original Coke, they’re used to the taste of Coke Zero.

    I hope that rant made sense. I feel like I used the word “Coke” a lot.

  8. Truthiness says:

    I don’t drink soda daily but Mexican Coke in the glass bottles is 10/10.

    • terra says:

      Yes, yes, yes. I mean, maybe I’m boring, but I just drink regular Coke, although Mexican Coke is my favorite – there’s a taco truck in the shopping center next to our apartment and they sell it there along with some decent beef tacos. Not as good as the truck next to my old place, but this apartment is much nicer, so it evens out.

      I grew up drinking Dr. Pepper, but that’s become far too sweet for me. These days it’s water, hot tea, the occasional Coke, and the slightly-more-frequent ginger ale, but I was ancient before my time. I mean, my favorite cereal growing up was Raisin Bran (also too sweet now) and my favorite cake was carrot cake (this remains true).

      • Truthiness says:

        I get it at the grocery store, 4 for $5. I am usually drinking lemon water and green juices but Mexican Coke is the treat I keep on hand if I really need it.

      • terra says:

        See, you’re going the economically sensible route. I know I should play it smart like you and not pay more than necessary, but I’ve turned into one of those ‘if I don’t have it here, I can’t eat or drink too much of it kind of people.’

        It started two apartments ago because I didn’t have room for a lot of extras, but then I noticed that I was snacking less on less healthy, sodium-bomb-type items simply because they weren’t on hand for me to grab.

        My taste buds love salt . . . my blood pressure less so.

      • Truthiness says:

        LOL Terra, my coworker keeps a drawer of crisp salty snacks. Around 4 o clock if you are stressed and tired some super crispy chips hits the spot.

    • LadyMTL says:

      OMG yes it is! There are a few restos around here that sell it, and I always make sure to grab a bottle. I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners in general (though I can tolerate Diet Dr. Pepper in small doses) so I will drink the regular stuff on the occasions I do have soda.

      I probably wouldn’t even notice a difference between old Coke Zero and this new Coke Zero, lol.

    • faithmobile says:

      But have you tried Mexican Coke Zero? it comes in a tiny bottle and tastes almost identical to regular Coke. If this is the new formula I’d be really happy. Until then I’ll stick to an ice cold Zevia.

  9. Trillion says:

    once in a while my local grocery store has coke sweetened with part sugar and part Stevia and it comes in glass bottles. When I see it, I always get several 6 packs because it’s such a rare sighting. But agree w/ above poster: Mexican Coke in the a bottle is amazing and there’s just nothing like it.

  10. JJ says:

    IS THAT WHAT HAPPENED?? I used to love Diet Pepsi and drank one every afternoon too and then suddenly one day I thought my taste buds changed and so I switched to Coke Zero. I didn’t realize they’d changed the formula.

    This is awful news re: Coke Zero. My husband is hooked on his coffee which I could take or leave but I really love my one diet cola a day. Am seriously bummed. Maybe I can hoard some cases now…

    • Dee says:

      Diet Pepsi also goes flat very quickly. Once it’s opened and also if it’s been in storage for a few months unopened.

      • Charlie says:

        Most soft drinks have an expiration date stamped on them somewhere. Past that date flavors start to change – something to think about if your stocking up…

      • JJ says:

        Huh interesting. I’ve been finding the coke zeros in small cans have been weird lately as well, where 50% off the time I’m getting a weird case that taste bad. Maybe where I am the products are old.

      • JJ says:

        Re: Charlie, so yeah I guess that’s a good point I can’t stock up too much…

  11. manda says:

    I thought the whole point of coke zero was to taste like regular coke, which it does. I drink diet coke and if they changed the recipe, I’d be really upset too

  12. Lori says:

    I am livid about this!!!

  13. Cee says:

    Coca Cola did this DECADES ago and people in the US would buy bottles and pour them down the drain, forcing the company to change it back to the original. You would have thought the company had learned from that experience, but no.

    I’m on an elimination diet due to poor health and had a sip of Coke Zero after a week of only drinking water and I almost spit it out. It was so sugary I physically cringed lol

  14. Teebee says:

    I love Coke Zero. Buy flats and flats, always have tons in my house. If Coke wants to change it, I am always open to trying it, and if it tastes better, yay. As long as it tastes NOTHING like Diet Pepsi. That stuff tastes like bitter soda water.

    I don’t agree with changing the packaging. I can see people mixing up regular Coke and Coke Zero. But then again, brands tweak and change all the time, we all eventually get used to it. Bet Coke loves the attention they’re getting. I heard sales were down on Coke Zero… though I find that hard to believe. It’s often almost sold out in our stores, and when they release limited edition flavours, like cherry coke and orange vanilla, they are instantly sold out!

  15. Galisteo says:

    There was a Cinnamon Coke over the holiday season 2019-2020 that I loved! Don’t know why they haven’t made it since.

    • Giddy says:

      For years I stayed away from real Coke. But then I tasted Orange Vanilla Coke. Horrors! I love the stuff and am shamefully addicted. I secretly buy just one when I’m at Walmart, and dream of having a six pack in the fridge. *sigh*

    • tealily says:

      That stuff was bomb.

    • jwoolman says:

      I really liked the cinnamon Coke also (non-diet) and only recently drank the last of my stash… What does not work: letting cinnamon candy soak in Coke. Yes, I tried.

      I do like the orange vanilla one also. I think they had a lime one years ago that was good. Or maybe I tried squirting some lime juice in it.

      I should try adding the really good organic lemon juice I use now, which has a lot of flavor. The stuff my mother always bought in the stores in the plastic squirter bulbs or small bottles (Real Lemon? how misnamed) just had so little flavor. Hardly tasted like lemon at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        Real Coke (ideally with real sugar, but even with corn syrup or whatever the “normal” formula is made of now) has long been a headache and illness go-to for generations of family and friends growing up. Ginger ale too, though that’s more for nausea and some would say both are best medicinally taken flat. Everyone I know who subscribes to this was never a “soda” family, and LOVE that they make the mini size cans now-a perfect size to have on hand in case of that awful headache or stomachache!

    • Trillion says:

      you know what I just invented that I think you’d love? Horchata ice cream float with Coke Zero. It’s so damn good. Scratches that cinnamon itch!

    • North of Boston says:

      During 2020 a lot of food product companies cut back their offerings. It’s not that there was a shortage or a distribution problem, they just focused on their top selling products.
      I remember that lots of variations of Coke disappeared, as did Diet AW root beer (which is fantastic with dark rum over ice with a mint sprig !)

      Stuff is slowly starting to reappear, but I’m betting many products are just gone for good.

  16. February-Pisces says:

    I hate the taste of regular coke, and Coke Zero. When your used to drinking Diet Coke your can’t go back, it tastes like pure sugar in comparison.

  17. tealily says:

    I thought Coke Zero was meant to taste like regular Coke. Like, Coke knew they couldn’t mess with Diet Coke because people are addicted like fiends to that stuff, but they wanted an alternative that actually tasted like regular Coke. I suppose they could keep coming out with new diet brands that taste increasingly like the real thing. I don’t drink Coke Zero, so I’m not invested in this at all, but it seems like it makes sense.

  18. Usedtobe says:

    Well this makes me glad that I like Diet Coke!
    I used to drink Diet Pepsi but coke is it!
    This makes me think about the cola wars of years passed!

  19. Imara219 says:

    Oh no 😢! I love Coke Zero. Real Coke is too rough and acidic. I usually stick to Pepsi products but if I can’t my go to is Cherry Coke Zero or Coke Zero. Yuck! Anyone interested check out the Soda Wars episode of The Foods that Made America. It was a hoot to see the race between Coke and Pepsi.

  20. AnsiPansi says:

    They already changed Coca Cola Zero in my country (Sweden) like 6-12 months ago to the new design and taste. I thought the new taste was fine but initially I still prefered the old taste because it has it’s own taste apart from the regular Coca Cola that contains sugar. But the new flavour actually tastes more like the regular Coca cola than the old one does so they have succeeded with that. I pretty quickly got used to the new taste, and it tastes good actually but doesn’t have that special after taste that the old Coca Cola Zero had that made it different from regular Coca Cola. But it still tastes good.

    Edit: I’m actually suprised they haven’t changed the Coca Cola Zero in US yet as we had it changed so long ago. Maybe they used Europeans as guinea pigs or something, LOL