By end of the 19th century, Coca-Cola was elbowing its way onto drug store counters as a mixed flavoring choice for soda waters, next to mainstays like lemon, cherry, vanilla, and raspberry. Over time, Coca-Cola later incorporated some of those flavors into its own cans, although the thought of raspberry being included didn't seem very likely. In 2005, the company broke the mold and test-marketed Raspberry Coke and Diet Coke Raspberry in New Zealand. Five years later, when Coca-Cola unleashed its Freestyle machine, allowing drinkers to mix their favorite Coke products however they like, raspberry was one of those new flavor options. Based on the incredible market research those machines give off, Coca-Cola realized the fruit was a popular choice, with over 5 million pours alone in 2022, and moved forward with it to "spice" things up. In 2024, the company is adding Coca-Cola Spiced and Coca-Cola Spiced Zero Sugar to its lineup.
The fine folks at Coca-Cola invited us to take a sip of these new raspberry-tinged Spiced-girls, plus a sneak preview of another product, Happy Tears Zero Sugar, and let us decide if they were berry good or a rotten crop. This sip and review is based on taste, aftertaste, texture, and overall lovability.
Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer.
Read more: The 14 Best Sugar-Free Sodas Ranked
What Does Coca-Cola Spiced Taste Like?
Before I took a single sip of Coca-Cola Spiced, the flavor was explained to us by Sue Lynne Cha, vice president of marketing for Coca-Cola North America. As she described, "It really starts with a refreshing burst of raspberry, which is combined with our iconic Coca-Cola formula, and then it really ends with a hint of warm spice." She added, "It's not spicy, but it's the boldest innovation that we've done."
I cracked open a can, and a single whiff emitted a hard-to-place fruit aroma that smelled oddly reminiscent of Extra Classic Bubble chewing gum. Poured into a glass, it has the familiar dark brown opaque look of Coca-Cola, with a red tint to it that can only be seen in daylight.
Taking my first sip, my initial overall take on the flavor profile landed somewhere between a fruity bubble gum or perhaps a palatable cough syrup. The more and more I tasted it, the familiar Coca-Cola taste kicked off the sips, followed by raspberry notes that started to play a bit louder and hung around the gums long after it went down my throat. Coca-Cola Spiced has less of a bite than regular Coca-Cola and therefore went down easier, allowing for a more fluid drinking experience.
What Does Coca-Cola Spiced Zero Sugar Taste Like?
Since Coca-Cola Zero Sugar closely resembles the genuine article, more so than Diet Coke ever did, I expected the Zero Sugar version of Coca-Cola Spiced to follow suit. Like the full-on Spiced version, it, too, has a bubble gum-y smell to it and a dark brown hue, though there's less of a red tint to it.
Coca-Cola Spiced Zero Sugar seems to be mostly devoid of a fruit flavor and tasted more like a biting but flat pour of Coca-Cola. In a way, it reminded me more of the dearly departed and discontinued diet Tab cola the company used to sell. That is a taste I would certainly welcome the return of, but since this is supposed to be a diet version of Coca-Cola Spiced, I would have to say it didn't exactly hit the mark.
Coca-Cola Spiced Nutritional Information
Coca-Cola Spiced consists of carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, and caffeine. A single can of Spiced contains 150 calories, 30 milligrams of sodium, and 41 grams of total carbohydrates, all of which are added sugars. It contains no fat and 32 milligrams of caffeine content for a 12-fluid-ounce can.
Coca-Cola Spiced Zero Sugar is made up of carne aged water and less than 2% of caramel color, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, aspartame, sodium benzoate (to protect taste), sodium citrate, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and caffeine. It also contains phenylalanine. One 12-fluid-ounce can is good for 55 milligrams of sodium and zeros across the board in the categories of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
How To Buy Coca-Cola Spiced
On February 19, 2024, Coca-Cola Spiced and Coca-Cola Spiced Zero Sugar will officially become permanent additions to the Coca-Cola roster of sodas for sale in the United States and Canada. Both versions of Coca-Cola Spiced will be available in 12-ounce sleek cans, standard 12-ounce cans in 12 packs, and 20-ounce plastic bottles. Additionally, Coca-Cola Spiced will be available in 10-pack of mini-cans, ½-liter 6-packs, and 2-liter plastic bottles.
The Spiced sodas will be available at most national retailers, and price varies per location. A fountain drink version of Coca-Cola Spiced will not be available when the product launches.
The Final Verdict
In a food and beverage world where everyone is looking to heat things up with a bit or even a lot of spice, it's interesting that Coca-Cola's first foray with the use of the word wouldn't be spicy at all. When I first heard the name Coca-Cola Spiced, I had the sensory image of a blaring red Atomic FireBall candy soaking in a bottle of Coca-Cola. Sounded like a nice cool drink with a warming appeal, perfect for comfort during a long winter.
What we got instead, where Coca-Cola plays host to a mild touch of raspberry and other hard-to-place flavors, was a nice surprise and welcome addition to the company's roster. I polished off a can of the easygoing Coca-Cola Spiced rather quickly and didn't feel that usual sugary and bloated feeling normal Coke happily gives me. I am a habitual Diet Coke drinker, and since regular Coke isn't on my daily radar and more like a rare treat, I would hold Coca-Cola Spiced in the same regard. It's nice that the Zero Sugar version is an option that exists, but in this case, it's better to just indulge with the full-on Spiced Coke than the kinda-Spiced one.
Bonus: Coca-Cola Happy Tears Zero Sugar
If unveiling two new permanent sodas for the first time in three years wasn't enough, Coca-Cola also announced the limited-edition flavor Happy Tears Zero Sugar as part of its Creations collection, which, as the company wrote in a press release, "explores the realms of the surreal, the imaginary, and the otherworldly." Sue Lynne Cha said the limited-quantity drink will be available only in the United States and Great Britain and is "the first Coke that we're launching exclusively through TikTok." Happy Tears Zero Sugar will be available to spread "drops of joy" starting on February 17, to coincide with National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
I was able to take a few swigs of the drink made "with a dash of minerals for taste" at the presentation, and I sadly did not shed a single tear. I gave it more of a shoulder shrug, as it tasted like regular old Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to me. What I did love about Happy Tears, in my brief encounter with it, was its sleek and unique design. It comes in a very reflective, tall silver can that has a frozen-in-place, curvy, goopy tear that lines its way down the spine. Whether TikTokers will dance to the taste of the Coca-Cola Creation, I cannot say, but it certainly is camera-ready and ready for its close-up.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.