Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Only when I fall

Having pretty much given up such vices as drugs and booze the extent of my indulgence into illicit substances chiefly involves diet Coke, in all its corporate, chemical saturated glory. I’ve talked about this before, and specifically my overwhelming affection for the limited run of vanilla flavoured diet Coke, which encompassed both my addiction to the fizzy brown liquid and my preference for the blander side of confection. Unfortunately for me, the evil multinational Coca Cola company decided to terminate the infusion of synthetic vanilla flavour and went back to the same old cherry crap, along with the lime version that seems to have been around for ages.
For a number of months my life had that bit less colour, until one day I happened to visit a shop specialising in the importation of foreign confection and found a sliver of fizzy hope. A hope named Jazz.

Jazz diet Pepsi comes in two flavours, or at least two flavours that were in the shop’s fridge and hinted at the possibility of a near match.
First there is Jazz diet Pepsi Caramel Cream “Indulge your senses”. It says that above the name, trying to give you a reason to take it out of the fridge.

It tastes like the description suggests – creamy with a hint of caramel, a heavier, chocolatey taste that wasn’t found in the vanilla version of diet Coke. However, the aftertaste is less pleasing, being on the tinny side of metallic rather than the bloody copper taste of straight Coke and Coke Zero (which is also less than pleasant). I find a bit of the metallic aftertaste in diet Pepsi, so this could just be a Pepsi thing.

Also, the can looks the same but the volume is stated as 355ml rather than the 330ml UK (and possibly European) standard, most likely due to the metric division, with us getting around a third of a litre whilst the yanks go for 12 fluid ounces.

About a third of the way through the can and the caramel comes across as more unnatural, an unpleasing plasticness I tend to associate with cheap confectionary, whilst the cream is far less prominent than that of vanilla Coke and so can’t take up the slack.

Ultimately the choice of caramel may initially seem a good idea as the whole nature of fizzy drinks is a luxury, as with sweets and chocolate, and therefore more luxuriousness is surely more tempting (hence double choc chip etc.). However, the key flavouring in the sparkling water that is the cola has caramel origins in any case; can you have double caramel?

Jazz diet Pepsi Strawberries and Cream tastes more like a lollipop than any natural strawberry flavour, which is to be expected. There is a hint of cream that gives a tantalising glimpse of vanilla cola, but this is mostly drowned out by the boiled sweet tang of the strawberry. In this case there is no unpleasant aftertaste and no metallic hint, though it should be noted that this time I drank from a glass instead of the can, so it could just be the poor quality US can type that was affecting the flavour of the caramel Pepsi. The fact that this is closer to vanilla Coke makes it worse than the caramel in a way, like a prostitute wearing a mask of your dead wife.

It’s interesting that some (but not all) of the ingredients include explanations (eg. Potassium Benzoate (preserves freshness), Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect flavor) and that the UK food market hasn’t gone this way, considering the current fashion for healthy eating, organic food and such and such. The caffeine content is also quantified on the caramel flavour (38mg per can) that is another detail I’ve not seen in the UK.
As for the actual ingredients themselves, there are some old friends I remember from my piece after the launch of Coke Zero – Phosphoric Acid, Aspartame, Acesulfame K and Caramel colouring (E150d) all come as standard in your fizzy cola, but these two explained ingredients are new to me. Perhaps this is precisely why they feature explanations; the savvy cola connoisseur is perfectly aware of the make up of their favourite fizzy beverage, but confronted with some rogue elements they need to be soothed by the reasoning behind the introductions. We obviously won’t argue with preserving freshness, and the flavour is one of our chief reasons for consumption, surely? Therefore, Potassium Benzoate and Calcium Disodium EDTA can only be good things. As a preservative, Potassium Benzoate (E212) “inhibits the growth of mold, yeast and some bacteria” (Source:Wiki), which definitely sounds like a good thing, although there is a warning that mixing the substance with vitamin C can create the carcinogen Benzene. Whilst cancer is no laughing matter I rarely find myself mixing coke and orange, but it’s useful to know what you shouldn’t be washing vitamin pills down with. A time frame between coke and vitamin C ingestion would be useful, but I don’t fancy risking cancer in order to carry out the tests.
Calcium Disodium EDTA (or ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is actually used in soft drinks to help prevent the formation of benzene, so we can all rest easy when partaking of the luxury alternative to water.

Ultimately disappointing, ‘normal’ diet Coke, diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max are preferable (though maybe not Zero), let alone the holy grail of vanilla diet Coke.

Filthy Jazz Pepsi.

Also, the pictures are crap because of my camera and because my eyesight has withered after two years of a desk bound screen based job.


My latest DVD review (of Pulse) can be found in the links to the right.


  1. "like a prostitute wearing a mask of your dead wife".

    Best line you've ever written.

  2. I can't claim to have come up with the idea though, it's definitely inspired from the Day Today sketch parodying Pulp singing about Myra Hindley.