Product Type: Coca-Cola Soft Drink
Newest Review: ... careful when you first open these bottles as they are very fizzy and if you don't get a mountain of fizz everywhere you most certainly wil... more
There's ALWAYS Coca-Cola
Member Name: cheffrey
Date: 29/04/12, updated on 17/05/12 (39 review reads)
Advantages: Occasionally drinkable
Disadvantages: Ubiquitous, and fairly gross overall
Coca-Cola needs no introduction. The ubiquitous fizzy brown drink is so interwoven into our collective consciousness and fabric of our culture that some people consider the arrival of the red truck advert on the TV to be the official start of the Christmas holidays. It's one of the symbols of 20th century capitalism, and looks like it's going to be one for the 21st century as well.
Coca-Cola was originally made in the 19th century and sold for medicinal purposes, with the caffeine and coca being the main parts. Although it is now devoid of Class A substances, its addictive qualities are no doubt still in play given how common it is.
This stuff gets everywhere. It's available in pretty much every bar, pub, vending machine, newsagents, supermarket and cinema. It's the beverage equivalent of Rattus rattus - seemingly uncontrollable populations of curvy plastic bottles and bright red cans seem to flock to a settlement as soon as the inhabitants move in. As a symbol of western commercialism, it was seen as so iconic it was used as a Maguffin in the quirky but rather patronising film 'The Gods Must Be Crazy', wherein an empty Coke bottle is dropped into a remote African village, creating imbalance and strife. Its message was pretty heavy handed, but the point remains valid.
This is all by the by when trying to review a fizzy drink, which is currently fizzing innocuosuly away in a tumbler on my desk. Or is it? I'm not so sure, as the drink itself is really quite unimpressive and almost horrible, at least to my tastebuds. There can't be too many people who haven't tried this stuff, but it's ludicrously sweet, pretty short on flavour that isn't 'Coke' flavour, and is very, very sticky. It has no doubt done irreparable damage to several generations of molars and countless acres of nightclub floors. As a mixer it's OK, if you don't want to taste whatever spirit it is you're blending and want to get bot-faced before you even realise it. On its own, it's undrinkable unless it's ice cold. Room-temperatute Coke is how I imagine crude-oil and aspartame to taste, and the thought of warming it up gives me goosebumps (and not in the good way that the intro of 'Clubbed to Death' by Rob D does). In fact, the only time Coca-Cola is ever really palatable is on a blazing hot summer's day when it comes straight from the fridge in a glass bottle. Plastic bottles make it taste, well, even more plastic. And tin cans are never nice to drink from, unless you're feeling particularly Rab C Nesbitt. Its aftertaste is fairly horrid, and needs a bit of shifting since it insists on coating the entire roof of your mouth and oesophagus and teeth and tongue and everything else with its viscous presence. I found it made me feel a bit uncomfortable too, with the big blood-sugar spike arriving like a wasp sting. I don't have a sweet tooth at all, really. Cheese on toast would have been a more sensible option.
It's also monumentally bad for you in any sort of regular dose. Unless you have teeth made of titanium and a gut that's made of stainless steel, there are all sorts of medical journals and the like floating around saying that it (alnong with soft drinks in general) is responsible for numerous ailments, with obesity being the main one. It's also supposed to dissolve teeth, though this was supposed to have been debunked by 'Mythbusters', though one wonders if that particular experiment really was totally impartial. It's also quite good for cleaning silverware, so I hear.
However, it's not ALL totally bad. A neat trick for settling a wobbly tummy is to drink a small quantity of flat Coke. I've tried this a few times, and it really does seem to work.
So, given that it's really fairly dreadful (well, I think so anyway), how has it done so well? It's probably the greatest lesson in advertising and marketing ever conceived, from hi-jacking Christmas to semi-myths about hi-jacking Santa Claus and striking deals with vending-machine suppliers and even not really bothering to cover up all that nasty business about setting up factories in the Third Reich, because there's no such thing as bad publicity.
It's also been rivalled by Pepsi for ages, though nobody ever thought that they would win out in that war (mind you, they said the same about Microsoft) as well as Virgin, if anyone remembers that. You can also pick up supermarket own-brands, which are vile, as well as make it yourself if you're feeling all nostalgic to have a play with that old Sodastream machine knocking around with a load of Boney M records and deely-boppers in that box in the garage you can't bring yourself to chuck out.
And it's also got a whole family of Coca-Cola subspecies that have come and gone extinct. Coca-Cola Vanilla, Orange (bleurgh) and BLAK have all been tested and found to be pretty horrid. Diet Coke exists for people who want to kid themselves, and does taste pretty different.
So if you want to get a lovely, refreshing drink on a hot day, I'd recommend the age old recipe of the cold water tap and a selection of ice cubes. If you want to know how to market something that shouldn't really be as popular as it is, read up on the history of Coca-Cola. But I wouldn't bother drinking it.
Summary: Life tastes good (and a lot better than Coke)