I'd heard the rumors before. Mostly on Chowhound, but I'd heard them nonetheless. "Mexican coke is really good," they said. "Better than regular." They claim the difference is because Mexican coke is made with real sugar cane, while coke produced in the U.S. is sweetened with the evil, body-polluting corn syrup.
I didn't really think much about it. Coke is coke, right? Nothing particularly special -- a means to reach a caffeinated end.
Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a coke from time to time -- mostly when I am sick, flying on an airplane, or am eating something like pizza or burgers -- but more often than not I prefer a frosty root beer or sparkling pomegranate Izze soda when I'm craving something fizzy. Despite the nostalgia attached to the red can, coke has been relegated to the back-burner for me. Once my favorite childhood weekend treat, coke is now something I associate with negatives -- empty calories, jittery nerves and teeth erosion.
Yet when I was preparing to go to Galco's Old School Grocery to collect obscure root beers for a good friend, I heard the rumors about the superiority of Mexican coke once again. This time from my roommate's boyfriend, who giddily requested that I bring him back one. He insisted that I also purchase one for myself, and I decided to heed his advice. He was so excited about the gosh darn thing, I couldn't help but be caught up in his wide-eyed enthusiasm. I bought myself a bottle of the $1.79 Coca-Cola, and the next day, proceeded to test out the highly tauted soda.
I could taste the difference from the first sip. It was better. Much better. The fizzy beverage didn't coat my mouth with that bitter aftertaste that I often experience when drinking a coke. It was sweeter (the sugar cane perhaps?), yet not in an off-putting way. While I normally cannot finish a whole can of coke, I couldn't imagine not finishing this bottle. I was enjoying it so thoroughly that as I neared the bottom, I felt compelled to do my own reenactment of those coke commercials where a young adult is walking through a New York City neighborhood chugging a bottle of coke. I picked up the bottle, still glossy with condensation, stood up, and downed the rest in one breath. "Ahhh." I moaned, smiling to myself.
It was exactly how I used to feel when drinking a coke as a child. It was a treat. A memorable experience. And one I am more than happy to have again.