STAFF OPINION: Diet Coke isn’t a drink, it’s an experience

By Kate Cuadrado | March 22, 2022 1:09pm

Canva by Kate Cuadrado.

I have an addiction to Diet Coke, and I’m tired of pretending like I don't.

There are worse things to be addicted to, I don't have to list them for you here. But Diet Coke is my vice, and this is me publicly owning up to it. 

I started seriously drinking Diet Coke at age 17. Before this, I was a hardcore Dr. Pepper girl through and through. However, with a diagnosis of type-1 diabetes at age 17, I switched to “diet,” or no sugar drinks in order to keep my blood sugar from spiking. It was then that I discovered how truly life changing the experience of drinking Diet Coke is. 

It has been said that when it comes to Diet Coke, the people who get it, get it, and the people who don't, don't. However, for the sake of all you “people who don't, don't,” I will try and explain just what it is about Diet Coke that gives it such a cult following. 

In real life and online, I have seen the identification of “diet coke girlies” (which, let’s be honest, is a genderless ideology — we can all be Diet Coke girlies, regardless of if you identify as a “girl” or not) grow into more than just a group of people who drink Diet Coke. 

Now, full disclosure, I’m not even sure if I should be telling you all this. The cult, I mean, experience, of Diet Coke is a very treasured endeavor that us Diet Coke lovers hold very close to the chest. But I’m no gatekeeper, so here it goes. 

First, the bubbles. They’re refreshing in a sharp way, like jumping into freezing lake water after a run on a hot day. It doesn't matter how you drink it, the crack of a can, the whisper that escapes from opening a bottle, the bubbling noise as it goes from soda fountain to paper cup, tumbling like a caramel colored waterfall over the ice. Then comes the flavor. Sweet, not like candy or Sprite or even normal Coke — it’s a whole other flavor profile that you can really only reach with the drink itself. 

But it's not just the experience of sipping the drink that brings me so much joy. It’s the aesthetic value as well. The bold lettering is the perfect true red, and it stands out brilliantly against the shimmering silver can or label. And, the caffeine content (46 grams per 12 ounce can) is enough to cure a headache, yet still subtle enough to not keep you up at night when you drink your nightly can at dinner time. 

Suburban moms love it for the low caloric value, but (pardon my French) I couldn't really give a shit about calories. That's not what we're here for. However, the appeal of zero calories does bring in the older generation, and I can personally testify that loving diet coke has been a topic of bonding between my *age redacted* year-old mother and I. Going to the movies, we always split a large popcorn and a large Diet Coke. Diet Coke binds us. It says, “I see you, mom,” and “I understand you, daughter.” Look at me and tell me another drink that can do that. 

Now, I want to help you understand my passion for Diet Coke by telling you what Diet Coke is not. Diet Coke is not Coke Zero, and honestly? I’m a little offended that you would even imply their similarity. Yes, they are both under the Coca-Cola label and are sugar free and zero calories, but us die-hard fans know the difference, and that Diet Coke is so much better than Coke Zero. In order to get its delectable flavor without a blood sugar spike, Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame, while Coke Zero is sweetened with aspartame as well as acesulfame potassium. This acesulfame potassium causes a lengthy lingering aftertaste that Diet Coke doesn’t have: a sickly flavor that clings to the back of your throat and just doesn't go down as smoothly as Diet Coke. 

I have no intention of cutting down my Diet Coke consumption. Instead, I’m using this article to encourage you to engage in the Diet Coke experience. Join us. Join the Diet Coke girlies. And see just how life-changing it can be. 

Kate Cuadrado is the Sports Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at 

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