Soda Wars: Coca-Cola changes its recipe

A can of Coca-Cola Zero.

Coca-Cola has changed the recipe of its Coca-Cola Zero Sugar drink, better known as Coke Zero.

The diet version of the original red can Coca-Cola, was first produced in 2005 and is supposed to mimic the sugary taste of coke, but with far less calories.

Coca-Cola claims it has created an “even more refreshing and delicious recipe”. However, not all fans are pleased with the decision.

Twitter backlash

On Twitter, users were complaining about the new drink. One user, Claudio (@RealClaudioG), expressed his disappointment, saying: “New Coke Zero formula definitely a downgrade from the old one. Fortunately remains better than Diet Coke for those of us that don’t want full sugar soda, but still disappointing they felt the need to change it.”

Another user, Bill (@WmPShea), said: “Please don’t change this! I love Coke Zero… it is. You tried this back in the mid-1980’s with ‘New Coke!’ Don’t try that again!”

1985’s failed ‘new coke’

Bill was referring to Coca-Cola’s 1985 decision to change the flavour of the full sugar red can Coca-Cola. It was called ‘New Coke’ and it was a sweetened version of the original recipe.

At the time, Pepsi had been biting into Coca-Cola’s market share, so, to revitalise sales, Coca-Cola decided on a recipe change.

Coca-Cola’s customer helpline received 1,500 complaints each day about the taste of the product during the month ‘New Coke’ was launched.

Fans of the original cans stockpiled them, an episode of the sit-com Golden Girls featured a joke that mocked the taste, and distraught fans even set up a lawsuit against Coca-Cola.

After only three months on sale, Coca-Cola said it would reinstate the original recipe, calling it ‘Coca-Cola Classic’. ‘New Coke’ was still sold alongside its original counterpart for some time, and its name was changed to ‘Coke II’ in 1992 before it was discontinued entirely in 2002.

The recipe change for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar could avoid the 1985 outcry as it is seemingly much less drastic. Coca-Cola has confirmed the listed ingredients and nutritional information will stay the same.

This is also not the first time Coca-Cola has reformulated their zero sugar coke. It was changed before in 2017.

Stores started stocking the new Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in July 2021 and the product is due to completely replace the old recipe cans by September.

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