Europe >= America, episode 1: Coke Zero

Anyone that spends thirty minutes with me will learn that I love soda, specifically products made by the Coca-Cola company.

In the past, I was a Diet Coke gal, but then Coke Zero stole my heart.

Anyone that spends a day with me will realize that caffeine has a powerful effect on my system. In the US and Ireland, I tried to manage that by drinking caffeine-free Diet Coke as much as possible.

Then we moved to Luxembourg.

For those not as knowledgeable about the world of Coke, Diet Coke is not sold on the Continent. Instead, we get Coke Light. The formulations are different enough that while I can drink Coke Light, I do not enjoy it as much as Diet Coke — and Coke Zero blows them both out of the water. Slowly, over the last two years, I’ve been drinking less and less Coke Light “sans caféine” and more and more Coke Zero… with all the caffeine.

In a perfect world, Coke would produce a caffeine free version of Coke Zero. However, I learned during my correspondence with the Coca-Cola company that they wanted to build the Coke Zero brand before putting additional versions on the market.Bottle Coke Zero (Yes, I did write them. Yes, I did receive a personal response.)

Then, a miracle happened. In February, I was on a business trip in the Netherlands. I was discussing my soda habit with a colleague and I mentioned that one of my greatest desires was caffeine-free Coke Zero. I nearly fell off my chair when he replied, “Oh, they have that.”

Indeed they do. Since February 2010, France has been selling it. France was the first country in the world to get caffeine-free Coke Zero. The Netherlands got it in January 2011. When I learned all this, my heart raced — and I had to get to France!

On the first possible Saturday morning, I coaxed Will into the car and we drove to the closest chain grocery store across the border. As we walked through the store, I dared to dream. Would they have it? How much should I buy? We headed down the soda aisle and there is was, in all its black and gold glory.

I would have bought it all. Will convinced me to stop after 16 six-packs and 11 one-point-five liter bottles. The cart (and the car) were a joyous wonder of Zero.

The only aspect that took a small shine off the day was the prospect of shopping in France every three or four weeks, to resupply. But that wasn’t a big deal, with the border so close, and I was smiling all the way back to Luxembourg.
Trunk full of awesome
Can Coke ZeroI’m happy to report that Coke Zero “sans caféine” is just as tasty as the regular. I’ve slowly titrated down from the caffeinated variety, as to not feel the effects of going cold turkey. I thought that life couldn’t get better.

I was wrong.

I was shopping at our local grocery store the very next weekend after our trip to France. Will needed some regular old Coke, with sugar and caffeine — because he is a (pudgy) rebel! As we rolled down the aisle, I could not believe what was on the shelf in front of me — Coke Zero “sans caféine” had arrived in Luxembourg!
Case Coke Zero
It was a miracle! I would no longer have to drive to France to get my beverage of choice — it had come to me. Life could not be any better…

…unless I could convince them to start stocking Diet 7-up again!

13 Comments to “Europe >= America, episode 1: Coke Zero”

  1. Dave said...
    29 March 2011

    Your cart looks like one of those people who stocked up when they pulled Coke Classic from the market!

    I can’t wait until they release Caffeine Free Coke Zero in the states. I’ve already done the translation of the name for them!

  2. Amanda said...
    29 March 2011

    Ha! I did not know that about you.

    I have made the switch from Coke Light to Coke Zero. But I have no interest in giving up the caffeine. Pity the poor Nespresso Lady who tried to sell me on decafe Nespresso. I told her, in my best bad French, that if I want to imbibe in a decafe product, I’ll drink water, thank you muchly.

    My kid was horrified.

  3. Anita said...
    29 March 2011

    Amanda – you haven’t spent time with me 1) at work or 2) driving in the car, both activities where drinking wine is severely frowned upon.

    When we take a long road trip, you’ll see the addiction if full force!

    Way to fight back at the Nespresso Lady – you know what you want. Plus, it is a parents job to embarrass the children. My folks told me that all the time :-)

  4. Laurie said...
    29 March 2011

    Anita, I could TOTALY hear you speaking as I read this post. And I can see the look of glee and the tiny accompanying hand claps as you drove to the Cora. And the squeal of delight that must have occured when you recognized the now beloved black and gold cans… Funny, funny stuff…

  5. Laurie said...
    5 April 2011

    Maybe the Bakker Bugle Taste Testers need to do a comparison of Coke Zero to Coke Zero sans Caffene?

  6. Laurie said...
    5 April 2011

    And I just noticed the single bottle of Fanta (don’tcha wanta Fanta?) and bottle of REAL Coke in the cart. Good cover for your trafficing CZsC across the border…

  7. Matt Enders said...
    28 April 2011

    Way to go girl! Doing your patriotic duty buying a US brand over there. My grandfather said that he used to throw bottles of Diet Coke out of the jeep to the kids after we had liberated England from the Nazis.

  8. Dave said...
    9 May 2011

    And now that Paris has Chipolte, it seems Europe has gained ground on America once more.

  9. Anita said...
    10 May 2011

    If we manage to get a Panera in Europe, it’s all over. Europe will have the win!

  10. Rich said...
    10 May 2011

    I hope you own stock in Coca Cola. You’re certainly helping their bottom line. I also fully agree with the Panera comment. If we got one of those in Lux, I would go every day.

  11. Anita said...
    10 May 2011

    In fact, shares of Coca Cola are part of the Bugle investment portfolio! I can consume with less guilt :-)

  12. LaoK said...
    2 November 2011

    Matt Enders said…

    “My grandfather said that he used to throw bottles of Diet Coke out of the jeep to the kids after we had liberated England from the Nazis.”

    He must have been throwing it out of his time machine though. Diet Coke wasn’t introduced until 1982.

  13. Shawn said...
    23 February 2012

    I don’t know what you guys are all hyped up about the only reason I drink coke is for the caffeine (and 0 calories so I don’t get fat)