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The Real Thing, hecho in Mexico
March 19, 2006 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Want the real "Real Thing", plenty of people know to look for the yellow cap and stock up on some passover Coke. But unsanctioned by the corporation, Mexican Coke is now showing up in the USA, in the old fashioned glass bottles.
posted by 445supermag (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This askmefi has lots on other country's formulations, and the mexican coke thing is all over the blogs.
posted by 445supermag at 8:26 AM on March 19, 2006


Well, I won't give Coca-Cola the satisfaction of shutting down any of our local entrepeneurs, but I have to say that I have seen the "hecho in Mexico" product in some outlets near here.

This is not recent--I haven't ahd any soda in nearly four years, but I had some of the glass bottle coca-cola before that and yes, it tasted like the product I remember from a misspent youth hanging out at gas stations with the chest-style dispenser where you moved your bottle into position and pushed the lever down to remove the collar lock at the end of the chute.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:29 AM on March 19, 2006


I used to do my spring breaks in Sonora, and the nostalgia I feel for walking into a doorless, dark, cramped market and sliding open the sticky cool beverage cooler for a big glass bottle of Coke is overwhelming.

Well, there's the memories--and they're nice--but I think it was really the cane sugar that did it for me. sweet!
posted by carsonb at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2006


When I was in a shop in Mexico I bought a Coke just for the huge ornate bottle it came in-- and then the shopkeeper wouldn't let me leave with it (apparently the bottles are reused?). Ultimately the only way she would let me leave the store with my drink was to pour my coke into a plastic bag, which I had to drink out of with a long straw.
posted by hermitosis at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2006


Mahatmoros Puebla, near me, sells the Mexican Coke (everything within is from Mexico, including the fine ladies in the back with the hot plate).

It really is remarkable how much better it tastes to me. It also triggers memories, unlike the corn syrup cack.
posted by Busithoth at 8:44 AM on March 19, 2006


It's interesting that Coke wants it both ways -- they take immense pride in their iconic glass bottle design and use it constantly in their branding, but they won't sell it that way because they prefer plastic bottles that end up in landfills, publicly funded money-losing recycling programs, or just lying beside the road.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:46 AM on March 19, 2006


It really is remarkable how much better it tastes to me. It also triggers memories, unlike the corn syrup cack.

Busithoth, you do realize the Mexican Coke is the same Coke that everyone else sells, right? Only the bottle is different. It's still "corn syrup cack". I admit I prefer the glass to plastic as well (and I imagine it does taste a bit different as I can't really tell and haven't done a test), but the Kosher Coke and the Mexican Coke are different recipes.
posted by dobbs at 8:55 AM on March 19, 2006


On one hand I like people are showing the corp. that don't want what they are supposed to want, but I feel sad that most of these bottles will not make it back to mexico to be refilled. My family used to buy coke in 8-packs of 16 oz. bottles, and return the whole 8-pack of empties at the same supermarket. People can argue about the efficiency of recycling, but the savings from reusing are much more obvious.
posted by 445supermag at 8:56 AM on March 19, 2006


Because of a bizarre local law that outlaws plastic bottles and canned pop we get to have coke in the old-fashioned bottles, and everyone hates it. People come back to the island with trunks full of cases of canned pop like it was some sort of contraband.

I've had Mexican Coke when I was in California and it tasted pretty similar to Canadian Coke, American Coke tastes terrible.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:57 AM on March 19, 2006


Dobbs, the "mexican coke" distributed by the corp might be the same, but the bootleg stuff (according to the article) uses sugar cane sugar.
posted by 445supermag at 8:58 AM on March 19, 2006


Dobbs, can you cite the source of your information that mexican coke uses uses corn syrup?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:06 AM on March 19, 2006


The bottles of Coke in the Mexican section of my local grocery store (Milwaukee) contain corn syrup. I've ordered coke from an online store that was made with cane sugar. It was from Holland.

The cane sugar version doesn't have the same mouthfeel as the corn syrup version. I've always hated that film of crap that domestic Coke leaves in my mouth.
posted by sharksandwich at 9:12 AM on March 19, 2006


Dobbs, can you cite the source of your information that mexican coke uses uses corn syrup?

Admittedly, I am not Dobbs, but here in TX, I can walk into any Mexican market or taqueria and purchace a "Mexican Coke."

They used to use cane sugar. About... um... 2? 3? years ago, however, we started noticing the use of HFCS. The bottles are still the same, though.
posted by kaseijin at 9:14 AM on March 19, 2006


*purchase

spell check is my amigo.
posted by kaseijin at 9:15 AM on March 19, 2006


See also Dublin Dr. Pepper, also supposedly better than the regular product because of its cane-sugar basis. I had a few bottles last time I was in Texas, and it was damn tasty, but then again it was pretty hot and I was extremely thirsty most of the time.
posted by rkent at 9:17 AM on March 19, 2006


When I briefly lived in Mexico, they'd let you walk away with the bottles, but only with a (relatively hefty) deposit. I've never seen the plastic bag and straw thing. But this was almost two decades ago. And we were gringos.

Anyway, screw Coke. What I want is a pineapple, strawberry, grapefruit or hibiscus Jarritos and a pineapple tamale. And some tacos!

/me eyeballs the pescadero joint across the street.
posted by loquacious at 9:19 AM on March 19, 2006


Dublin Dr. Pepper is sublime. You can even tour the old bottling facility in Dublin...with your free bottle in hand to help you enjoy the experience.
posted by kaseijin at 9:22 AM on March 19, 2006


"They're trespassing on the territory rights of many U.S. bottlers," said Coke spokesman Martin. "Bringing it into the country is not illegal. But what it does do from the Coca-Cola standpoint is it violates contractual rights that we have with our bottlers. And it has potential trademark right infringements as well."

That whole NAFTA thing - it's supposed to be a 2 way thing right? Is it like in the EU, where products are allowed to move freely amongst member states?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:23 AM on March 19, 2006


Dobbs, if they've changed in the last few years, then I'll be sorely disappointed. It has been a few years since I had a coke from them (that's guinness calories you're talking about!).

But the difference then was quite real.
I've had CSC in glass since then, and it's different.
posted by Busithoth at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2006


Because of a bizarre local law that outlaws plastic bottles and canned pop we get to have coke in the old-fashioned bottles, and everyone hates it. People come back to the island with trunks full of cases of canned pop like it was some sort of contraband.


People want/like what they can't have.
posted by scheptech at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2006


My apologies. I thought I read the entire article, which says it's "the same exact product... bought from our factory in the USA... jus in a glass bottle", but then later on the article contradicts itself and says it's not corn syrup--the first instance is a quote from a Coke rep, the second is the reporter.
posted by dobbs at 9:37 AM on March 19, 2006


I believe that the flavor syrup is distributed separately from the sweetener, which make the spokesman's statement technically true but evasive of the main point.

Corn subsidies are a strictly American thing, and there may be little incentive or desire to use corn syrup in other countries. Back when I actually drank soda -- which is really revolting stuff, giving it up was like giving up filing your teeth wit a rasp; no sacrifice at all -- I've had Coke from Spain and Germany which tasted much crisper and sharper, less cloying.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:43 AM on March 19, 2006


This is nothng new. Here in my town, it's been possible to get Mexican Coke from just about any Mission District taqueria for years.
posted by ed at 9:44 AM on March 19, 2006


Why not just buy RC cola Dosn't that just use sucrose as a swetener?

I mean, if the demand is really so high, I'm sure someone has figured it out and sells 'real' cola.
posted by delmoi at 10:07 AM on March 19, 2006


*sips Pepsi in shame*
posted by kryptondog at 10:21 AM on March 19, 2006


Yeah, as many other people have pointed out, it's not just kosher or mexican coke that uses real sugar, basically every place I've been to in Europe uses the real stuff in their coke.

Also, I kinda hate it when coke freaks buy up all the passover coke. Some of us are actually trying to avoid corn syrup for religious reasons during that time, not just recapturing lost youth.
posted by piratebowling at 10:24 AM on March 19, 2006


But taking a brand name like Coca-Cola and undercutting the American-made Coca-Cola distributors on their own turf hasn't gone over well with the largest soft drink supplier in the world, according to Martin.

Puh-leeze - it's not like McDonald's is suddenly importing all their Coke from Mexico.
posted by O9scar at 10:27 AM on March 19, 2006


Also, I kinda hate it when coke freaks buy up all the passover coke. Some of us are actually trying to avoid corn syrup for religious reasons during that time, not just recapturing lost youth.

Oh come on, the more us goyim snap up, the more they'll make. G-d bless supply and demand!
posted by rkent at 10:31 AM on March 19, 2006


Unrelated, but interesting story from November about Coca-Cola in Mexico:

MEXICO CITY – Mexico has imposed its biggest anti-monopoly fines ever, totaling about US$68 million (euro58 million,) against Coca Cola and dozens of its distributors and bottlers, a battle won by one woman who got tired of being told what to sell at her one-room store in an impoverished Mexico City neighborhood.
posted by donpedro at 10:48 AM on March 19, 2006


Here in the UK I seem to get cola from all over Europe in the corner stores. It always tastes a bit different for each bottling location but still closer to Canadian coke than the stuff I would get in the States. Funny how that works.
posted by srboisvert at 11:01 AM on March 19, 2006


So, can anybody say for sure what we're getting in Canada? I had assumed it was the same stuff as in the U.S. The ingredients list "sugar/glucose-fructose", which I figured was a catch-all that included HFCS. However, the cans also have a "kosher" mark on them.
posted by evilcolonel at 11:03 AM on March 19, 2006


Killer Coke? Left vs Right.
posted by lalochezia at 11:09 AM on March 19, 2006


Dunno, evilcolonel, but my friends regularly import Canadian coke for its sugar content. Maybe it depends on which Canadian bottler (canner?) you end up getting the stuff from.

I've heard this Mexican Coke story in several places lately. Does anyone know why it's suddenly getting so much play?
posted by hattifattener at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2006


I mean, if the demand is really so high, I'm sure someone has figured it out and sells 'real' cola.

Thomas Kemper used to sell a honey-sweetened draft cola that was...beyond words in its deliciousness. Of course they discontinued it some years back...at which point I think I gave up drinking colas entirely. I'd be much more pissed at the company if I didn't love their black cherry and grape sodas so very much. (The grape soda, especially, causes me to flash back to a youth spent drinking scary purple-flavored Cragmont.)
posted by Vervain at 11:32 AM on March 19, 2006


George_Spiggott,
I believe that the flavor syrup is distributed separately from the sweetener

Second that here. At least that's how it worked 15+ years ago when I worked for a soda company (not Coke but a small but well-known U.S. national brand.) Given the economics of the business I'd be surprised if things have changed.

Our affiliated bottlers added carbonated water to flavor and sweetener to make the beverage. The unsweetened flavor (a.k.a. "concentrate" -- they made a big deal out of the fact that "syrup" is concentrate plus sweetener) is surprisingly, well, concentrated and therefore pretty economical to ship from a central manufacturing facility to each bottler. We had one factory supplying concentrate to the U.S. (sold in the quaint unit of "pails.")

There's a LOT of sweetener in soda and it's heavy, so the bottlers supplied their own (subject to our quality tests.) Same with the water. Maybe large producers like Coke can get some kind of deal for their bottlers as they're responsible for such huge quantities (and could economically hedge to control price risk, too) -- I don't know -- but the sugar/HFCS and concentrate would still be separate buys on the part of the bottler.

The syrup you see hooked up to fountains at McD's/7-11/etc. is mixed by the bottler from concentrate plus their own sweetner. Again, at least that's how it worked back in the dark ages.

dash_slot,
That whole NAFTA thing - it's supposed to be a 2 way thing right? Is it like in the EU, where products are allowed to move freely amongst member states?

Well, it really has more to to with local franchisees effectively losing exclusive rights to their territory (which, no doubt, they pay a good penny for) than any sort of criminal issues. If you read the second link, even Coke admits that the importers aren't doing anything illegal. IANAL, but I don't think NAFTA really deals with those sorts of issues. And Coke is pissed because beverage from extra-territorial sources dilutes each distributor's franchise value, meaning they won't want to pay Coke as much in franchise fees.
posted by Opposite George at 12:06 PM on March 19, 2006


Tamarind Jarritos is really one of the best things on god's green earth.
posted by moonbird at 1:02 PM on March 19, 2006


evilcolonel, it may very well inclue HFCS. koasher is not hte same as "kosher for passover." During passover certian foods are to be avoided, including levening, rice and corn. So, for that short window in the US coke is offered with sugar instead of the corn syrup.
posted by piratebowling at 1:34 PM on March 19, 2006


I need to spellcheck myself a little better in the future. oops.
posted by piratebowling at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2006


I've ordered coke from an online store that was made with cane sugar. It was from Holland. - sharksandwich

Remember what one?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:37 PM on March 19, 2006


We were in our local supermarket here in Maine this morning and the Coke guy happened to be stocking the shelves. I asked him about the cane sugar coke with the yelllow caps and he didn't appear to know what I was talking about.

The last time I had coke with real sugar was last year in Belize, where they grow the cane. Mmmm, bueno.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:09 PM on March 19, 2006


I asked him about the cane sugar coke with the yelllow caps and he didn't appear to know what I was talking about.

Keep an eye out; passover's not for almost 4 weeks yet.
posted by rkent at 2:20 PM on March 19, 2006


There's a little restaurant in Woodburn, OR that used to have glass bottles of Pepsi and Coke from Mexico. They had stickers they just slapped on the side with the ingredients and nutrition information. They stopped selling them about 2 months ago, unfortunately.
posted by Clamwacker at 2:54 PM on March 19, 2006


Yet another continent, but the ubiquitous glass bottle Coke that we drink here in Morocco is definitely not the same recipe as back in the States. Someone once told me it's because they alter the formula based on the preferences of the locals, but who knows. What do you think, Opposite George? Especially since the bottling plant is in Casablanca?

I'm just angry that even though I can get Pepsi, there's no Mountain Dew. My husband told me, "It's too sweet, they wouldn't like it..." this, from a country that dumps 3 huge lumps of sugar in every pot of mint tea? Argh.
posted by Liosliath at 3:09 PM on March 19, 2006


"Remember what one?"

popsoda.com
posted by sharksandwich at 3:21 PM on March 19, 2006


Loks like popsoda.com doesn't sell Coke or Pepsi products due to threats of litigation.

Bummer.
posted by sharksandwich at 3:32 PM on March 19, 2006


*shakes fist impotently at gigantic colored sweet water purveyors*
posted by Smedleyman at 3:56 PM on March 19, 2006


I was in Central America late last year and I can attest to the deliciousness of cane sugar Coke. I know that the difference in flavor has nothing to do with the bottling because they sell it in plastic bottles down there as well.
posted by joedan at 4:03 PM on March 19, 2006


Coke, shmoke, give me my Fresca!

also, Pop vs Soda
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:23 PM on March 19, 2006


we called it "soda pop" in our house.

mexican coke is no longer made with cane sugar? :sad:
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:15 PM on March 19, 2006


Based on what I heard, Mexican Coke is sometimes still made with cane sugar and sometimes made with HFCS. I think it depends on the bottler. The last time I bought a Mexican Coke in Texas it had corn syrup in it.
posted by jefbla at 6:20 PM on March 19, 2006


I just drank one of my (stocked up in Toronto last October) Canadian Cokes tonight...before I'd even spotted this thread! The cane sugar makes it SO much better. Not as disgustingly sweet and mouth-coat-y... it tastes the way I remember Coke *should* taste.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:46 PM on March 19, 2006


I had never realised there was a difference between Canadian and American coke. It just says "Sugar-Glucose/Fructose" on the side of the bottle here. (Well okay, "Sucre-Glucose/Fructose" thank you Trudeau). Is there some indicator on the label that allows you to differentiate between High Fructose Corn Syrup and Cane Sugar?
posted by Grimgrin at 8:38 PM on March 19, 2006


I bought a 1 liter bottle of Coke in Mexico about a week ago - I was in southern Texas visiting family and we hopped over the border for the afternoon.

I've pretty much cut pop out of my diet, but the temptation to actually drink a Coke out of a glass bottle was too much to ignore. Didn't check to see if it was cane or corn, I just drank it.

Anyone else think the Coke with Splenda tastes more like old-school Coke and less like the HFCS "coat my teeth with slime" stuff?
posted by caution live frogs at 9:20 PM on March 19, 2006


I buy two bottles of Coke from Mexico every time I go grocery shopping at my corner HEB here in Austin, Texas, and I have been doing so for years now. It has always, and still does, contain pure cane sugar. I check the label every time before I put them in the basket, because if it suddenly contained corn syrup, I wouldn't drink it anymore. Maybe there are some bottlers in Mexico using corn syrup, but it must not be all of them.

I also go out of my way to get Dublin Dr Pepper, because the real sugar makes all the difference in the world. I can't stand regular plastic bottle American Coke at all, and the Dublin Dr Pepper tastes exactly the way I remember Dr Pepper tasting when I was a kid.

Those of you mentioning the way the HFCS makes your teeth and mouth feel coated are spot on. The sodas with cane sugar just feel and taste fresher, lighter and more refreshing to me.
posted by Orb at 12:33 AM on March 20, 2006


South Africa Coke has cane sugar. A shame I gave up coke long ago.

BlackLeotardFront: Thanks for the pop vs soda link. I'm surprised how wide-spread 'pop' was. I'm from pop country, but changed to soda.
posted by Goofyy at 5:52 AM on March 20, 2006


Strangely, I don't drink full-cal Coke and its kin here in the UK because I think the sugar leaves a slime on the teeth. Maybe it's just a case of degrees? I must admit it's been a long time since I drank HFCS, and my 'slime' is only compared to the Aspartame and acesulfame-k I usually enjoy...
posted by flameproof at 7:13 AM on March 20, 2006


Great. Now the FBI wants to know why I’m googling “mexican coke”
posted by Smedleyman at 9:55 AM on March 20, 2006


I found it a little annoying that the article on Mexican Coke quotes the Coke executive at length with his "same exact product" and "Coke is Coke is Coke" - absolute lies - before mentioning the fact that Mexican Coke contains cane sugar rather than corn syrup.
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:37 AM on March 20, 2006


The CocaCola Classic formula is consistent across all markets. The concentrate is produced in company controlled locations, distributed to bottlers where it is mixed with a locally acquired sweetner into a form called "pre-mix", then finally combined with a controlled amount of specifically filtered carbonated water and dispensed (direct to consumer, or into containers for later consumption).

In the US, HFCS is the primary sweetner. Other countries use whatever is economical that produces a product that meets CocaCola quality standards for flavor. France, for instance, uses a lot of beet sugar.

Mexico can produce a lot of HFCS, but there is a tax applied to the use of any competition to cane sugar. As a result, Coca Cola is working to get the Mexican government to change policy to allow HFCS use (it takes less HFCS than cane syrup because HFCS has a higher 'sweetness' rating, thus reducing the cost of production). So far there is significant resistance to that move.

Alas, HFCS production relies on an enzyme that is a byproduct of the levening process, and thus can be, but often isn't, kosher for passover. To avoid the whole issue a small production run (but bigger each year) of Coca Cola Classic is produced with cane sweetner. It is often recognized, not necessarily by a yellow cap (as that's also used for other things like the current NCAA promotions) but by the Orthodox Union (or similar body) mark followed by Pesach, P, or simply OU-P. That's what you check for.
posted by dwivian at 1:11 PM on March 20, 2006


India has got "Thums Up" which is owned by Coke, yes I spelled that right. It uses pure cane sugar like Mexican Coke, not bad. There's also a masala cola, which isn't owned by Coke, probably the foulest thing I ever drank, it's supposedly for digestive purpose, so I've heard. India used to ban certain imports instead opting for a homegrown solution, so there's some other clever brands out there. These days you can get everything.
posted by Meaney at 2:20 PM on March 20, 2006


What I don't understand is if Coke can fill shelves with its current 20 varieties (diet, cherry, vanilla, zero, lemon, caffeine free, and various combinations thereof), why doesn't it market some that's explicitly made with cane sugar? There's obviously a market.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:41 PM on March 20, 2006


It would be unlikely to bring in new customers and just cannibalize sales from the cheaper to produce HFCS coke.
posted by dustsquid at 8:20 AM on March 21, 2006


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