A few weeks ago, I got ane-mail from Jason (he of Off the Broiler and eGullet), alerting me to the fact that Passover Coke was currently available. I was told to keep my eyes open.
So I kept my eyes open and found…nothing. Which kinda bummed me out, as I’ve always wondered if there is a taste difference between a Coke made with High Fructose Corn Syrup and one made with sucrose in its place.
As you can see by the photograph to the right,someone was able to tip me off that Passover Coke as able to be found at the QFC in University Village here in Seattle. I scooted on over there in my Mini Cooper and procured said beverage.
How did Coke get into the Passover business? It’s the result of a Rabbi by the name of Tobias Geffen who was the dean of Southern Jewish Orthodoxy. With that position, he was often asked which foods were kosher and which were not. One of these foods was Coca-Cola.
He approached the folks at Coke, and asked them for a list of inredients. In a very unorthodox moment,the folks at Coke relented (which runs contrary to their business practice – many people who work for Coke, don’t even know what goes into the drink).
Rabbi Geffen found that one of the ingredients – glycerin – was made from beef tallow. This made the drink unkosher.
A second problem existed as well…Coca Cola contains trace amounts of alcohol derived from the grain products used to sweeten the beverage, in this case, Corn. Since anything derived from grains is not allowable, this too made Coke unkosher.
Coca-Cola executives decided to produce a Coke that was Kosher for the Jewish community. The glycerin is made from vegetable products and the sweetner comes from Sugar beets and Sugar Cane. In today’s formula, all of the impurities that typically come with the beets and cane have been removed, and the ingredient added is simply sucrose.
Of course one person’s impurities is another person’s flavoring. While a drink made from cane sugar is easily distinguished from one made from HFCS, a drink made with sucrose is a little more difficult.
In my case, I was able to tell the difference, due less to the taste itself, as to how the beverage felt in my mouth. For me, the Kosher coke held the tongue a little longer and a little more succinctly. It also made felt a little “rougher” upon my teeth, I know that sounds peculiar, but I know of no other way to explain it.
Is there a taste difference? Some people swear there is, but in my opinion, the taste difference is so slight that you have to be looking for it in order to notice it. To those who go through life not caring about the taste of Coke, the difference is almost unoticable.
Kosher Coke production has ended for this year, but you may still be able to find some in Major Metropolitan areas. Look for the 2 liter bottles with the yellow caps. I have been unable to determine in they make Kosher Coke in cans.
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