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I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be seeing stevia in Coke 16 years ago. That’s when I discovered the weird bitter sweetness of stevia. Aspartame… it was bad, made rats get sick. Acesulfame Potassium… also strange. Like eating lead paint. Sucralose… it killed your gut bacteria, even if it tasted better. Don’t get me started on saccharin. But stevia, well, it played to my nature cognitive bias. It was a leaf, used for hundreds of years in the Amazon by hunters (or something along those lines).

At the time of my obsession with stevia, I was experimenting with food and extremes. What if I took megadoses of vitamin C (I had bought for under a dollar Linus Pauling’s books)? What interesting sports drink could I make? Would I become invincible? Better focused?

As I prepared to leave for my summer job, I’d fill a gallon jug with lemons and then powdered vitamin C I bought from Bulk Barn… and then I’d drop in liquid stevia. It tasted tolerable and I’d consume the beverage throughout the day. Over time, I’d experiment with new recipes. Eventually, I wanted to conquer my love of Coke… or diet coke, rather.

I did a lot of research on what makes cola flavour and eventually landed on four main areas:

  • Citrus
  • Cinnamon
  • Sweet
  • Vanilla

Of course, I missed out on other subtle flavours like nutmeg, caffeine, phosphoric acid, lavender, and others (like orange, lemon, and lime flavourings). However, I ended up with something cola-like and it was stevia sweetened. I didn’t add the colouring, which took away from the effect. It was like Crystal Pepsi in some way and just as odd.

Stevia sweetened cola has been around for awhile. Zevia has had one for awhile. But no cola is Coke. Just drinking from a Coke bottle makes one taste Coke. Another cognitive bias, I’m sure.

However, Stevia Coke brings me back to the nostalgia of me running these experiments, hoping I could reproduce the taste of Coke without artificial sweeteners. I’m a bit in disbelief.

That said, it’s been 10 years since I had any cola. This is definitely tempting.

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