26 April 2008

Drink Zero

Here at the Palace, we rejoice in the wondrous variety of products that centuries of innovation and development have bestowed upon us. We drool over exquisite design and salivate at perfectly realised creations. To quote Morgan Freeman - in character - "Allah loves wonderous variety". And who are we to argue with Allah? Or Morgan Freeman for that matter, a man who was been God more than once.

We are also fans of minimalism; specifically, a crafted, thoughtful, designed minimalism, not I've-got-no-money-or-things accidental minimalism.

I am recently of the opinion that mixing the two is not necessarily a winner. Sure, we have iPods, but for every iPod, we have a Coke Zero.

Now, I have no problem with Coke Zero as a product. What I am struggling with is the point of it. For many years, those not wishing to rot their teeth out at quite such a ferocious rate have had the rather wonderful Diet Coke with which to slake their thirst.

Going by their current ad campaings, Diet Coke is aimed at professional women who, despite their pleas to be taken seriously, are not beyond acts of sabotage in their attempts to ogle some chiseled adonis who, while perfectly acceptable to look at, wields only the requisite IQ required to clean windows, abseil down lift shafts, or drink Diet Coke topless without falling over.

Coke Zero, on the other hand, appears aimed at Noughties metrosexual twenty-something males for whom life hasn't quite gone to plan, and who thinks that a drink based around unknown vegetable extracts will enable him to turn the the world into a Carlsberg-run, bloke-centered nirvana.

Given these two quite separate, specific demographics and mission statements, one would be forgiven for assuming that the ingredients would differ. No sugar, some spice for the ladies. Snails and tails for the fellas. But no. Both beverages appear chemically identical.

They both make use of Caramel E150d, Phosphoric Acid (H3PO4), Aspartame (C14H18N2O5) and Acesulfame K (C4H4KNO4S), Acidity Regulator E331 (in case the Phosphoric Acid goes on one of it's legendary benders?) and a source of Phenylalanine (C9H11NO2).

And so to the nutritional information. How much Protein? Zero? Correct. Carbohydrate? Zero again. How much of that sugars, do you think? Hah, trick maths question there. Zero again. And so with Fat, Of Which Saturates and Fibre. The boffins at the Coca Cola Company have managed to take half an hour out of their no doubt hectic Californian porn-based lives to throw a trace of Sodium in there, along with some Energy.

I have given the low-fat Cokes a little lambastation here, but they at least retain their Caffeine content which, for me, is all that gives these beverages a purpose. I don't drink hot drinks, so a can of something fizzy can be the only way to wake me up, short of slapping my old chap in a vat of liquid something-that-should-be-a-gas.

There are beverages out there that dispense even with the caffeine, the last vestige of pointfulness in the whole product.

There must be some people out in the world who have decided that all they want from a beverage is that it be liquid. In which case, I would suggest a wonderful product that falls from the sky and upon whose simple structure you rely for a large proportion of your own structure.

Evidently, the Coca Cola Company are concerned that the world no longer wants to drink two cans a day each and are slowly introducing products that become closer and closer to The Perfect Drink. So we can expect Coke Still (or Coke Flat), Coke Clear (which I think we've already had), Coke Tasteless, Coke Neutral before the give up and release Coke H2O.

My point? Come on, if you're reading this then you know better than to expect a conclusion.