#PDReview – Battle of the Diet Cokes

Proper drink run #PDROver the last two years, I’ve become a total Coke junkie. I could lay blame on many different factors, but I recognize that I was hooked when I moved to Atlanta. I worked for a university that received a significant amount of funding from the Coca-Cola company, which allowed the vending machines on campus to be subsidized. When you’re thirsty, it’s hard to say no to a $.75 20oz bottle of Coke! And thus my almost-daily habit began.

Although my tastebuds have changed to prefer Coke Zero, Diet Coke is much more readily accessible. And from much trial and error, I have found that not all Diet Coke is created equal. The sweetness, bitterness, and level of carbonation can vary drastically, depending on whether it’s from a can, bottle, or from a fountain.

A #PDR is a Proper Drink Run. Whenever you check in for a refreshing beverage,add the #PDR hashtag. The type of drink can be anything from soda to juice to milk to beer, according to the official @properdrinkrun Twitter page:

@ProperDrinkRun Wherever you drink Out 'N About & need something to quench your thirst? Whether Soda, Coffee, Tea, Juice, Beer, White Russian, etc. # your Proper Drink Run #PDR, whatchya drinkin? http://foursquare.com/user/properdrinkrun

I was asked by the mighty @paco_belle, keeper of the #PDR empire, to do today’s #PDReview. Even though @ThomAllen‘s review last week was for Diet Coke, I decided to go in a different direction. I decided to determine which fountain in the Salt Lake area provides the best tasting Diet Coke. I got fountain drinks from the following locations:

McDonalds – 7200 S and I-15 – 32oz for $1.08
Holiday Oil – 7200 S and 700 W – 32oz for $.86
Maverick – 7800 S and 700 W – 52oz refill for $1.38
Sonic – 12300 S and 300 E – 44oz for $1.50 (with Sonic VIP sticker)

diet coke reviews

Battle of the Diet Cokes

I also purchased a 20oz bottle of Diet Coke to use at the control for the taste test. Although there are Coca-Cola bottling plants all over the world, the bottled product tends to have a consistent taste. In comparison to the bottled Diet Coke, here are my findings:

McDonald’s – The most similar to the bottle. Sweet, well carbonated but did not sting my throat. Just a hint of bitterness.

Holiday Oil – The most bitter of the group. Hardly sweet at all. Very carbonated but tasted watered down.

Maverick – Kinda flat. Darkest color. Average bitterness. More expensive refill price than Holiday.

Sonic – Sweetest of the fountain drinks. Slightly carbonated. Not bitter at all. Best ice.

nicole bullock drinking diet cokeOut of the group, it was a toss-up between Sonic and McDonalds, which are the two places I typically grab a #PDR. I have the Sonic VIP sticker which gives you any drink, any day, at any time for $1.39 + tax. Because I like to have vanilla syrup in my Coke, I’ll choose Sonic over McDonalds if they’re right next to each other (like they are in Ft. Union and in Draper). And if you go to Sonic during Happy Hour (between 2pm-4pm), you can get all your drinks for half price.

But the tiebreaker for me is “leftover appeal.” I usually grab a big drink and sip it for several hours. After 3 hours, the McDonald’s Diet Coke tasted much better than the others. It actually tasted a little sweeter without the ice. So for today’s #PDReview, the winner is McDonald’s. Or as I like to call it, my “McDiet.”

What is your #PDR drink of choice?

  • diet coke for sure. i don’t like the food at mcdonalds but do think they have the best fountain diet coke so if i just needed a drink on a road trip i’d pop thru the drive thru there.

  • Nicely done! Great review…you should be proud. Drinking a Diet Coke right now! 🙂

  • KatePease

    This is hilarious! I totally know what you mean as far as which location has it better. I live in holladay and there is a market near my house called “the store”. They are the BEST! They have the carbonation to syrup ratio down to a science! Plus, they have pebble ice, and provide lemons and limes. Pretty much they are the BEST and refills are only 71 cents!

  • Anonymous

    Every day of the week between 2-4 p.m. is drink happy hour at Sonic. I’ve never paid more than a buck for a fountain drink there.

  • Anonymous

    True…it will be a buck during happy hour. But otherwise, a Route 44 Diet Coke will run you $2 + tax. The VIP sticker is $10, and will give you the discount sticker and a $10 Sonic Card. Win-win to me!

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, but it seems the only time I ever get to Sonic is during their happy hour drink time. Late lunches, you know.

  • How do you become a sonic VIP?

  • Oh man, I DO love McD’s Diet Coke – especially for $1!

  • Diet Dr. Pepper

  • Brilliant culture chick, I am impressed with your knowledge of all things that you shove down your gob.

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