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Dec 19, 2000 08:43 AM

cane sugar v. corn syrup in sodas

  • m

OK I'm a HUGE Dr. Pepper fan. I'd love to try some made the old fashioned way (coke too) with cane not corn syrup. a) does the label indicate corn syrup or cane sugar and if so b) what would it say, since it's probably the chem. name for one or the other and I'll no doubt have to slog through loads of chemical names anyway.

Is there such a drink as Dr. Pepper made in Lat AM & available in a NY bodega too? Ordering from Dublin TX is not an option for me.

And if it really tastes so good and people are obviously fans of cane, why do they change the formulas to incorporate corn syrup - cheaper? longer shelf life?

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  1. And another thing...
    Why does the Coke in the small glass bottles taste better than all the other forms of Coke? It's the exact same formula, and comparison tests done OUTSIDE of the container show there's no difference. Yet, there's no mistaking the superiority of the small glass bottle Coke.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bilmo

      Are you sure that they are the same? I only like the coke in the glass bottles I will not drink regular coke it is too bubbly and tastes too sweet and sticky to me. Especially 2 liter coke is the worst.

      1. re: MM

        Only sure to the extent that the subject pops up now and then in the media, and each time, either Coke claims they're identical, or someone claims to do a taste test poured out of the container, or some such thing. And the bottom line is that there's no difference. And yet, I know that drunk from the small glass bottle, it just tastes way better. There may be some element of taste operating here that is just not understood yet (there's probably lots).

    2. I used to have a little knowledge of this, which may be outdated, but here goes:

      First, there is a distinction between beet sugar and cane sugar (from sugar cane). Most of sugar used in the US is from beet sources. Don't know if the type of sugar makes a difference in soda (I doubt it does).

      Corn syrup is labeled as such on the ingredient line, sometimes as high fructose corn syrup. I think some soda may use a mix of corn syrup and sugar.

      Corn syrup is/was considerably cheaper than sugar for manufacturers, which is the primary reason manufacturers switched over. There might have been stability or processing benefits too, but I don't know. One reason corn syrup was so much cheaper was that US sugar producers (the farmers) received the benefit of government price supports which kept the domestic price of sugar significantly higher than the world price (like double the price at times).

      I might be wrong, but I would doubt that a major manufacturer like Dr. Pepper would produce different varieties by sweetener type in the US. They would run all their plants the same way since its cheaper and the average consumer wouldn't care about the difference. Sugar based Dr. Pepper might be made somewhere outside the US though.

      13 Replies
      1. re: rjka

        I think the same might go for Coke. I remember having a Coke (in the small bottle) in Greece and thinking it tasted better than its US counterpart. A Greek friend confirmed that sugar was in the ingredient list as sweetener-but whether it was cane sugar or beet sugar I have no idea. Don't know if I'm making sense by saying this, but to me soda sweetened with sugar, while it tastes sweeter than the corn syrup-sweetened version, is somehow less cloying.

        1. re: Martha Gehan

          In Los Angeles, many of the better Eastside taco stands do indeed offer bottles of Mexican Coke at a substantial premium--the more discerning East L.A. locals would no more drink Coke sweetened with corn syrup than they would eat tortas served on Wonder Bread.

          I tend to come back from a day in Tijuana with a case of the true grail: sugar-sweetened Coke in the original heavy, freshness-protecting 5.5-ounce glass bottles.

          1. re: Pepper

            One of the highlights of a trip to the Carribean was the discovery of Coke made with sugar -- of course it's cheaper for them since they grow sugar cane. I have no idea if some of the island sodas are available in Florida, but they sure don't make it to San Francisco.

            1. re: Anne Emry

              On my last trip to Canada, I noticed that they still had "sugar" coke -- this may be an option for Hounds that live closer to the northern border than to Tijuana....

              1. re: Elaine

                Boy, am i confused! I don't know whether to pack my bags for Atlanta, Tijuana, Canada, or the Caribbean! When old Coke was replaced with Coke Classic, i, your typical red-blooded, Coke-addicted maniac, decided that CC was fit for neither man nor beast. I gave it up cold turkey and made the switch to Pepsi. Eventually, i read an article in "Time" that mentioned an old Coke/ CC lab analysis and the conclusion was that there was indeed a difference and that Coke would taste different depending upon what type of sweetener was used (cane sugar, corn syrup, etc.). I have occasionally dared to try fountain Coke, which is sometimes acceptably close to old Coke. But what i'm really looking forward to is my next trip up North, so that i can once again savour the ambrosial Coke of yesteryear!

          2. re: Martha Gehan

            It is also possible that Coke adjusts the formula slightly for local tastes, at least in regard to sweetness levels.

            1. re: rjka

              Coca Cola does adjust their formula to suit local tastes, both within North America and in foreign countries. I have never been, but know that there is a tasting room at the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta where one can sample various Coke formulass from all around the world, and also sample local products made by the company in different countries (and not available here).

          3. re: rjka

            No, in the case of Dr Pepper this is incorrect. The Dublin TX Dr Pepper plant has a special dispensation by the Dr Pepper company to produce the beverage with the original formulation and cane sugar because it has historic significance to the company -- the drink was invented not far from the plant in Waco.

            From the Dr Pepper FAQ:

            11. What's the difference between Dr Pepper made with Imperial Cane Sugar, and Dr Pepper made with high fructose corn syrup?

            In the opinion of everyone who's tried it and commented on it here on and to me in person, the cane sugar version tastes better. It's also the sweetener which was originally used to make Dr
            Pepper in the first place. Personally, I think the taste of the cane sugar product is more well-rounded and less fizzy than the one with high fructose corn syrup.

            12. How can I get some cane sugar Dr Pepper?
            You can either:

            a) Visit the plant in Dublin, Texas--the oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in the world and the only plant in the U.S. which is allowed by the Dr Pepper corporation to still manufacture the soda with cane
            sugar. The Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company is located at 221 South Patrick, Dublin, Texas 76446, one block south of the intersection of US377/67 and TX6. The plant is open Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm;
            Saturday, 10am-5pm; and Sunday, 1-5pm. You can also call them at 1-254-445-3466 for tour information, etc.

            b) Visit most stores within a 50 mile radius of the plant--which is the territory covered by it.

            c) Call up Old Doc's Soda Shop at 1-888-398-10-2-4, or 1-254-445-3939 and they can tell you how much it costs to have "The Real Thing" shipped to you.
            Be forewarned that no matter how you buy it from Dublin, there is a 25 case limit. Any more than that sold to a single person could violate franchise agreements (because you could be "dealing" if you have more than 25 cases in your possession and transport them into another franchise's territory).

            1. re: Jason Perlow

              You are correct. I didn't see your post further down the page. Still, this seems like an unusual gesture by Dr. Pepper and not part of the standard operating procedure, which is what I based my resposne on.

              1. re: Jason Perlow

                Well, I ordered 3 cases of Dr Pepper in cans from Dublin TX last week.

                They came today when Rachel was out that the new house we are looking to buy with the inspector.

                When she came back, I guess 6 hours after it was delivered, they had frozen solid and an entire six pack had exploded.


                The good news is only half the shipment came is more is coming tomorrow. But I am overcome with sadness.

                On a positive note, my Don Alfonso Extra Vigin Olive Oil from Jim Dixon came today too, and it was unharmed. I guess Olive Oil doesnt freeze.

                1. re: Jason Perlow

                  I got an email from Dublin Dr Pepper this morning -- apparently, you can buy the sugar cane Dr Pepper from them, as well as other cane sugar soft drinks in syrup form, which is obviously a -lot- more economical to ship (a gallon of syrup makes like 200 12oz portions of soda). Just add carbonated water (seltzer)


                  Dear Jason,

                  I apologize for the frozen and ruptured cans. I have had many customers this season with the same problem. You would think UPS could get it right
                  eventually. I will credit you once I have recieved the paperwork.

                  In answer to your "P.S." we can sell you 1 gallon jugs of the Dr Pepper syrup. As well as the other pure cane sugar products that we bottle. They are NuGrape, Frostie Root Beer, Big Red and Suncrest Orange. If you
                  have any further questions please contact here at the shop at 1-888-398-1024.

                  Again, I am sorry about the damaged cans.

                  Andy Anglin

                  1. re: Jason Perlow


                    1. re: MR.TURNER

                      there is a 1-888 phone number in that message you are replying to. The message is a couple of years old and thus things may have changed, but you can call. And if that number doesn't work if you go back a few messages there is the name/address of the bottler in Dublin Tx.


            2. Cane sugar is a hell of a lot more expensive to use in large quantities than corn syrup. That is basically the bottom line.

              Corn syrup is sometimes labelled as corn syrup but it can also be just labelled as sugar, since it is -- there are few ways to manufacture sugar, cane and sugar beets and corn being the main types -- but since these are organic compounds and sugars are complex things they do taste different. As to whether or not there is some acid test for determinining whether or not it contains cane sugar it depends on where it comes from. Cane Sugar is usually labelled as cane sugar here in the US but not always, especially if it comes from abroad. In spanish sugar is "Azucar" and this is usually meant to be cane sugar.

              1. Check out and do a search on cane sugar... A lot of the products they sell have it.

                Remember Moxie? They got it, and its still made the same way.

                One of the brands I really like from Mexico is "Jarritos" which has fruit flavored stuff...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jason Perlow

                  Jarritos is okay, but the killer Mexican sodas are almost all under the Pinafiel brand. Wonderful grapefruit and a sangria flavor real-tasting enough to bother AA friends. You can find them at most decent Mexican delis, including several (whose names I am blanking on) in New York.

                2. Many years ago I did office temping at Pepsi Cola's R&D lab in Valhalla NY. They had a complete bottling plant just for testing. On slows days the guys would mix up a batch of sucrose Pepsi and give us all a case un-labelled bottles to take home.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Val G

                    Suppose that was meant to speed things up a little? :-)