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A Different Kind of Alternate Cap: The Story Behind Yellow-Capped Coke

If you live in an area with a substantial Jewish population, you may have noticed that bottles of Coca-Cola in your local supermarket have had yellow caps lately, instead of the usual red. What’s up with that?

The answer is that the annual Jewish holiday of Passover begins at sundown tomorrow, so for the next week observant Jews will restrict their dietary intake to items that are kosher for Passover. Coke is normally kosher, but kosher for Passover is a more exacting standard and requires a separate certification from a rabbinical authority.

That comes into play because regular Coke is made with high-fructose corn syrup. Corn-based products are kosher for most of the year but, in some Jewish communities, are not kosher for Passover. So every year around this time, Coke produces a run of product made with cane sugar. (Several other mass-market sweetened products do the same thing.) These are the bottles with the yellow caps, which are stamped with a Hebrew certification:

Even if you’re not Jewish, serious soda pop geeks insist that the cane sugar Coke tastes better, although I’ve never really been able to taste the difference myself. It’s a good opportunity for a blind taste test!

Anyway, we spend a lot of time at Uni Watch talking about alternate caps, which always gives me a chuckle when I see the yellow Coke caps around this time of year. Happy Passover!

Comments (30)

    Coke with real sugar does taste better. If you are somewhere that has the Mexican Coke in glass bottles, it is the best way to drink Coca-Cola out there.

    That’s part of the taste test uncertainty issue: is the different taste because one’s in plastic/cans and one’s in glass, or is it because of the sugar?

    I’m one of those who strongly believe a Coke in a glass bottle tastes 100X better than plastic. Stays carbonated longer too!

    Agreed that the glass bottled Coke tastes better, both the Mexican variety and the smaller glass bottles made with HFCS.

    I have to travel to Mexico for work about every three months. I always make sure I have some pesos to buy a Coke out of the machines at the facility. They are, in my mind, much better. Same goes for when people from Mexico visit our facility in the States. They say they can tell a difference in ours vs theirs.

    I also laugh about the fact that Diet Coke is not “Diet” in Mexico. It’s “Coke Light”.

    Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup also does a special batch. Not aware of any other product! Why is this product different from all others? Chag Pesach!

    Dublin Dr. Pepper (Dublin, TX) made with cane sugar tastes a little better than the regular Dr. Pepper.

    Dublin Dr Pepper doesn’t really exist anymore, though. The Dublin bottlers lost a lawsuit with Dr Pepper and haven’t produced Dr Pepper in a decade. Dr Pepper still makes non-HFCS for the Texas market that, and occasionally sells it nationally as a limited time offer. I’ve got a couple bottles left over from a birthday present still. The Dublin bottling plant went independent and makes their own self-branded line of drinks now, most of which are pretty good, but not as good as Dublin Dr Pepper was.

    One of the benefits of living near Waco is the availability of real sugar Dr. Pepper year yound.

    During this time of year in pandemic 2020, YouTube Journalist dug into pieces of Mexican Coke & U.S. Coke history and chemistry research:

    Last year, visiting my Jewish aunt in the US, she was very excited for me and my girlfriend to try Mexican Coke. It was a bit of a let down for her when I explained that cane sugar Coke is the norm in Europe. Incidentally, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you if I can taste a difference between cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup coke on the basis that I never drink Coke when I’m in the US. I love root beer, which you basically can’t get with any sort of regularity here, so that’s essentially all I drink when I visit.

    It was a bit of a let down for her when I explained that cane sugar Coke is the norm in Europe.

    Really? I thought *beet* sugar was the norm in Europe.

    I can’t speak for the rest of Europe, but British Coke is made with beet sugar (the former sugar factory in my home town was one of the predominant suppliers). Having tried UK Coke, US Coke and Coke made with cane sugar, I can’t tell a difference in taste. I do find that the sugar-based Coke tends to leave my teeth feeling unpleasantly sticky.

    I much prefer Diet Coke, and I have noticed a marked difference in taste between the US/UK Diet Coke and European Coke Light – the former has a crisper taste with a little hint of citrus, whereas the latter is closer to the taste of regular Coke.

    I’m not a Coke guy, but I think I can taste a difference between cane sugar and fructose in Dr. Pepper and Pepsi. But there’s always the chance it could be psychological. Perhaps a blind taste test is in order!

    Incidentally, if anyone’s interested, one of the things I highlight in my freshman biology courses is that “high fructose corn syrup” drinks are sweetened with fructose extracted from corn and “cane sugar” drinks are sweetened with sucrose extracted from sugarcane. In both cases, a specific chemical (the fructose/sucrose molecule) is isolated from a crop plant. But because of the terminology used (the more chemistry-sounding “high fructose corn syrup” vs. the more natural-sounding “cane sugar”), a lot of people are misled to believe that the process of sweetening drinks with “cane sugar” is somehow more “natural” and thus potentially more nutritious. On top of that, the first thing your body does with sucrose is break it down into – you guessed it – fructose. So there really is no nutritional difference in how the two types of drinks affect your body.

    Anyway, just thought somebody might find that a worthwhile tangential read.

    That is interesting. “Cane sugar” makes you imagine there’s this stick of sugar you scrape and white crystals of sugar come off, but it isn’t like that at all. That said, wouldn’t there be a significant taste difference between fructose and sucrose (even if they end up the same after being digested)?

    Uni Watch: Come for the aesthetic in athletics, stay for the really interesting science lessons.

    That was good to know.

    very cool article, I have never seen these Coke’s but I will keep my eye open now.

    Soda and juice were on the top of the list of things I let go when I got serious about losing weight but I always loved the yellow-cap “real” Coke when it was available for Passover. In a perfect world, we would eliminate high-fructose corn syrup and this would be less exceptional.

    I used to work in a (read: *the*) Jewish museum in Atlanta. The rabbi that originally certified Coca-Cola as Kosher (in general, not for Passover) was an extremely prominent rabbi in Atlanta, and we had his papers in our archives, including correspondence re: that decision. Whenever I see those yellow caps, I think of him, even though he didn’t actually have anything to do with them! By the way, his name is Tobias Geffen, if you want to look him up.

    I’m going to taste-test the bottled “Mexican” Coke vs. the yellow-capped Kosher Coke. Should be the same sweetness, yes?

    Mexicoke > kosher Coke. The kosher version used to taste like the classic, but last time I tried it, it tasted like the stuff sweetened with corn syrup. Maybe there’s more of a difference between the two than just the sweetener. The last time Coca-Cola informed the public they were changing the formula of its flagship product, it didn’t work out well, so they’ll not make that mistake again.

    I get strong Acuna Jr vibes from the yellow cap: both the Braves and Coca Cola are from Atlanta.

    Speaking of this. Anyone know what’s up with the Diamondbacks’ middle infielders (Marte and Perdomo) wearing yellow gear like Acuña? Yellow is not a D’backs color (unless you count their piss-yellow City Connects). I doesn’t look bad with the Sedona red (I think yellow is underused in MLB in general), but it’s not part of the palette.

    As for Kosher Coke, I love the stuff, and I can tell the difference. To me it’s obvious (but then I rarely let a day go by without at least one glass of regular Coke). When I can find the stuff (I’m in a heavily Jewish area of NJ, but the local grocery stores don’t all carry the yellow caps) I horde it. Along those same lines, when I went to Italy, I had no idea about the cane sugar in the Coke, but I instantly noticed the difference, and it was like a special perk on the trip.

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