I know it's bad for me, but I have never drank or smoked, so I feel like I needed to have at least one vice.
My vice is diet soda. Over the years, which diet soda has changed. I remember drinking my sister's Tab soda as a young teen. Diet Coke is always a staple.
In my years in Kansas, I fell in love with a Kroger Grocery Store brand soda that was Diet Cherry Cola. It was better than the name brands and saved me a lot of money each week. I know I drink way too much when changing to a store brand can save "a lot" of money, but trust me, it isn't hyperbole.
Currently, my choice is Coke Zero - or now Coke Zero Sugar after they realized I liked it and decided to change the recipe.
What is with Coca-Cola and tinkering with recipes?
You would think that my value as a customer would allow me some input. After all, I have had their diet products in nine different countries. When my wife was pregnant with our older son, we had a trip to Cozumel, Mexico planned. She didn't want to be pregnant in Mexico - something about maternity bathing suits and morning sickness didn't sound like a great vacation to her.
Instead of Cozumel, we headed to Atlanta. No, it isn't the same thing. But we are both Braves fans and the timing was such that we were able to see them play twice. It was in the press box during a tour of Turner Field that she first felt Blake kick.
It was also this trip when I visited my Mecca - the World of Coca-Cola. It is an interesting place. The best part was getting to try recipes of different sodas bottled in other countries. That trip made me believe that African countries had a lot of weird fruit-based sodas like mango cola and others. When I spent 20 days in Ethiopia during our adoption of Dawit, I was able to find a few places that sold cold soda. Electricity isn't a constant even in Addis Ababa. Ice isn't something you just expect in a restaurant and, unless you like slightly cooler than room temperature beverages, you are probably better off ordering bottled water.
But the Coca Light in Ethiopia was almost as good as the recipe in Mexico, Belize and Honduras that I loved on a cruise. I also had a version of Diet Coke in Jamaica and Grand Cayman when I took another family vacation on a cruise. They were good, too.
But this week I had a chance to taste a recipe I had never imagined. A good friend got to go on a business trip to Japan. He has seen me drink Coke Zero during every waking hour so he knew that would be the perfect gift for me.
The bottle was clearly Coke Zero but the only other English word on the wrapper was "plus."
"Plus what?" seemed like an obvious question.
None of us could tell from any context clues on the bottle so I had to look it up. In Japan, they actually have a set of Food of Specified Health Use (FOSHU) drinks. Coke Zero Plus is the first soda to make the list.
That's right, my vice is suddenly sounding pretty healthy.
The company said in a press release in 2017, "Drinking one Coca-Cola Plus per day with food will help suppress fat absorption and help moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood after eating."
"How?" you ask.
It contains five grams of nondigestible dextrin, a source of dietary fiber. That is almost as much fiber as you get in a serving of shredded wheat cereal.
This bottle was a combination of Metamucil and Coke Zero.
That makes sense because Japan has a large aging population so this drink might be a "two birds with one stone" solution for many Japanese people.
I'm no spring chicken myself, so I drank it.
It tasted good. I'm not sure about the immediate health effects but it didn't kill me so that's a pretty decent endorsement.
Even nondigestible fiber won't really make soda a health food but I guess it's a step in the right direction. I'm not sure yet how to get it delivered to me in a cost-effective way, but it would be nice to at least have the placebo effect of thinking I was drinking Coke Zero for my health and not as a vice for a change.