Japan has a history of introducing new hybrid products. This is, after all, the country that decided panties belonged in vending machines. And the latest might be an equally acquired taste: Coca-Cola just released Coke Plus, a "healthy" version of the soda that contains fiber.
Ah, fiber — the pause that refreshes your digestive tract.
In a February press release, the company said the new zero-calorie drink would contain five grams of "indigestible dextrin," a source of dietary fiber, per bottle. "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," reads the release. "'Coca-Cola Plus is a sugar-free and calorie-free beverage … so we hope people will drink it with meals,' said Dr. David Machiels, product development director."
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It also noted the drink would be pitched to those 40 and older. Prune juice, Coke's coming for you, maybe.
Coca-Cola may find itself with a marketing challenge greater than chokers for men. The company has not revealed whether the new "healthy" formulation will address some of the ways in which diet soda has been found to be extremely bad for you: Soda's caramel coloring has been linked to cancer; its phosphoric acid has been shown to degrade bones and tooth enamel; and a new study even links diet beverages to dementia and stroke. Plus, far from "suppressing fat absorption," researchers have found that artificial sweeteners may actually contribute to weight gain by making the body crave sugar.
Coca-Cola actually introduced a primordial version of Coke Plus worldwide, including in the U.S., in 2007. Diet Coke Plus was touted as containing vitamins B3, B12 and C and the minerals zinc and magnesium. The Food & Drug Administration was not having it; the agency sent the Coca-Cola company a warning letter stating that the beverage didn't contain the amount of nutrients the agency required, and it considered fortifying snack foods with nutrients to be inappropriate besides. Sick burn, guys. That version fizzled away in 2011.