Coke gets its Kosher on!
Ahh, it’s good to be back in the good ole US of A. I’ll regale you with tales from my trip to Paris another time (I’m writing an article about it). Today, however, I wanted to enlighten you about the Jewish holiday of Passover. Actually, I wanted to discuss a curious phenomenon that happens around Passover every year.
As everyone knows, Passover commemorates the Exodus and freedom of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. But Pax, how does this pertain to Coca-Cola? Patience, grasshopper, all will be revealed in due time. During passover, the only grain product that can be owned or eaten is one in which flour and water have not combined for more than 18-22 minutes. Due to this restriction, Jewish people can’t drink the sweetener used in non-diet sodas; High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Coke and other soft drink companies started switching over to this sweetener in the late ’70s/early ’80s as an alternative to beet or cane sugar due to sky rocketing sugar prices. This move still angers many soda enthusiasts as the taste is no longer the same as the drink’s inventors had wanted.
So, during Passover, Coke began to notice the dip in sales during the months around the Jewish holiday. It obviously was a significant enough dip that Coke had to do something about it. In order to hold onto its important Jewish sales during Passover, Coke produces batches of its soda with sucrose (beet sugar and/or cane sugar) much like it did before the big switch to HFCS and the whole manufacturing process is lorded over by a Jewish representive. To soda enthusiasts, this means that Coke, Pepsi and Sprite, during the month of Passover, are available sweetened with pure sugar to those who go looking for it. And it can be a difficult search as the switch is not nationwide and centers mostly on large Jewish communities. This makes the few weeks before and the few weeks after Passover a large, geeky scavenger hunt for soda enthusiasts.
So, how do you find it? Coke Classic, Sprite and Pepsi will have the largest showing. You supposedly can also find some of Dr. Brown’s sodas with cane sugar in them (I’d love to find a Black Cherry). 2 Liters of kosher soda will have yellow caps on them with Hebrew writing and a P stamped on the cap top. Cans, which are much harder to find, will have the Hebrew stamp on the bottom. Big cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco will have lots of it. Smaller towns will be harder to find unless you have a Jewish grocery somewhere near you. Passover this year begins on the morning of April 2 and lasts the whole week.
I’ll be on the lookout for it, will you?
UPDATE: After writing this article I went to the local supermarket and I found Kosher Coke.
Here are the pics:
Notice the bright yellow cap. I don’t think you can see the Passover Hebrew stamp on top, but it’s there. I wasn’t able to find any Pepsi or Sprite, but I’ll try other places. Keep looking, it’s out there.