Does the world really need another soft drink?
And a carbonated dairy drink with 7 teaspoons worth of sugar at that?
The Coca Cola Company seems to think YES, and is rolling out vio – “the world’s first vibrancy drink” – initially in New York City for a trial run. The marketing copy includes “ultra hip” one liners such as It kinda tastes like a birthday party for a polar bear…It kinda tastes like a first kiss…
The products boast natural cane sugar, no artificial flavors, calcium, and antioxidant vitamin C.
We have sacrificed ourselves for you dear readers, and took a bottle for a test drive. Here is what we discovered…
What you need to know:
The drinks are encased in tin cans, shaped a bit like glass bottles. They come in 4 flavors – Tropical Colada, Citrus Burst, Peach Mango, and Very Berry.
We tried the Peach Mango flavor, 2 delicious fruits of which the drink has none. To vio’s credit, just below “Peach Mango” on the label, it says “flavored with other natural flavors” (albeit in a hard to read font.)
The flavor was actually quite nice, and so was the mouth feel, not too fizzy, very lightly carbonated.
Here is the ingredient list – Sparkling Water, Cane Sugar, Skim Milk, Cream, Less than 2% of each: Calcium Lactate and Calcium Citrate and Calcium Phosphate (Calcium Sources), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Natural Flavors, Lactic Acid, Pectin, Beta Carotene (For Color).
Cane sugar – just plain old sugar that comes from sugar cane (other sources could be beets, but there is no nutritional difference).
Calcium Lactate (E327) – baking powder. A white crystalline salt made by the action of lactic acid on calcium carbonate.
Calcium Citrate (E333) – a preservative or flavoring. About 20% is calcium. Sometimes used in calcium supplements.
Calcium Phosphate (E341) – a raising agent. Also used in calcium supplements.
Lactic acid – a milk acid found in sour milk products. In most commercial uses it is derived not from milk but rather from bacteria that ferments non dairy foodstuff such as potatoes and molasses. It is found in foods as a pH-adjusting ingredient and/or as an antioxidant.
Pectin (E440) - derived from apples and other fruits. Found in and between a plant’s cell walls and used to regulate water flow in and out of cells. In food, used as a gelling agent, thickening agent and stabilizer.
Beta Carotene – a red orange pigment found in fruit and vegetables, for example carrots. It’s a precursor to vitamin A. In this product it is used solely to provide the peach mango flavor.
The nutrition panel informs us that a bottle contains one serving, and is 8 fluid ounces. It has 120 calories, 104 of which are from the sugar! The product carries an insignificant amount of fat, sodium and proteins. And despite the fortification with 3 sources of calcium and vitamin C, both just rate at a measly 15% of the required daily intake. By comparison, a cup of skim milk has 30% of your daily calcium requirement, and a medium sized orange has 75%-100% of the daily vitamin C requirement depending on how fresh it is.
We’ve said it before and we’ll keep repeating it. Soft drinks do not have a nutritional right to exist. If companies want to sell us sugar water as a treat, then call it that. But dressing Vio up as a healthy beverage by boasting vitamins and minerals is beyond rude, it’s outright deception.
Hopefully New Yorkers will come to their senses and euthanize the nascent Vio, thus saving the world from another superfluous grocery item.
What to do at the supermarket:
If you fancy a peach and mango flavored drink, here’s a quick and easy recipe – peel and dice one ripe mango; dice one ripe peach; add one cup of fat free unflavored yogurt, and one spoon of sugar. Pulse in a blender until smooth. Heaven.
If you’re still thirsty, drink tap water, and save your family of four $150 a year to buy real mangos and peaches.
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