How does ‘pixel-flavored’ Coke taste? Well, we drank it
In case you missed it, Coca-Cola has a new limited-edition beverage that was “born in the metaverse” and apparently is “pixel-flavored.” Called Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, the drink originally premiered in Fortnite (sure!) and is available through the official Coca-Cola Creations website till it sells out. (It costs about $15 for a two-pack, by the way, so it is still available.)
What does “pixel flavor” taste like, though? Well, the Coca-Cola folks describe it as “an innovative taste inspired by the playfulness of pixels, rooted in the experiences that gaming makes possible.” That is an ambitious way to describe a drink, and we couldn’t help but want to put it to the test.
Photo: Petrana Radulovic/Polygon
On a cloudy afternoon, five Polygon staffers gathered around a can of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, eager to sample this strange and new beverage. The can itself was aesthetically pleasing, a pale purple accented with turquoise and fuchsia “pixels.” We gathered some cups — and some crushed ice, for those of us with more refined palettes — and poured out some fresh Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte.
After a few sips, it was clear that is not your average Coke Zero. There are certainly the undertones of a typical Coca-Cola beverage, but before I can even process that, I am hit with a tsunami of artificial fruitiness that I cannot quite make sense of. Is it citrus? Is it berry? Does it have notes of mint? In the end, I boil it down to “tutti-frutti,” which is both specific and incredibly vague. As it turns out, my colleagues have similar sentiments:
It has the usual Coke problem of not tasting like much of anything after the first sip. It smells a little spicy and a little floral, and for a second at the beginning, you get the impression of something very sweet and fruity, like a maraschino cherry. After that it just tastes like acid and sugar.
It tasted of confusion, but in a pleasant way. I absolutely would not drink an entire can.
It’s overpoweringly sweet, but the mysterious combination of unidentifiable artificial-fruit flavors that come through after that first blast of sugar is somewhat pleasant. That being said, I still wouldn’t want more than a few sips of it, and I’m not entirely convinced that it’s actually what pixels taste like.
What is this fruit? Can someone please tell me? I do like the Coke Zero levels of sweetness, but it was impossible to discern what kind of fruit Coke thinks a pixel is made of. I’d maybe drink more, though.
Photo: Petrana Radulovic/Polygon
But in the end, one does not drink for the taste, but for the experience. One drinks Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte to enter the metaverse and embrace the raw essence of gaming. One drinks Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte to unlock one’s true gamer potential. So, did the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte inspire us as gamers?
“Absolutely,” says Austen. “I will not elaborate further.”
“It allowed me enter the Metaverse and up-level my Gamertude,” says Chelsea.
“Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte has distilled a fruit-themed match three puzzle/microtransaction game down to a taste sensation,” says Susana. “Also, no.”
“It’s absolutely inspired me to go back to my usual gamer fuel of choice, bottled Diet Dr. Pepper,” says Tasha.
As for myself, well, let’s just say I’m still processing just what Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte tastes like, but I did finally win a game in Nintendo Switch Sports. True gamer status, activated.
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