Although intended for consumption in Mexico, Mexican Coca-Cola has become popular in the United States because of a flavor that Coca-Cola fans call more "natural tasting". While many believe the primary difference in flavor between Mexican Coca-Cola and the American Coca-Cola formula is that Mexican Coke is sweetened using cane sugar (which was standard for American Coca-Cola until the early 1980s) as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup, a scientific analysis of Mexican Coke found no sucrose (standard sugar), but instead found fructose and glucose levels similar to other soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Most of the Mexican Coke exported to the United States is made with cane sugar, while some Mexican bottlers may use high-fructose corn syrup for drinks intended for sale in Mexico. Therefore, while most of the Coca-Cola labeled "Mexican" in the United States is made with cane sugar, this is not true of all Coca-Cola sold in Mexico.
Coca-Cola opened its first bottling franchise in Mexico around 1921 with Grupo Tampico, and then Grupo ARMA. Monterrey-based FEMSA is currently the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Mexico, along with most of Latin America.
The Coca-Cola Company originally imported the Mexican-produced version into the U.S. primarily to sell it to Mexican immigrants who grew up with that formula. Mexican Coke was first sold at grocers who served Latino clientele, but as its popularity grew among non-Latinos, larger chains like Costco and Kroger began to stock it. It is now readily available at most grocery stores throughout the United States.
In 2013, a Mexican Coca-Cola bottler announced it would stop using cane sugar in favor of glucose-fructose syrup. It later clarified this change would not affect those bottles specifically exported to the United States as "Coca-Cola Nostalgia" products.
Results from taste tests have been mixed. In a taste test conducted by a local Westchester, New York magazine, tasters noted that the Mexican Coke had "a more complex flavor with an ineffable spicy and herbal note", and that it contained something "that darkly hinted at root beer or old-fashioned sarsaparilla candies".
However, participants in a different double-blind taste test overwhelmingly preferred American Coca-Cola. Participants in taste tests conducted by Coca-Cola and others reported no perceptible differences in flavor between American Coke and the Mexican formulation.
Mexican Coca-Cola is sold in a thick 355 ml (12.0 US fl oz) or 500 ml (17 US fl oz) glass bottle, which some have described in contrast to the more common plastic American Coca-Cola bottles as being "more elegant, with a pleasingly nostalgic shape". Formerly, Coca-Cola was widely available in refundable and non-refundable glass bottles of various sizes in the U.S., but nearly all bottlers began phasing them out and replacing most glass bottles with plastic, during the late 1980s. Most exporters of Mexican Coke affix a paper sticker on each bottle containing the nutrition facts label, ingredients, and bottler and/or exporter's contact information, to meet US food labeling requirements.
Adding to the nostalgia factor, the Mexican Coca-Cola glass bottle does not have a twist-off cap (for plastic bottles) or a pull-tab (for cans). A bottle opener is required to drink the bottle's contents.
- Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar, a line of Pepsi products flavored with cane sugar
- Phillips, Matt; Ferdman, Roberto A. (November 4, 2013). "A New Tax Might Cost Mexicoke Its Signature Sugar". The Atlantic.
- Walker, Rob (2009-10-11). "Cult Classic". New York Times.
- Ventura, Emily E.; Davis, Jaimie N.; Goran, Michael I. (April 2011). "Sugar Content of Popular Sweetened Beverages Based on Objective Laboratory Analysis: Focus on Fructose Content". Obesity. 19 (4): 868–874. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.255. PMID 20948525.
- Choi, Candice (2013-11-06). "Mexican Coke in US will still use cane sugar". yahoo.com.
- Davis, James R.; Davis, Adelaide B. (1998). Effective training strategies. p. 312.
The first Coca-Cola bottling company in Mexico, Grupo Tampico, with eighty-three years of history, operates a series of gas stations, computer stores, automotive retailers, hotels, and radio stations, and they still distribute Coca-Cola
- de Bell, Leendert Andrew (2005). Globalization, regional development and local response. p. 68.
Starting out in the 1920s as a small factory for ice cream and soft drinks, the company acquired one of Mexico's first franchises to bottle soft drinks under license of the Coca-Cola Company in the 1930s. In the following decades, operations...
- "FEMSA • ANNUAL REPORT 2017". FEMSA.com.
- Baral, Susmita (2013-11-04). "Mexican Coke Switching To Corn Syrup From Cane Sugar; 4 Reasons Why This Shift Is Terrible". Latin Times.
- Sexton, Jule (2010-02-22). "Mexican Coke Hits the County: A Blind Taste Test". Westchester Magazine. Today Media, Inc.
- López-Alt, J. Kenji. "The Food Lab, Drinks Edition: Is Mexican Coke Better?". Seriouseats.com.
- Wong, Vanessa (11 November 2013). "The Mexican Coca-Cola Myth: It's Almost American". bloomberg.com.
- Fisher, Jon (17 October 2012). "Does real sugar make Mexican Coke taste better?". sciencejon.blogspot.com.
- Steward, Ian (June 26, 2011). "American Coke fails Kiwi tastebud test". Stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media.
- Melnick, Meredith (2010-10-28). Study: Hey, Hipsters, Mexican Coke Might Be a Myth". Time Magazine.