Coca-Cola Mexicana

It all started in 1985 when — in an effort to save money — Coca-Cola stopped using real cane sugar and reformulated the iconic drink to be made with high-fructose corn syrup. The U.S. government subsidizes corn growers so much (some $40 billion since the mid 90s) that HFCS is cheaper than sugar, and when you are producing on the scale that Coke is material costs are crucial to the bottom line. What does this have to do with Mexican Coke you ask? Well, the bottlers south of the border never made the switch to HFCS, so people (like myself) feel that Mexican Coke has a better taste than American Coke. I think the Coca-Cola made with real sugar is less sweet tasting and has a smoother finish than HFCS Coke and thus is superior. There is also some Coors beer action going on (ever see Smokey & the Bandit? They’re thirsty in Atlanta and there’s beer in Texarkana) because Mexican Coke is harder to get.


The best part of the Coca-Cola HFCS vs. sugar cane debate is that the bottler in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio (located in Bedford Heights) refused to make the switch to corn syrup and still uses real sugar. Nice! So if you live in Cuyahoga County, check those labels for the presence of “sucrose” and you are golden. Coke does switch their formula to real sugar once a year (look for the yellow cap) for the Jewish holiday of Passover (observant Jews can’t eat corn, which includes the dreaded HFCS during that time). It is also interesting to point out that the original (and oldest) Dr. Pepper bottler in Dublin, Texas (near Fort Worth) still uses real sugar in their formulation. Pepsi also has a card to play in all of this “real sugar” madness with the recent release of Pepsi Natual. I haven’t had a chance to test it out (I’m a Coca-Cola man), but like where they are going. The company also recently came out with (or is coming out with) “throwback” versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew. I would think that Mountain Dew tastes better with HFCS, not that I have had any in the last 20 years.

How do you get your hands on some of this tasty Mexican Coke? If you live in New York there are a few options. Bodegas in places like Sunset Park, Washington Heights, etc. often stock Mexican Coca-Cola as well as other versions of Coke from South American countries. The beverage store New-Beer on the Lower East Side will occasionally sell the real-deal sugar cane Coke. If you live in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California Costco sells Mexican Coke by the case. I have my friend Kate from Texas bring me four bottles at a time. Hope she doesn’t read this and see that I could get my Coke on the LES. Wait, that doesn’t sound right.

Mexican Coke with real sugar. The sticker is required to meet U.S. content / label requirements

Comments on “Coca-Cola Mexicana

    Chris Reinhardon August 13, 2009 @ 12:55 PM:

    If you’re not partial to Coke or Pepsi, the other option is Pepsi Throwback which also is made with real sugar, and should be more available in regular grocery stores and gas stations and whatnot. I think it comes out in December.

    Michael Williamson August 13, 2009 @ 12:56 PM:


    Did you just look at the pictures?


    Michael Hazleon August 13, 2009 @ 1:06 PM:

    From an article by Daniel Engber, last April, 28th:

    “These same marketing campaigns pander to the widespread and unproven belief that high-fructose corn syrup has an unpleasant flavor. (“Science aside, there’s no question that sugar just plain tastes better,” says one prominent food blog.) The vice president of marketing for Snapple announced that the company’s decision to change sweeteners “comes down to delivering great taste”; according to the editor of, an industry publication, cane sugar has a “much different, cleaner taste. … You don’t have that syrupy coat in your mouth after you drink it.” This sentiment accounts for the yearly excitement over the sugar-sweetened, kosher Coke and Pepsi that turn up at the supermarket during Passover; HFCS-free Mexican Coke generates similar enthusiasm for its supposedly better taste.

    “Some flavor experts are skeptical, though. They point out that the formulation of high-fructose corn syrup was precisely calibrated to mimic the taste of sucrose before it was subbed into soft drinks in the early 1980s. (Coca-Cola spokesmen have been particularly adamant that there is no perceivable taste difference between the two.) Scientists have tried to evaluate the relative flavors of pure sugars: A 1996 study, for example, found that fructose, glucose, and sucrose were indistinguishable as long as doses were matched for sweetness intensity. Other research suggests that the taste of fructose has a quicker onset while the taste of glucose builds slowly and tends to linger. But no readily available studies have compared the flavor profiles of sucrose and HFCS.”

    The complete article is here:

    Matton August 13, 2009 @ 1:07 PM:

    I drink the Mexcian Coke all the time…Pepsi = pisswater.

    Memoon August 13, 2009 @ 1:21 PM:

    With family in Mexico and being a former Texan, I have much love for the Mexican coke and the Dublin Dr. Pepper. Apart from the taste, the glass bottle is just nicer to drink out of.

    Thanks for posting where to find it in NYC. I tried to locate Mexican coke recently to make some Kalimotxo but wasn’t able to find it in any of the bodegas/grocery stores in Chelsea or the W Village.

    Memphis88on August 13, 2009 @ 1:21 PM:

    I hate Coke and Pepsi, but the grocery store right by my house carries Mexican Coke in their Mexican food section. I might give it a try sometime.

    michaelon August 13, 2009 @ 1:24 PM:

    i think we get mexican-styled coke in the UK as well. taste much better than american coke.

    Chris Gerberon August 13, 2009 @ 1:29 PM:

    Pepsi Throwback is out now, its just super hard to find. But Mexican Coke, and Dublin Dr. Pepper is where its at. You can buy Dublin Dr. Pepper off their website, (And if you live in South/Central Texas, I know Central Market sells it)

    Pat Son August 13, 2009 @ 1:30 PM:

    great article but i have to say my favorite part was the Smokey and the Bandit reference. Truly a great way to work it in.

    Brookson August 13, 2009 @ 1:38 PM:

    mexican coke isn’t hard to find, at all. go to and order away.

    i’ve used it in several cocktails for different gigs…it makes a killer cuba libre.

    Russell Sproutson August 13, 2009 @ 1:38 PM:

    I thought this was where the REAL men hung out?

    Throw me a can of Jolt™, then we’ll talk turkey.


    Michael Williamson August 13, 2009 @ 1:45 PM:

    Jolt™!! STFU! Hilarious.

    samanthalynnon August 13, 2009 @ 1:56 PM:

    found this in carroll gardens this week:

    “natural” sprite.

    Coryon August 13, 2009 @ 1:56 PM:

    You can get Mexican Coke at Neighburrito on Rivington between Essex and Norfolk.

    Matton August 13, 2009 @ 1:57 PM:

    I think Jolt fueled the teenage hardcore punk scene in Detroit back in the 1980’s!

    Fritzon August 13, 2009 @ 2:01 PM:

    Coca-Cola is still made with sugar in Argentina(as of last summer) as well and tastes far superior.

    Andyon August 13, 2009 @ 2:13 PM:

    Read the labels. A lot of hecho en Mexico Coca-Cola is making the HFCSwitch.

    Eric Marthon August 13, 2009 @ 2:13 PM:

    Boylan Bottling Company makes a killer Cane Cola. A nice cinnamon finish. I prefer it over Mexican Coke though here in Virginia it’s a little harder to find. Fantastic pale green bottles, and the words BURGER DELUXE printed above the company’s seal.

    Jones Soda also makes a good cane cola, though their bottles are of course some of the ugliest in history.

    frankon August 13, 2009 @ 2:14 PM:

    The best thing about living in Phoenix is the plenitful nature of coooold Mexican Coke

    DavidHon August 13, 2009 @ 2:14 PM:

    “It all started…”

    As every other documentary makes clear, cost-savings from HFCS also spurred soda companies and fast food joints to offer ever-larger drink portions at marginal price increases. This year, McDonald’s reintroduced its 42-ounce soft drink (for 79 cents). Filson could make a custom bridle leather carrier for that bucket o’ corn juice.

    jackon August 13, 2009 @ 2:32 PM:

    Should also post potential health issues with HFCS as opposed to real sugar.

    I do live in the southwest and we get truckloads of this stuff everywhere. The novelty wears off quickly when it is readily available. In any case, I’ll take a Blue Sky over a coke, mexican or not.

    A Treasury ofon August 13, 2009 @ 2:45 PM:

    Yeah, for those interested in sugar sweetened sodas the Pepsi Throwback umbrella of pops, including Mountain Dew are easy to find in MN. They’re at all our local Target stores as is Pepsi Natural which I wrote up but have yet to try:

    So anyway – try Target.

    samon August 13, 2009 @ 2:45 PM:

    Andy said it. i’m in texas, and i’ve seen mexican coke bottles with the hfcs. i also concur with jack on the Blue Sky sodas.

    wayne pateon August 13, 2009 @ 2:48 PM:

    There was lots of Mexican Coke cups thrown at Landon Donovan while he was taking a corner kick in the second half of their World Cup Qualifying Match against Mexico yesterday at the Azteca Stadium. The Mexican National Team’s un-sportsman like conduct was down right classless. Had to be said.

    jasonon August 13, 2009 @ 2:49 PM:

    dude this blog has gone to hell in a handbasket.

    Paulon August 13, 2009 @ 2:52 PM:

    In Philadelphia Mexican coke is pretty easy to find around the “Italian Market” (I put this in quotes as the italian market is predominantly Mexican & Vietnamese vendors nowadays) in one of the many excellent BYOB burrito joints. You can also find the rare and wonderful grapefuit soda Squirt in glass bottles at these places.
    All manner of Boylan’s sodas are also easily found in and around Philly, but their Cola never did it for me (their Root Beer and Orange Sodas are excellent.)

    Joshon August 13, 2009 @ 3:05 PM:

    I’m in Chicago and we get the sucrose Coke with the yellow caps for Passover. After spending the month of April away from HFCS infused drinks, I cannot go back. I have to search out 7-11s here looking for Mexican Coke. It’s also reduced my consumption greatly and made me appreciate sugar based sodas and returned soft drinks to a treat as opposed to a staple in my diet.

    Rafael Ton August 13, 2009 @ 3:07 PM:

    The taste of anything comes down to the quality of the ingredients. Although Mexican Coke is indeed MUCH better than the USA version, I must vote instead for Italian Coke. Italians are known for their great waters, and add that to their great citrus fruit, pure sugar, etc, and it adds to a great freakin’ Coke.

    DavidHon August 13, 2009 @ 3:07 PM:

    @jason. If I had to give up ACL or NYT, I’d pause and consider.

    ztlon August 13, 2009 @ 3:10 PM:

    In NYC…. you can find at Hill Country BBQ on 26th street, btwn 6th and Broadway. Nothing washes down the awesome bbq they have smoking at HC like a good mexican coke. OK a lone star beer gets the job done too…

    Mitraon August 13, 2009 @ 3:19 PM:

    Mexican Coke with handful of salted peanuts thrown in the bottle.

    Davidon August 13, 2009 @ 3:29 PM:

    I gotta try harder to find Mexican Coke, especially since I live in Southern California.

    Found a bottle of Pepsi Natural at Target. I haven’t been that underwhelmed since Star Wars The Phantom Menace came out ten years ago. Man it tasted bad. Didn’t have a cola taste at all, probably even worse than Pepsi Clear.

    Brianon August 13, 2009 @ 3:51 PM:

    So what is Mexican Diet Coke made with? Saccarin?

    Mikeon August 13, 2009 @ 4:15 PM:

    Whatever they make it with, they call it Coca-Cola Light south of the border.

    james c.on August 13, 2009 @ 7:08 PM:

    I’ve had the opportunity to try a couple of bottles of Coke back in Bolivia, and I really have to say there is a difference. Not as sweet or heavily carbonated. I asked the owner of the shop where he gets it shipped from. He told me “only in South America” because of the high abundance of sugar cane farms in the area.

    lalitoon August 13, 2009 @ 8:42 PM:

    Now i understand, everytime i go to US, coke dosent taste the same i didnt knew all this information.. i live in Coahuila near Texas..
    When i was little grandpas usually liked to squeeze half lemon inside the coke (glass bottle) and it really takes really good, give it a try


    Jedi R.A.on August 13, 2009 @ 8:48 PM:

    America is one of the only countries that still uses HFCS. It has been banned in a lot of countries all over the world. Do a search on the net and you will see. Luckily I live in So Cal and we get the real sugar soda from the local market. Funny I thought I was the only one who cared about this.

    Danon August 13, 2009 @ 8:58 PM:

    Sweetener aside, another upside to Mexicoke is the 12 oz glass bottle. Tell me you don’t feel cool drinking out of that.

    All our soft drinks in Australia are still sweetened with real sugar (not that I drink soft drinks that much), but I still like to grab a few bottles of Mexican Coke whenever I’m in the States just for the coolness factor of the bottle. If you’re gonna drink Coke, you might as well nonchalantly swig it from a glass bottle.

    Zacharyon August 13, 2009 @ 9:22 PM:

    The Mexican Coca-Cola can be found at some service stations and other locations in the general Atlanta area. I know of one just outside of Conyers (where I-20E shrinks back down to 2 lanes) that sells it. I used to stop there often when I would drive between Atlanta and Augusta. Rear Coke tastes better with a Moon Pie.

    Red Rock Cola is an easy to find alternative in Atlanta if can’t track down the Mexican version. I’ll keep my eyes out for the Passover edition. Is that more of a NY thing? I can’t recall ever seeing yellow caps growing up in the South.

    The Sand Seaon August 13, 2009 @ 9:46 PM:

    Man, one nice thing about living in Albuquerque is we have full stocks of Mexican coke, Pepsi, glass bottle Jarritos, Sangria Sidral, and Sindral Mundet.

    Kevinon August 14, 2009 @ 7:04 AM:

    I’ve never been much of a soft drink drinker but my wife has always bought mexican cokes. Like others who have posted, I’m in Austin and you can get both coke and Dublin DP pretty easily. They make a nice cuba libre though with just a splash.

    Don Gusson August 14, 2009 @ 9:53 AM:

    Nice post.

    Thought you might like this.

    Bunnyon August 14, 2009 @ 10:48 AM:

    ice+mexican coke+2shots espresso+twist of lemon rind = genius

    Dannyon August 14, 2009 @ 10:59 AM:

    A lot of mexican delis in brooklyn and the LES sell the mexican coke. If they sell jaritos there is a good chance of sippin’ on some sugar cane coke……

    Hunteron August 14, 2009 @ 12:01 PM:

    Just be sure to check the nutritional label when buying a bottle of Coke that looks like the ones pictured above. I bought a Coke that looked just like these the other day from a good Mexican joint on Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint, and was disappointed to find out that it was actually sweetened with HFCS—I thought that all the bottles that looked like this were sugarcane-sweetened, but I was wrong. And as a side note, you can really tell the difference in taste, in my opinion. Also, the fantastic new-ish restaurant Cochon in New Orleans (“Cajun-style Southern cooking,” highly recommended by both myself and Esquire magazine) has the little bottles of sugarcane-sweetened Dr. Pepper.

    peteron August 14, 2009 @ 2:25 PM:

    Mexican coke is a little misleading here, I’m pretty sure most countries other than the US still produce with sugar…definitely all the coke I’ve had in Europe as well as NZ/Australia. I disagree with the coke spokesmen, there is a perceivable taste and sugar is better!

    davidHon August 14, 2009 @ 3:03 PM:

    This is great news Michael. I just happen to be in California (San Marcos, San Diego area), and I also happen to have a Costco card (though it really belongs to my mom). Time for some Carne Asada Fries and Sugar Cane Coke. Oh baby!

    skon August 14, 2009 @ 6:30 PM:

    Those “It’s just corn” commercials made me cringe every time. I like that Mexican farmers like to stick true to their maize and actually make it edible unlike the genetically modified crap that they make in the States to process or feed to cows!

    AFocusedImaginationon August 15, 2009 @ 3:39 AM:

    Nice to see a quote with Texarkana in it. Proud to say that’s where I was born and raised.

    Abbieon August 15, 2009 @ 10:56 AM:

    Since this blog has such an informed readership, may I ask, on the topic of softdrinks, does anyone have knowledge of a drink called Rioco? I used to buy it in cans quite a number of years ago and found it to be a refreshing summer drink. I believe it was produced somewhere in Latin America, but I have not seen it for a long time.

    Jeremy Ryan Carron August 15, 2009 @ 11:19 AM:

    Oddly enough you can get Mexican Coke in most grocery stores and at CostCo in Minneapolis, MN as well. One of the many benefits of the influx of Mexican-Americans into the city over the last decade. Another being awesome Taquerias.

    Scooteron August 15, 2009 @ 2:13 PM:

    And now I know why there are single cokes being sold in the mexican section of the international aisle in my local Krogers!
    I’m also a coke person, my parents were Pepsi people, but my grandma was a coke person and that always made it special to go there when a kid so we could have coke. It was just nectar to me and I still drink way too much. My GF is a health nut and wants me to cut back. I wonder if I drank cane coke if my belly….oh, never mind.

    CK Dexter Havenon August 15, 2009 @ 8:26 PM:

    There is a difference. I had been noticing how much more i liked the Coke in Brazil when i’m there, but never really ‘investigated’ the formulations. Then, later, in Costa Rica and Mexico – the same thing. Now, whenever i come back to the US, i’m disappointed. It’s mental for Coke to claim there’s no perceivable taste difference.

    Funny thing, that the change occurred in 86. Of course, looking back in hindsight, i can’t pinpoint it, but there was a time when i recall feeling that something was ‘off.’ I attributed to changes in ME! Tastes change over time, right? Wasn’t this also about the time when they had that abominable NEW COKE travesty? They brought back Classic Coke but changed from sugar, and we were all just so grateful that the ‘new old’ Coke was better than the New Coke…. Jeez.

    I tried Pepsi Throwback a couple of months ago, when i had to make a trip to Atlanta. Couldn’t find the stuff in New York City – imagine that. Anyway, i didn’t really think it was remarkable. But, perhaps that’s just because i’m not a Pepsi man. I really did appreciate Pepsi’s efforts to release that product, until i found out it was a limited time and limited AREA thing. Not available in NYC. A Pepsi rep advised me to go to New Jersey to get some. Seriously. New Jersey. Okay, sure. Why don’t we just forget the whole thing.

    Veronikaon August 16, 2009 @ 4:28 AM:

    Mmmm jolt.

    nickon August 16, 2009 @ 4:07 PM:

    HFCS is horrible for the body, far worse then sugar. So not only does real sugar taste better its a little better then HFCS but then again I’m not saying sugar is healthy or anything! Google HFCS health problems if you haven’t, you’ll see it is worse then sugar.

    coreyon August 16, 2009 @ 5:07 PM:

    I had one the other day but the printed sticker said made with “sugar cane OR high fructose corn syrop”

    i think its changing down there

    Jayon August 16, 2009 @ 6:55 PM:

    I’ll concur with the poster above that Boylan’s Cola is superior to anything else

    Leeon August 17, 2009 @ 4:34 PM:

    All this rage over Mexican Coke……I am nearly 100% positive that Canadian Coke is made with real sugar too. I know it tastes better than the American stuff. Therefore, if you’re in New York or any of the other border states, come across and get some sugared coke. Nothing beats it!!

    billon August 17, 2009 @ 6:56 PM:

    love this stuff they serve it in La Superior williamsburg with the best mexican “street food”


    charleson August 19, 2009 @ 3:53 AM:

    Some if not all of the Costcos in Utah sell Mexican Coke.

    Harloon August 20, 2009 @ 12:41 PM:

    Costco’s in the Twin Cities can also fulfill my MexiCoke fix..

    I too am as much into it for the bottle as the taste. It irks me to no end that every Coke commercial features jolly folks drinking from 16oz glass bottles. It’s the only example I can think of where virtually every ad for a product features a version of the product you cannot buy in the area it’s being advertised in.

    Mikeon August 26, 2009 @ 11:57 AM:

    This is great. I love the taste of mexican coca-cola. So where can you get it in NYC I wonder?

    chadskion October 2, 2009 @ 9:12 PM:

    to whoever mentioned coca-cola light… outside of the US, Diet Coke is generally referred to as Coca-Cola light.. but there are a bunch of different regional variations. the coca-cola light i’ve had in europe was far worse tasting than regular diet coke from the US.

    B.on October 10, 2009 @ 2:33 AM:

    My boyfriend and I have been drinking bottled Mexican Coke all the time recently. It’s so much better! It tastes like Coke Icees. But I didn’t realize it’s so hard to find. They sell it at the Shoprite in Millville, NJ. And bottled Mexican Fanta, too! I must say I tried the diet Coke (Lite Coke, is it?) when I was in Mexico and it was nasty. I’d rather be fat.

    George Fultonon November 22, 2009 @ 6:28 PM:

    The Mexican Coca-Cola also has better bottle caps, with the original logo design, whereas the American coke usually has the word ‘Classic’ printed on it, if that matters. If you collect bottle caps it might.

    Lots of Mexican grocers in the Southeastern U.S. sell these Cokes. Not too hard to find.

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