These truly are hard times to be a cola;  With the size-limit regulation war raging in New York City and the constant barrage of health-related news about calories and sugar content, Coca Cola and Pepsi - the industry leaders of the cola market - are on the search to please everyone.

Both companies are looking for ways to evolve their recipes.  The result they're looking for is a cola that has no calories, includes no artificial sweeteners, and doesn't leave an aftertaste in the mouth of consumers.  The soft drink makers have spent lots of money and have numerous people searching for that perfect, elusive recipe.  But it's not an easy task.

That’s because the ingredient that makes soda taste good is also what packs on the pounds: high-fructose corn syrup. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame that are used in diet drinks don’t have any calories but are seen as processed and fake. Natural sweeteners that come from plants present the most promising alternative, but companies haven’t yet figured out how to mask their metallic aftertaste.

Once a beloved American treat, sodas are now being blamed for the nation’s bulging waistlines — two-thirds of the country’s adults are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That, coupled with the growing variety of flavored waters and sports drinks, has sent per capita soda consumption down 17 percent to about 1.3 cans a day since its peak in 1998, according to data from Beverage Digest, an industry tracker.

Profit and market share (aren't they mutually-exclusive?) demand that the search continues no matter what the cost.

Even though the actual formula might be years or decades off, it should be an interesting process to watch.

 

Soda companies racing for a new sweet spot - Lifestyle - Boston.com.