Review: Diet Coke with Lemon

Before there was Coke with Lime, there was Diet Coke with Lemon… which of course, was a direct response to Pepsi Twist. While Pepsi Twist was launched regionally in 1999/2000, Diet Coke with Lemon didn’t show up until the summer of 2001.

Diet Coke with Lemon - 20 oz. Bottle

20 oz. bottle

Oddly enough, Coke only added lemon to their Diet Coke franchise, not to the flagship product. Maybe the lemon flavor went better with the Diet Coke formulation, which uses the same recipe found in the failed New Coke formula rather than the “classic” Coca-Cola taste.

Diet Coke with Lemon - 2 Liter Bottle

2 liter bottle

When it first came out, almost a year after Pepsi Twist, it was critically ridiculed even more than Pepsi’s product for tasting like furniture polish (which I really don’t get, as I’ve never tried to squirt Pledge down my throat… did someone actually try this?). As Coke was testing the formula for Coke/Diet Coke with Lime, they discovered that taste testers had a positive response to the light, natural citrus flavor found in that new drink.

Diet Coke with Lemon - Old Logo Design

Old Logo Design

Diet Coke with Lemon - New Logo Design

New Logo Design

Thus, Coke decided to reformulate Diet Coke with Lemon with a new lighter taste when compared to the original version. They decided to also redesign the packaging to, as they put it, “harmonize with Diet Coke with Lime.”

Now, it should be noted that I don’t drink diet pop at all. My last experience was with Diet Sprite Zero simply for marketing purposes. So it’s for you, dear readers of, that I drink Diet Coke with Lemon. And…

…it tastes like crap.

Diet Coke with Lemon - Yellow Banding

Note the yellow banding, similar to Lime’s planned green banding

Granted, that’s not really fair of me, but c’mon, it’s not only diet but also has a bad lemon taste. It’s like you get killed on all aspects of the drinking (though I think I would still drink Diet Coke with Lemon over 7-Up Plus).

Also, I wonder how long Coke plans on keeping Diet Coke with Lemon on the market. It’s almost impossible to find here in Chicago these days… I had to go to a bunch of different stores just to find it. Chances are, you’ll have better luck tracking it down in 2 liter format vs. a 20 oz. bottle. My gut is that even with the reformulation, this product is on its way out.

Can the market support both a diet lemon and diet lime beverage from the same company? As Coke will soon learn, nope.