a close up of a red can
Photograph ©2024 by Brian Cohen.

High Fructose Syrup in Mexican Coca-Cola.

How sweet it is.

People in the United States who enjoy drinking Coca-Cola believe that the soft drink tastes even better when it is manufactured in Mexico because sugar is used as the sweetener; but when I recently drank a can of Coca-Cola from Mexico, I noticed that it did not taste much differently than its brethren in the United States because among its ingredients, high fructose syrup was included in Mexican Coca-Cola.

High Fructose Syrup in Mexican Coca-Cola.

The ingredient in question that is printed on the can is azucar y jarabe de alta fructosa, which translated into English is sugar and high fructose syrup.

a close up of a red can
Photograph ©2024 by Brian Cohen.

I have no idea if that high fructose syrup contains corn — but does that really matter?

a red can of soda
Photograph ©2024 by Brian Cohen.

“High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a fructose-glucose liquid sweetener alternative to sucrose (common table sugar) first introduced to the food and beverage industry in the 1970s”, according to this article written by John S. White for the National Library of Medicine, which is a division of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which itself is a division of the National Institutes of Health of the United States. “It is not meaningfully different in composition or metabolism from other fructose-glucose sweeteners like sucrose, honey, and fruit juice concentrates. HFCS was widely embraced by food formulators, and its use grew between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s, principally as a replacement for sucrose. This was primarily because of its sweetness comparable with that of sucrose, improved stability and functionality, and ease of use. Although HFCS use today is nearly equivalent to sucrose use in the United States, we live in a decidedly sucrose-sweetened world: >90% of the nutritive sweetener used worldwide is sucrose.”

High fructose corn syrup is supposedly no worse than sucrose in terms of health, according to a different article from the aforementioned National Library of Medicine from almost two years ago: “In conclusion, analysis of data from the literature suggests that HFCS consumption was associated with a higher level of CRP compared to sucrose, whilst no significant changes between the two sweeteners were evident in other anthropometric and metabolic parameters.” Rather, too much of both exists in our food supply and in our diets — neither of which is good.

Still, high fructose corn syrup — which was invented in 1957 — tends to taste sweeter than sucrose. “High fructose corn syrup is often used to sweeten foods instead of sugar because it tastes similar but is already in liquid form and doesn’t break down easily during production”, according to this article from the Nebraska Corn Board. “This byproduct of corn is readily available and cheaper than other forms of sugar. By using high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, companies can manufacture and sell products at a lower cost.

Final Boarding Call

I do not drink sodas and soft drinks voluminously. I prefer to have one with dinner and sometimes with lunch — although I will drink water instead of soda during those times as well — but I do prefer soda that contains sugar instead of high fructose syrup for the reason of taste.

If you enjoy drinking Coca-Cola that was manufactured in Mexico, check the label of the bottle or can first to ensure that it does not contain high fructose syrup if you prefer it with sugar.

One of the best ways to enjoy Coca-Cola with sugar is to purchase a bottle with a yellow cap, which is typically available around the Jewish holiday of Passover.

All photographs ©2024 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Glass bottles from Mexico are from cane sugar. You will not see a Mexican can of Coca Cola advertised as made with cane sugar.

    A 10 second Google search will show they’re all Mexican Coca Cola bottles in reviews.

    1. Thank you for the “well-researched article on the topic” that is behind a paywall, Jeffrey Paul.

      Wow. Talk about ignorant…

      1. Brian Cohen does not support paying for news nor content. Brian, you are donating all of your proceeds from this website right? Which 501c does it go to?

        1. I assume you pay for every source of news or content, FR?

          Tell me: how much did you pay to read the content which I post?

  2. You do know how to get around most loading pay walls? As the page loads, hit the X button to the left of the URL while in Chrome. The page will stay viewable. I have no subscription to the San Antonio Express; I simply googled Mexican Corn Sugar Coke. But for our purpose here, I’ll go ahead and copy the article.

    It looks the same. It smells the same. And it very nearly tastes the same. But is it the Real Thing?

    Coca-Cola fanatics may be in for a surprise the next time they order a Mexican Coke in San Antonio.

    The Mexican version of the popular soft drink has earned a legion of nationwide fanatics since its official introduction to the U.S. market in 2005, and it had plenty of fans here in Texas before that thanks to unauthorized dealers, according to a 2014 report by The New York Times. The key difference and source of Mexican Coke’s mystique lies in its sweetener: cane sugar. Mexican Coke’s U.S. counterpart has been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup since the 1980s.

    But at some restaurants and convenience stores in San Antonio, that’s beginning to change. A Coca-Cola product has been spotted here bearing all the trappings of classic Mexican Coke — the curvaceous half-liter glass bottle, the “retornable” and “sabor original” wording, and, of course, the “hecho en México” designation — but a quick glance at the fine print on the nutrition label reveals something unexpected. The sticker on this version of Mexican Coke lists both sugar and high fructose corn syrup as the sweeteners.

    A card-carrying Coca-Cola enthusiast brought this to my attention after she snagged a bottle during a lunch run to the celebrated food trailer Carnitas Don Raúl on Broadway.

    Classic Mexican Coke is sweetened exclusively with cane sugar.
    Classic Mexican Coke is sweetened exclusively with cane sugar.

    Paul Stephen/Staff
    On ExpressNews.com: Coca-Cola scored a hit at HemisFair ‘68 with free soda

    The bottle she bought did have a few obvious tells. For starters, the cap was green, not red. And unlike the classic Mexican Coke, this bottle bore warnings indicating the product contains excessive calories and sugar in compliance with a food labeling law enacted in Mexico in 2020.


    Article continues below this ad

    Now, to be clear, this is not the flagship Coke formula sold domestically in Mexico. That beverage receives part of its flavor from the artificial sweetener sucralose, which many people may know better as the product sold under the brand name Splenda. The substitution of sucralose for part of the sugar cuts that version of Coke’s calorie count by one-third.

    The pure cane sugar Coca-Cola is made in Mexico expressly for export to the United States. The version with high fructose corn syrup has the same calorie count and, as I said, contains markings that indicate it is sold in Mexico, too.

    I recently took part in a taste test of classic cane sugar-sweetened Mexican Coke, the hybrid corn syrup and sugar version found at Don Raúl, the sucralose-spiked variety, and cans of the U.S. high fructose corn syrup formula of Coke.

    A version of Mexican Coca-Cola sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup was easy to spot thanks to its green cap.
    A version of Mexican Coca-Cola sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup was easy to spot thanks to its green cap.

    Paul Stephen/Staff
    The results were a mixed bag with one exception: the domestic Mexican Coca-Cola partially sweetened with sucralose had a distinct taste of artificial sweetener. The U.S. and classic cane sugar-sweetened Mexican Coke were hard to tell apart. What little difference I could detect was a slightly more acidic citrus note in the Mexican variety.

    On ExpressNews.com: 6 modern spins on the classic ice cream float

    As for the Mexican version blended with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, it ranked just a hair above the sucralose-sweetened Coke. It wasn’t quite as off-putting but definitely didn’t have the fizzy swagger of either the U.S. or cane sugar Mexican Cokes.

    Coca-Cola did not respond to an email request for comment about the various Coke products available here. But if you’re concerned about the continued availability of Mexican Coke sweetened exclusively with cane sugar, fear not.

    Julie Bedingfield, a spokeswoman for H-E-B, which regularly stocks the good stuff, said H-E-B’s cane sugar Mexican Coke sources “don’t have any supply issues with that product,” and that customers can ask managers at their regular stores to order more if they have any concerns.

    It doesn’t look like cane sugar-sweetened Mexican Coke is going anywhere any time soon. Just be sure to read the fine print to make sure you’re buying the Real Thing.

    1. I can get around a paywall, Jeffrey Paul

      …but I assume that when someone posts a comment that has potentially interesting information, they will want readers to read it as well as me.

      With that, I appreciate that you posted that information. Thank you…

      …and yes: the glass bottles with sugar from Mexico are definitely better, in my opinion — but some people think that just drinking Coca-Cola from a cold glass bottle is superior than drinking it from a can.

      Would you agree or disagree with that?

  3. It’s always amusing to see the self-proclaimed know-it-alls pile on.

    I live in Texas and I’ve only seen (real) Mexican Coke in bottles. And (cane sugar) Kosher Coke around Passover.

    1. Texas is where I had my first taste of Coca-Cola from Mexico in glass bottles years ago, dayone — El Paso, to be specific.

      I enjoyed it so much that I uncharacteristically drank three bottles that day…

  4. And in other important news today…the sun rose and set again.

    That was a really long article to point out the obvious about Coke in a can in Mexico. Use ChatGPT to help you work through it and didn’t waste too much time.

  5. Blah, blah, blah. It’s Brian’s experience. I am not a soda drinker. But, when I had my first drink of MX Coca-Cola 13 years ago, there was a noticeable difference, more pleasant to me than US Coca-Cola. Even a relative, employed by the US Dept of State, with various overseas postings, remarked that the commissaries routinely stocked MX Coca-Cola because of its popularity.

    1. There is just something about Coca-Cola from Mexico that is significantly better than Coca-Cola from the United States, Firstlast.

      That is why I was disappointed about that can of Coca-Cola…

      …so I will continue to be on the lookout for the glass bottles…

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