I’m sure the question most of you have wanted to ask is, “So, what’s the Coke like over there?”  Not as good as I’d hoped, nor as bad as I’d feared.  Some people don’t realize that Coke tastes different all over the world, because while Coke makes a concentrate that is distributed to bottlers, it’s the bottlers who add the sweetener and the filtered, carbonated water.  Travel the world, and depending on where you are and what is the cheapest sweetener (usually high fructose corn syrup), the flavor of your Coke may vary.  The recipe can even change depending on the time of year.   In some places in the U.S., for example, bottlers produce Passover Coke, which is made with refined sugar instead of the usual corn syrup, since Jewish law forbids consuming anything made with chametz (which includes corn).

The Coke here Ireland is a little sweeter than that nectar of the gods, Coke as bottled in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.  I know, many purists believe the only real Coke is made with cane sugar as it used to be in the U.S. up until the 1980s (or right now, I suppose, since Passover is only two weeks away).  You can still find Coke with cane sugar, because Mexican Coke uses it, and you may be able to find bottles in some Mexican restaurants and stores (such as La Roca in Corvallis).  But Irish Coke is simply too sweet for my taste.  It’s more of a dessert Coke.  And, for whatever reason, the Coke here simply isn’t as carbonated.

Cost, though, is another big difference between here and the U.S.  It’s sometimes possible to buy two 2-litre bottles of Coke packaged together for €3.99 or even €2.99, but buy an individual 2-litre bottle and it’s around €2.59.  However, that’s the price for Coke you bring home.  Go to a restaurant or a pub, and you’ll usually be charged at least €2.50, sometimes as much as €3, and it won’t be a 20 ounce glass with free refills.  No, for that price you will probably get an 8 ounce bottle, generously poured into a glass with ice, with a refill costing only €3.  I say probably, because I know in one pub the bottle was even smaller.  At one restaurant that did sell fountain drinks, I desperately hoped for a larger drink.  Ha!  Our meals were ready, and out they came, along with a 6 ounce cup of Coke.  I seriously don’t think you can find glasses that small in the U.S.

All the pop comes in bottles or cans, because even convenience stores don’t sell fountain drinks.  Actually, this is what amazes me about the Centra near our apartment:  it doesn’t sell beer or fountain drinks (called fizzy drinks here).  In the states, convenience stores sell four things – beer, pop, cigarettes and Playboy.  All those other things you see on the shelves are just for show and have been there since the Reagan years.