Coca-Cola announced Wednesday it’s getting rid of Coke Zero later this year, replacing the diet soda with a retooled alternative called Coke Zero Sugar.
The “zero” in the original Coke Zero’s name referred to its lack of calories. The company went with the name to sell the drink to men, who according to studies found the name “Diet Coke” insufficiently masculine. Calling the retooled soda Coke Zero Sugar reflects the company’s belief that people are more worried these days about finding a sugar-free drink, though the new soda also still has zero calories.
The only small trouble is that the name “Coke Zero Sugar” is ambiguous. After all, is that a Coke with zero sugar, or a Coke Zero with sugar? Coca-Cola is banking on people understanding it’s the former, but longtime drinkers of Coke Zero could be forgiven for mistakenly assuming the company has taken their favorite soda off the market and replaced it with a sugary version. Maybe just calling it Coke No Sugar, its name in some of the countries where it’s already on sale, would clear up this entire business.
The drink debuted in the United Kingdom in April, and it’s since hit shelves in the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. Meant to taste more like regular Coke than the current Coke Zero, the soda is set to go on sale in the United States in August. It keeps the same artificial sweeteners as Coke Zero, although both the formula and its packaging have been altered to make it look more like a regular Coke.
This isn’t the first time Coca-Cola has retooled one of its drinks. The company endured perhaps the most infamous marketing disaster in history when it took original-flavor Coke off shelves in 1985 in favor of the reviled New Coke, a move the company reversed almost immediately. So one perhaps shouldn’t rule out the possibility that a few months from now will mark the debut of Coke Zero Classic.