Why Does Fountain Diet Coke Taste Better at McDonald's?
Have you ever sipped on a half-empty bottle of Diet Coke in your car, then grabbed lunch at a McDonald's drive-through? If so, you've likely noticed the huge difference between the soda you were drinking and the one you just bought from McDonald's.
For years, I would swear to my friends that McDonald's sodas taste better. There are many theories out there as to why, including:
- "They put more syrup into the mixture."
- "McDonald's salty food makes you thirsty, and when you're thirsty, sodas taste better."
- "McDonald's has a secret contract with Coke!" (This is my favorite.)
Well, after all this time, I finally decided to do some research and find out if McDonald's Coca-Cola does in fact taste better and, if so, why? What I found might surprise you.
What Sets McDonald's Coca-Cola Apart?
1. McDonald's Uses Quality Water
First of all, McDonald's invests a fair amount of money—more than most (if not all) of the competition—to ensure that each of its restaurants has a high-end water filtration system. They use the best equipment money can buy and have routine maintenance programs in place to maintain the entire system, front to back.
In essence, water is filtered twice through a very high-end filtration system.
2. Cold Water Holds More Carbonation
Second, insulated tubing is run from the back refrigeration unit all the way to the front and drive through units. The soda water is constantly recirculated through this frigid tubing system so that it can remain between 33–38 degrees at all times.
Keeping this water chilled is necessary to maintain superior CO2 levels.
Cold water can hold more CO2, which means that it can become more carbonated. Better soda water ultimately makes a crisper soda.
The CO2 carbonators themselves are actually submerged in ice water. The average temperature of the soda coming out of the fountain at McDonald's is 36 degrees. Management is also trained to check temperatures and calibration settings. Even the syrup lines are bundled with the soda lines to chill the syrup!
3. More Soda Sold Means a Fresher Product
Third, McDonald's sells a very high volume of soda. This means that the syrup does not sit around for very long, unlike at other restaurants.
Most McDonald's sell so much in fact, that their syrup does not come in boxes like most franchises.
Coca-Cola actually ships McDonald's syrup in stainless steel tanks. These syrup tanks keep the product cooler and a bit fresher.
The Noticeably Better Taste Is Not by Chance
The bottom line as to why McDonald's Diet Coke—and, for that matter, the rest of their sodas, their coffee, and even their tap water—tastes better is because of the extra attention paid to the beverage systems. Better equipment gives them a huge advantage over the competition, especially when it comes to water quality and temperature. They literally ultra-filter their water twice before mixing it with anything.
Now think about this: Why would you pay for bottled water when you now know that there is a good chance the water coming from the soda fountain may be as good if not better? (Not to mention you get a cup with ice when you ask for a free water.)
Did You Know?
- That Coca-Cola has been sold in McDonald's since the beginning? Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald's a global franchise, called up Coca-Cola and began the two companies' business relationship when he opened his first McDonald's in 1955.
- In turn, Coca-Cola has given McDonald's some of its trademark ideas. For example, in 1993, Coca-Cola came up with the idea of McDonald's bundling its soda with a burger and fries, creating the Extra Value Meal. Later on, Coca-Cola also helped McDonald's develop its smoothies.
- Coca-Cola does not allow its sales teams to sell its syrup to any other restaurant for less than the price McDonald's pays.