It’s that time of the year again folks — Passover season approaches, and with that comes the annual stocking of the KFP Coca-Cola, the “Real Thing”. I’ve resurrected and updated this post from last year so you can get the jump on it early. Both Coca-Cola of New York and Chicago have just started their production runs, so be vigilant!
(Originally posted on March 25, 2006)
In April of 1985, the Coca-Cola company announced that it was re-formulating its flagship carbonated drink, which to the horror of Coke fans everywhere, included a switchover to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Soon, the rest of the soft drink industry followed suit, and the classic taste of cane sugar-based sodas became practically extinct. Today, only a few small boutique soft drink companies still make sodas with refined cane sugar (or sucrose, made from sugar beets) a costly ingredient when compared with HFCS — but true carbonated beverage connoisseurs know and can tell the difference, as corn syrup has a characteristically cloying sweetness when compared to refined sugar. For nostalgic Coca-Cola lovers, unless you live in a foreign country that classic taste is but a distant memory.
Every late March and early April, for the two to three weeks leading up to the celebration of the Jewish Passover holiday season in the United States, Coke fans living in major metropolitan areas with large Jewish populations get their Real Thing, if only for that brief fleeting period. According to Jewish law, nothing made with chametz (any of a number of proscribed cereals and grains, including corn) during passover may be consumed — so in order not to lose sales from observant Jews during that eight day period, a small number of Coca-Cola bottlers make a limited batch of the original Coke formulation, using refined sugar. Needless to say, stocks run out quickly and fans of Passover Coke have been known to travel many miles seeking out supermarkets with remaining caches.
Passover Coke products (and Passover Pepsi) in 2-Liter bottles can be distinguished by their yellow caps, inscribed either with just the “OU-P” symbol and/or the words Kosher L’Pesach in Hebrew. The canned variety is rare and is known to be produced only by a scant few bottling companies in the United States – if you can find any, be sure to snap it up.
Here’s the official word from the OU Passover Web Site for 2009:
Coca Cola will again be available with an OU-P for Pesach. Aside from the New York metropolitan area, Coke will be available in Boston, Baltimore-Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. This year, in New York, Coca Cola items will be made with an OU-P in 2 liter bottles and in cans. Other locations will have more limited Coke items made in different sizes. All these items, of course, require the OU-P symbol. Most of the bottling plants servicing these markets will designate the Passover Coke items with a distinctive yellow cap in addition to the OU-P symbol on the cap or shoulder of the bottle.
Chicago Coke fans need not worry — this year, the Chicago Rabbinical Council is having Passover Coke made with the cRc P-09 logo on the cap using local bottlers. cRc also has Passover Coke in cans, which is nearly impossible to find anywhere else in the country.
If you live in Cleveland, I also heard this recently from one of our readers:
“As an employee of the Cleveland Coca-Cola Bottling Company I can confirm that the plant does use sugar cane as a sweetener year round. Cleveland Coca-Cola is the exclusive Coke supplier of all of Cuyahoga County, however, not everything available in Cuyahoga County is actually produced in Cleveland. Look at the label and check the ingredients for “Sucrose.”"
In addition to Coke and Pepsi products made with real sugar, you should also be able to find nationally Dr. Brown’s, perhaps the best black cherry soda on the planet in Kosher for Passover form. And to further improve your Passover Coke, hit it with a shot of Passover formulated Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup.
For more on Passover Coke, be sure to listen to this interesting NPR broadcast from 2004.
For more on Mexican Coke, KFP Coke’s south of the border cousin, have a look at what Kate at Accidental Hedonist has to say.