Then, I opened a can of Diet Coke from my garage and it tasted NASTY. There was no flavor to it at all. It tasted like soda water. So I went on the Diet Coke website to look for a way to report it to the company. In the Frequently Asked Questions on the website, I found this:
Why is the U.S. fountain version of Diet Coke sweetened with aspartame and saccharin?This explains both why the Diet Coke I had from the garage was nasty and why W and I prefer the fountain variety of Diet Coke. First, the Diet Coke in the garage came from a large case that's been sitting in the HEAT in the garage for quite some time, so I think the aspartame lost its sweetness. Second, the fountain variety has SACCHARIN in it!!!
Because aspartame by itself is heat and pH-sensitive (meaning it loses sweetness over time), the concentrated found syrup causes aspartame to lose it sweetness faster than it would in a finished beverage. Fountain diet drinks, therefore, are sweetened with a blend of aspartame and saccharin to assure maximum product quality.
Flashback - It was always weird for me pulling in to foreign ports and buying their local version of "Coke Light" and getting used to the sweetness of the saccharin they still use in the canned sodas overseas. Then, coming home from deployment, I would have to let my tastebuds get used to the American version with aspartame again.
Come to think of it, I coulda sworn saccharin had been outlawed in the U.S. When I looked it up on wikipedia though, it says it is not, in fact, banned in the U.S. (but it is in Canada). There was a proposed ban in 1977, and that's probably why a lot of soda companies switched to other artificial sweeteners like aspartame, but studies since then have shown it is NOT a carcinogen. "In 1991, after fourteen years, the FDA formally withdrew its 1977 proposal to ban the use of saccharin, and in 2000, the U.S. Congress repealed the law requiring saccharin products to carry health warning labels" (from the Wikipedia article).