We Try Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda

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[Photograph: Jed Portman]

I'd seen Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge soda on shelves before, but never picked it up, because I'd holding out all these years for the regular Chocolate Fudge soda that I learned just this afternoon does not exist.

Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge soda was dreamed up as a diet aid by one of the executives of the A.J. Canfield Company back in the mid-1970s. This executive, it seems, was a chocoholic who hoped that a zero-calorie fudge soda might stem his cravings and slim his figure. After some trial and error, the company's chemists managed to capture the flavor of chocolate fudge in a low-calorie soda, sweetened with saccharin at first, then aspartame.

The soda lingered in the shadows of the novelty-drink world until 1985, when the Chicago Tribune's Bob Greene wrote in his nationally-syndicated column that "a sip of the stuff is like biting into a hot fudge sundae." Sales went up 5,000 percent and have been coasting along nicely ever since.

"Diet chocolate" may sound like an unpleasant thing, particularly in liquid form. And this soda is loaded with aspartame, which I place only a spot or two above rat urine on the list of things that I like to see in my soft drinks.

But Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge soda defies expectations. As satisfied customers on Amazon and elsewhere attest, the folks at Canfield really did nail the flavor of chocolate when they came up with this one. The soda doesn't taste like fudge, quite—I'd place the flavor between that of a Tootsie Roll and that of a Yoo-Hoo, with a touch of root beer—but it's most definitely packing enough chocolate flavor to satisfy a dieter's cravings.

The aspartame does leave a watery chemical aftertaste, unfortunately, making it clear that even the work of a gifted chemist cannot blend the sweetener all the way into the background. Were this stuff made with actual sugar, I think it would be unstoppable. As it is, it's not bad for a diet soda.

About the Author: Jed Portman is blogging his way to that cabin in East Tennessee, one six-pack of soda and barbecue platter at a time. Follow him on Twitter @jdportman.

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