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Science File / An exploration of issues and trends
affecting science, medicine and the environment.

I didn't Know That...

March 30, 2000

Q: I've been told that it's possible to tell the difference between a can of regular Coke or Pepsi and a can of the diet version without reading the label or opening the can. Is that true?

A: Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Diet sodas are normally sweetened with aspartame, which is about 150 times as sweet as the sugar or corn syrup used in regular Coke or Pepsi, so much less is needed. Therefore, a can of diet soda is slightly lighter in weight. You can't tell the difference by lifting the cans, but if you float them in the sink, the diet soda will ride slightly higher in the water, according to chemist Robert Wolke of the University of Pittsburgh.

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