Passover, Coke, and Ethanol

by Russ Roberts on July 8, 2008

in Prices

During Passover, traditional Jews from Eastern Europe have a custom of avoiding corn along with flour and bread and other forbidden foods. The idea is that corn can be used to make corn bread which might lead to confusion about what someone is eating.

As a result of this custom, Coca Cola does a run of kosher for Passover Coke that uses sugar rather than corn syrup. Some years back, Coke switched away from sugar and started using corn syrup as a sweetener. Part of the reason is that sugar in the United States is artificially expensive because of our despicable sugar quota system that benefits a handful of wealthy sugar beet and sugar cane farmers at the expense of the rest of us.

Supposedly there are Coke aficionados, purists, who prefer the taste of Coke with sugar to Coke with corn syrup. These folks find solace in either Mexican Coke which is still sweetened with sugar or kosher for Passover Coke. These purists stock up either when they are in Mexico or in April when kosher for Passover Coke is available. But there is a limit to how much you can stockpile–presumably in addition to inventory costs of money and space, after a while, the Coke just isn’t fresh enough. I assume purists also care about freshness.

Well there is good news on the horizon for Coke purists. Now that the price of corn is being artificially raised by the ethanol mandates of the U.S. government, I suspect that Coke will go back to using sugar if they haven’t already. Dear readers, if you come across anything on this switchover, please let me know.

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