From the Foodies Fridge: The Best Diet Soda Pairings

Ever since the foodies took over the world we’ve been besieged with the concept of “food pairings”. Not content with insisting that food is only good when there’s some jizzy foam or liquid nitrogen in it, the foodies are now telling us what we need to drink with different foods.

The whole food pairing movement started with wine. Traditional rules like “red with meat, white with fish, Manischewitz with matzoh” were replaced with more sophisticated combinations like pinot noir with turkey or chateauneuf du pape with cheez doodles.

Next, foodie nation moved onto beer pairings, which is patently ridiculous because any beer pairs well with anything. I’ve railed at length about the unnecessary fancification of beer, so I won’t go into it further, but enough with the monocles and the doilies already. It’s beer.

But all of this talk about drink pairings is largely useless because most people only drink alcohol with approximately 38% of their meals. What about the other 62%?  Will someone please think about the children?

Therefore I have taken it upon myself to create drink pairings that will help all of us every day. I’m talking about which diet soda to pair with your lunch. (Please note that these pairings are based on the sodas that are available in my office fridge and my usual rotation of lunch choices.)

Sprite Zero is a very mild soda with notes of lemon and lime – limon, if you will. I like to pair a mild soda with a bold lunch choice, for example BBQ ribs from the Redbones food truck. (Please keep this between us because my wife will be totes mad if she catches me eating BBQ at work this early into resolution season.)

Diet Orange Crush also features strong citrus characteristics, but is a much more forceful flavor that can dominate the palate. Therefore I recommend a food that can both stand up to the soda and yield to the soda at the same time. Something like a caesar salad with blackened chicken works well, as your mouth will delight in the interplay between spice, sweet and crouton.

Diet Mountain Dew is almost the beer of sodas. It’s so delicious and universally appealing that it can work well with anything. Therefore I like to do the Dew when eating sad soup for one at my desk (soup flavor is optional). The key here is that sad soup for one is, by definition, sad and Diet Mountain Dew is, by definition, extreme. A palliative for the soul, Diet Dew can turn sad soup for one into slightly-less-sad soup for one.

Diet Coke is a girl’s soda now, so I guess it goes best with skipping lunch and shopping, because ladies be shopping, amirite? No? Okay, I’ll see myself out now.

Coke Zero is a manly soda for macho men with bad attitudes who are just itching for trouble. And when I’m ready to rumble I like to fight through the long-ass line at the Paradise Bakery and get a nice roast beef sandwich. Best of all, free cookie!!!! (Okay, scratch that last part, which in retrospect doesn’t sound all that manly. But seriously, free cookie!!!!)

Diet Ginger Ale pairs best with saltines when you have a bad tummy. Let’s be honest – Ginger Ale is more medicine than soda. Ginger Ale is one of those things like Mary Jane candies or “My Three Sons” that seemed okay in the ‘70s, but are clearly terrible in an era when we have more and better choices.

Speaking of bad tummies, remember that it’s NFL championship weekend which means that you’re going to want to avoid the Men’s room on Monday at all costs. Trust me, it’s a goddamn war zone in there this time of year. Remember, just because you don’t work on that floor doesn’t mean you can’t use their bathroom!

Diet Mug Root Beer is another strong flavor that is sweet, with a hint of smoke, peat and malt. Some fruit also comes through. Oh wait, I just copied that from some scotch tasting notes. Mmmm dirt! How delicious. But seriously, root beer is kind of crappy, so I don’t care what you eat with it. Subway is always good.

I hope that you found this exercise valuable and rewarding. Remember, choosing a beverage has nothing to do with drinking what you like. It’s all about listening to some stranger on the internet tell you what to do.


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