The Subtle Mystery of LaCroix’s “LaCola”

I tried to make a drawing inspired by the can, but it kinda looks like a bad picture of the box.

I have a love-love relationship with Coke Zero. Excuse me, “Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.” It tastes good, I feel like it’s less likely to give me dental problems than sugary soda, and it’s a good-enough mixer.

However, this month I tried to give up sugar/artificial sweeteners. (This lasted like four days?) During this time, I went to Whole Foods to pick up some of LaCroix’s mysterious boxes of “LaCola.”

Before I tried one, I found the premise confusing. First of all, it has two names. The main part of the can says, “la CoLa,” but the top of the can says, “NiCola.” To research, I initially googled “NiCola” but found nothing LaCroix-related at all. I did learn that Nicola is a Latinized version of the Greek name Nikolaos.

With “LaCroix LaCola,” I had some success. Here’s what its product page says:

“The first of its kind, a revolutionary experience… Natural cola essenced sparkling water completely Innocent!

0 – Calorie
0 – Sweetener
0 – Sodium

I’ve worked on FDA-regulated brands, and never once have I seen “innocent” used as any kind of health claim qualifier. So, in that sense, I assume it’s meaningless. Although on the other hand, like, I get it. LaCroix IS super innocent. Their cola has two names!

This information answered some of my questions. There is no sweetener of any kind. Or sodium, which I don’t necessarily care about. But is there caffeine? Under the nutrition facts, it says, “Ingredients: Only carbonated water, naturally essenced.” I’ll assume that means no.

This answers a lot of my questions, except what “naturally essenced” means. Wired has a great article that answers this, so I’ll link to it rather than repeat what I learned. Basically, I imagine LaCroix flavors its sodas how I spruce up my bath, by dropping essential oils into it.

But I’m not here to answer the question of “what is LaCroix?” I’m here to tell you if “LaCola” is any good.

Here’s what you need to know:

-It’s not brown. I expected it to be, because Coke and Pepsi are. But that might involve food colorings, which are not LaCroix’s jam. This is clear.

-It does have a “cola” taste.” I tried to pinpoint what that means, but I just picture the Drunk History where Jenny Slate demonstrates Coke’s original formula by pouring cocaine, sugar and wine into something mysterious called “cola.” Maybe it’s a sort of mix of ginger, lemon and honey? LaCola captures this well, although subtly.

-It’s good. Because I am a child of the 90’s, when soda was a food group, it’s quickly become my go-to LaCroix flavor. Also, it has a tall can, which is pop semiotics for “fancy.”

-Its spiciness and clarity makes it a nice cocktail mixer for non-clear liquors, like whiskey or rum. Unlike using Coke as a mixer, you can get creative and add things like honey, ginger or lemon to enhance its flavor.

-It’s pricey. But so is LaCroix.

Overall, I have found it a surprisingly pleasant replacement for soda. It’s also become just something I want to have after lunch. If you’re looking to cut out some sugar or fake sugar from your diet, it’s not a bad option. Here’s to being INNOCENT!