Which Is Better: Diet Coke Or The Aldi Brand?

When Diet Coke launched in 1982, it was an undeniable game-changing success. Four decades later, it remains firmly entrenched in the cola hierarchy. Not only has it been able to successfully withstand the introduction of countless low- and no-calorie offerings from beverage competitors and even similar offerings from within the Coke family, but it is the fifth most valuable brand worldwide when it comes to the entire soft drink field (via Statista).

Thus, it should come as no surprise that low-cost German-based retailer Aldi — which is known for its, shall we say, "cover versions" of popular food and beverage items — introduced its own diet cola under the house Summit brand. It's rather similar to Diet Coke in multiple ways. Both options are available at Aldi, so if you're shopping at one of their stores and diet cola is on your grocery list, which brand should you choose? We put the two diet colas to the test, evaluating their cost, nutritional value (or lack thereof), and, of course, the all-important taste. Here are our findings when comparing Diet Coke to Aldi brand Summit Diet Cola.

How do their cost and size compare?

Once you make your way to the soda aisle, it becomes clear that Aldi went out of their way to force you to compare their product with the diet cola G.O.A.T. If you take a look at the photo above, you'll notice that the 12-pack of Summit Diet Cola cans is sold right alongside the 12-pack of Diet Coke cans. Bold move, indeed.

So, why the swagger when going up against a soda giant? Well, if you compare the price tag of each offering, Aldi's confidence becomes as clear as Crystal Pepsi. The Summit Diet Cola 12-pack is $2.69, while the double sixer of Diet Coke is $5.78. That's over twice as much for a similarly sized package. 

To be clear, our use of "similarly" isn't a mistake. Yes, in both cases, each box contains a dozen 12-ounce cans of soda. But if you get down to the metrics, the packaging indicates that each can of Summit Diet Cola contains 360 mL of soda, while the carbonated liquid contents of a can of Diet Coke are but a mere 355 mL. A very minor discrepancy, obviously, but coupled with the rather major difference in cost, there is no doubt that Summit Diet Cola starts off this comparison on top.

How do their nutritional values compare?

First of all, let's set the record straight: "diet" soda isn't necessarily all that healthy. In fact, a recent study of diet soda conducted by Penn Medicine indicates that regular and intense consumption of such beverages may result in serious health issues. These can include stroke, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and other medical conditions that are, shall we say, not great. A key factor in this unhealthy equation is aspartame, the artificial sweetener used in the soft drink, which studies indicate may throw off your metabolism and cause bodily chaos. Aspartame also happens to be the artificial sweetener used in Summit Diet Cola. 

The other ingredients in both sodas are shared as well and include carbonated water, caramel color, natural flavor, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, citric acid, and caffeine. As for that final yet notable addition, Summit Diet Cola contains 34 milligrams of caffeine per can while a can of Diet Coke features 46 milligrams of caffeine — not really much of a difference. 

Taking a look at the rest of the nutrition facts, you'll find zeros down the line for Summit Diet Cola when it comes to calories, total fat, sodium, total carbohydrate, total sugars, and protein. That's basically the same for Diet Coke with one minor exception: Each can contains 40 milligrams of sodium, which amounts to a scant 2% of the standard recommended daily value. In other words, as far as this nutritional comparison goes, it's a draw between the two.

Which tastes better?

When conducting the all-important taste test, we decided to take a cue from Pepsi and sample both diet colas blind. Upon taking a sip of the first candidate, we immediately detected some odd, almost wintery flavor notes that remind us of cinnamon and clove. It also lacked the tangy hit you get from your standard sugar-pumped cola, though the carbonation was sufficiently fizzy. But things took a turn for the worse on the finish, as the off-putting aspartame aggressiveness started to coat our palates. At that point, we began to detect some subtle hints of, dare we say, soap.

Truth be told, having imbibed many a Diet Coke in our day, we knew right away this was not that beverage. Sample two all but confirmed our suspicion. It offered that familiar, muted, middle-of-the-road cola taste without the strange herbaceous factor of the initial drink. The artificial sweetener was still certainly noticeable on the finish but was not as pronounced as what we experienced with our first candidate.

Indeed, our instincts were correct, as it was revealed Summit Diet Cola was the first sample and Diet Coke was the closer. Having never tried Summit Diet Cola before, we assumed that the taste would be far more similar. Unfortunately for Aldi, that was not the case. The edge here definitely goes to Diet Coke.

Which diet cola is the overall winner?

There are two main factors that separate Diet Coke from Summit Diet Cola. First, there is the difference in cost, which is, relatively speaking, rather significant. Aldi is famed for its budget offerings and Summit Diet Cola certainly falls under that category.

But when it comes to flavor, Summit Diet Cola is without a doubt a downgrade from Diet Coke. The gap isn't quite the equivalent of a real-deal Italian handbag versus what you'll find sprawled out on a blanket in Times Square. It's more of a "Property Brothers" situation, similar to how Jonathan Scott is a slightly better version of Drew Scott (sorry, Drew fans, it's just a fact).

So who should take the overall crown? In this case, that call comes down to how devoted you are to Diet Coke. If you happen to be a longtime fan (and we recognize that there are plenty of those), the taste difference is significant enough that it might be worth spending some extra cash to enjoy the real thing. But if you're a casual diet cola drinker, Summit Diet Cola is a decent enough option, especially for the price. And then, of course, there is always option three: simply skip diet cola altogether. After all, if you drink a Diet Coke every day, it may lead you down a path to kidney damage, migraine headaches, and, shockingly enough, obesity. So, at the very least, enjoy either one of these soda treats in moderation.