Why Do People Put Lemon in Coke or Pepsi?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: October 31, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Have you ever gone to a cafe or restaurant where the waiter brought your drink of Coke or Pepsi with a slice of lemon on the side? It might seem odd, but the combination is quite common in different countries—it makes the soda drink much more refreshing.

In some countries, it’s Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi served along with lemon because it is lighter. In other places, spices like cinnamon, black pepper, etc., are added instead to make the drink more delicious.

Different combinations work for other people. This interesting duo might not be what you usually have, but it could easily become your new favorite beverage. Read more to find out!

What Happens When You Add Lemon to Coke or Pepsi?

Adding lemon to Coke or Pepsi adds a sour, tart taste to the drink and enhances its flavor. But, simultaneously, it doesn’t affect the appearance of the drink. 

The citrus taste from the lemon complements the sweetness of the Coke or Pepsi when added to it in small quantities. It makes the drink more refreshing, especially if you want to try something different. Adding too much, however, could make the soda drink taste bitter and unappealing. 

Chemically, adding lemon to the soda drink doesn’t cause a change as long as it’s in small amounts. Therefore, it doesn’t affect the nutritional value of the soda. In addition, since Coke and Pepsi themselves are quite acidic, the citric acid from the lemon doesn’t have much of an effect on the overall pH of the drink when added. 

But adding too large an amount of lemon can cause an adverse reaction with the ingredients present in the soda drink. I will discuss this further in the rest of the article. 

glass of cola with lemon wedge

Are there any benefits to adding lemon to Coke or Pepsi?

Although there’s no scientific evidence to back up the potential benefits of adding lemon to your Coke or Pepsi, you can make some deductions based on the individual properties of lemons and soda drinks.

First, the drink’s citrus is tantalizing to the taste buds. That’s because there’s a set of taste buds specifically for sour taste detection that get activated and produce a feeling of satisfaction when you taste citrus. 

cola drink with lemon and ginger

There’s a theory that humans are particularly attuned to sour taste because, in the early days, human beings relied on fruits as a diet. Then, due to evolution, they developed a sensitivity to the sour citrus taste to differentiate when fruits are ripe and unripe since unripe citrus fruits taste bland in comparison and not sour. 

Another possible benefit is that lemons contain Vitamin C. It helps strengthen the body’s immune system, so adding lemons can prove beneficial. However, a small amount might not do much good for you. 

Carbonated drinks like 7UP and lemon are often used when you have nausea and an upset stomach. This is because lemons contain neutralizing acids that help relieve nausea. In addition, the lemon also stimulates saliva production, which further helps make nausea dissipate. And carbonated water generally helps with nausea, which is a bonus.

Lastly, large consumption of carbonated drinks like soda can lead to kidney stones. Lemons have a high level of citrate, which prevents kidney stones. Thus, it’s plausible that adding lemon to Coke or Pepsi can decrease the chances of kidney stone formation, even if by a little. 

Why should you not add lemon to Coke or Pepsi?

Lemons in bars and restaurants may be unhygienic and cause health problems if added to your drinks. Moreover, lemons might adversely react to some of the ingredients in Coke and Pepsi.

Based on studies, lemons at restaurants, bars, and other eateries are riddled with microbes that can potentially be infectious. However, the likelihood of them being harmful isn’t concrete, so you might not get infected. But it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Furthermore, there are certain ingredients in both lemons and soda drinks that have the potential to react badly. For example, Coke and Pepsi contain the preservative Sodium Benzoate, which is known to have an adverse reaction with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), resulting in Benzene, a known carcinogen. However, it’s safe to add lemon to the drinks in small quantities.

What is boiled Coke with Lemon?

Boiled Coke with lemon is a famous cold remedy in Hong Kong. Despite the odd combination, it has proven to be a successful combo.

The combination allegedly began when a businessman in Hong Kong tried to sell Coke during winter. However, upon the customers’ demand for hot drinks, he boiled the Coke with lemon to serve instead.

Today, pieces of ginger are also added to the drink. You can boil Coke or Pepsi along with slices of lemon and ginger and end up with a sweet and sour hot drink with a medicinal feel. This drink has proven to alleviate flu and cold symptoms, possibly because of the ginger and the carbonation, which helps the digestive system.

boiled cola with lemons

What can you add to Coke or Pepsi Besides Lemon?

If you want to enhance the flavor of your Coke or Pepsi, you can mix in certain herbs and spices, syrups, and coffee, among many options. For example, across countries in Southeast Asia like India, Pakistan, etc., spices like black pepper and masala are added to Coke along with lemon to make a sort of lemon soda. 

This drink is especially popular in the summer and can help cool you down. It has a certain kick, and the range of sweetness and zesty is the perfect duo. 

On the other hand, if you want a sweet yet bitter combination, I have just the right drink for you. A refreshing cold drink made with Coke, condensed milk, coffee, and a twist of cinnamon might be just what you’re looking for. 

Conclusion

What started as a peculiar blend is much more than you would think. Adding lemon to your Coke or Pepsi is not just a refreshing beverage; it also has potential benefits that make it even more likable as a drink. 

Trying new things can be interesting, whether you have your Coke or Pepsi with lemon, ginger, cinnamon, or some other combo. I’m sure this zesty and unique flavor will be a great experience for you if you give it a shot!