Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

I can't even remember that last time I tasted Coke.

It's one of those drinks that became, quite early for me, sickly sweet.

In recent years, sugary, fizzy beverages have struggled to maintain their grip on the world's palate, as new, pulsating things have emerged.

Vitamin Water! It's so exciting!

Now, however, Coca-Cola is trying again to create a version of its iconic drink that won't make you larger and won't make your teeth fall out so quickly.

Coke Zero is being disappeared and replaced by something called, please hold your breath, Coca-Cola No Sugar. Or, in some markets, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

So snappy.

The changing of the slimline guard has already begun in countries such as Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In Australia, too, 2 million free samples are being distributed in the hope that people will say: "Oh, goodness. This tastes like the real thing. The real, sickly, sugary, fizzy thing."

Coca-Cola No Sugar is the result of five years of research and, the company claims, it has the very same ingredients as Coke Zero. Which are secret, so don't bother asking.

The packaging is even closer to the original Coke look.

Perhaps this is a reflection of the confidence Coke's marketers have that people just won't be able to tell the difference between its core product and this research-driven, emotionally uplifting concoction.

Somehow, I fear that many soft drinks have had their era.

Coke taught the world to sing and showed polar bears how to truly enjoy Christmas.

But trends can be inexorable. Two years ago, soda consumption in the US sank to a 30-year low.

Consumers began to wonder over the years whether the magical ingredients that made calorie-free drinks still enjoy tolerable taste might be nasty chemicals that would ultimately make them ill.

And so people began to walk away.

Kids, you know, are very serious these days. They're so serious that they've even started voting.

Somehow, I fear, Coca-Cola No Sugar won't sweeten the path to their hearts again. They're embittered, you see.

Published on: Jun 10, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.