The Coca-Cola Company Sweetener Challenge

The Sweetener Challenge seeks a natural, safe, low/reduced-calorie compound that tastes like sugar when used in beverages and foods. Read Overview...

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Don't forget to check out the Sweet Story Challenge

Sugar.   Known also as sucrose (half glucose and half fructose), it sweetens most of what we enjoy eating and drinking.  Historically, sugar was extracted from sugar cane, which humans have been utilizing as a source of sweetener for thousands of years.  More recent developments have allowed for sweeteners to be derived from other plants, like beets and corn.  Sweeteners have evolved to include sugar alternatives and even naturally derived low- and no-calorie sweeteners.  As consumers continue to seek natural and low calorie options for their diets, these natural sweeteners provide new options.  While a tremendous amount of research has gone into the discovery and development of natural low- and no-calorie compounds, we still think there are novel compounds to be discovered and developed!

That’s why we are seeking your help: to find a natural, safe, reduced, low- or no-calorie compound that generates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages and foods.  The Coca-Cola Company is excited to sponsor The Coca-Cola Company Sweetener Challenge (the “Challenge”). 


Why Issue a Challenge? 

At The Coca-Cola Company, we are constantly innovating and refreshing our portfolio to meet the consumer’s tastes and lifestyles. And we know that amazing ideas can come from anywhere.  The Coca‑Cola Company Sweetener Challenge is looking for a natural, safe, reduced, low- or no-calorie compound that creates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages and foods.  We think that somewhere in the world, there is an individual or team of people who can solve our challenge!


The Challenge Breakthrough

The Coca-Cola Company Sweetener Challenge is looking for a natural, safe, reduced, low- or no-calorie compound that creates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages and foods.  The compound must not contain, or be derived from, Stevia or Lo Han Guo (Monk Fruit), or from any list of protected species or substances issued by any regulatory body in any country.


What Can You Do Right Now?

  • Read the complete challenge guidelines to see the rules and requirements for entry into the challenge.
  • “Accept Challenge” by clicking the orange button above to compete in the challenge. 
  • Follow the challenge above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.
  • Share this challenge on social media using the icons above. Show your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  • Start a conversation in our Forum to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.
Updates 17

A Different Kind of Taste Sensation Recreation

Nov. 14, 2017, 7 a.m. PST by Paul Musille

Mocktail Mania:

For the nearly one-third of U.S. adults who are non-drinkers, the growing category of spirit-flavored beverages makes sense. Now the challenge is capturing the essence of cocktails, without the alcoholic components. Much like the Sweetener Challenge, mixologists and foodies are tasked with finding the most “authentic” tasting substitutes that can recreate the unique tastes associated with liquors and malt beverages -- minus the ethanol, of course.  

Read all about their progress and some creative alternatives to “adult” beverages here:


Victory Really IS Sweeter

Nov. 2, 2017, 11:13 a.m. PDT by Paul Musille

Did you know that winning actually alters our perception of taste. Something to keep in mind for the end of this competition! It all sounds like the set up for a pun, but this is science. During the 2013-2014 hockey season, a scientific study was conducted on the way fans of different teams experienced taste. Based on data from 550 fans, the scientists found that positive emotions following a winning game correlated with enhanced sweet intensities and lessened sour flavors. The negative emotions associated with a loss, on the other hand, tended to decrease sweet taste and boost sour flavors. Results from a tie came in, as one might expect, in the middle.


Read more here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/winning-really-does-taste-sweet-because-emotions-change-taste-perception-180956510/#K6UEgA8JBGYCf1H

Tongue Burn = A Flavor Graveyard?

Sept. 20, 2017, 7 a.m. PDT by Maureen Murtha

We’ve all been there: eager to down that first glug of coffee and YOWCH! Way too hot. Now your tongue is aflame and you’re wondering if you should reach for an ice cube. Another classic - the all-too-familiar roof of the mouth/tongue combo PIZZA BURN. It just looked. So. Good. Yeah, that pizza burn can lay up your sense of taste for quite a while.

While we’ve all experienced the unfortunate sensation of a self-inflicted mouth burn - did you know that the effect on your tastebuds is lasting? Further, researchers have actually used this relatively mild type of injury to better understand how the brain and mouth communicate about taste - with pretty remarkable results! Read all about it in Wired’s article WHAT A MOUSE’S MIXED-UP TASTE BUDS SAY ABOUT THE BRAIN.

Sweet Story Challenge Comes to a Close

Sept. 19, 2017, 3 p.m. PDT by Maureen Murtha

Greetings Community! 

Thanks for your commitment to the Sweetener Challenge. You're not alone in your excitement to be part of Coca-Cola's crowdsourcing efforts, as the Sweet Story Challenge has also enjoyed a fantastic run these past few months. Their group of storytellers has now surpassed a whopping 1,000 members! 

But all good things must come to an end - and as we're rapidly approaching the end of the submission period for Sweet Story Challenge, we'd hate for you to miss out on your chance to participate! 

That's right -- you can submit to BOTH the Sweetener Challenge AND the Sweet Story Challenge; in fact, we highly encourage it. With a $150,000 in prize money available through Sweet Story, there's no reason for you to hold out! 

IMPORTANT: There are just 10 days remaining in the submission phase for Sweet Story Challenge. If you haven't started a submission, we urge you to do so in the next few days. 

All the best, and good luck to all, in both ventures! 


-The HeroX Team 


Taste Science Library

Sept. 12, 2017, 8 a.m. PDT by Maureen Murtha

Our sense of taste has a pretty serious seat at the table when it comes to how us humans experience the world. Perhaps this is because of the powerful coalition between taste and smell that, combined, affect our emotions, can trigger deep memory recall, and even help keep us from dying (of something poisonous. Or rotten.) Here’s a really interesting site called the “Taste Science Library” that takes a number of deep dives at different aspects of what taste is and how it functions within our brains. A great place to start is with the post “What is Taste?” but there’s way more content where that came from!


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