Why Do Canned And Bottled Soda Taste Different?

Sometimes, a cold, bubbly, sweet soda can be completely irresistible. Whether you're alleviating the summer heat with a creamy root beer float, sipping a Sprite alongside a greasy slice of pizza, or chasing down a burger and fries with a Coke, that syrupy, fizzy flavor can, on certain occasions, be hard to beat.

If you're a soda connoisseur — or even just an occasional indulger — then you may have noticed that the same brand of soda tends to taste different depending on whether you're drinking from a can, a plastic bottle, or a glass bottle. So if the ingredients are the same in all three cases, why would the flavor of the soda vary? Turns out there are various factors at play, from soda can linings to the chemical makeup of plastic bottles — and they can actually have a big impact on how much we enjoy our soda. Read on to learn more.

Soda's packaging affects its taste

Any soda drinker has their preference between a cold can, plastic bottle, or glass bottle. But do beverages such as Coke and Sprite really taste differently depending on how they're packaged? According to food chemist Sara Risch, they definitely can. Speaking with Popular Science, she explained, "While packaging and food companies work to prevent any interactions, they can occur." Aluminum cans, for example, are lined with a polymer that might absorb some flavor from the soda, altering its taste. And in the instance of plastic bottles, acetaldehyde, a chemical that's found in the plastic, can work in an opposite manner, leaching some of its flavor into the soda (via Popular Science).

Glass bottles are the most neutral container for soda, per Insider. They don't contain any other chemical ingredients besides the glass, and they also trap carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for soda's carbonation, much better than a plastic bottle, and an extra-fizzy soda will taste differently than a flat one.

Soda makers say that no matter which packaging you buy their product in, it will taste the same. "The great taste of Coca-Cola is the same regardless of the package it comes in," a brand spokesperson told Popular Science. But science (and soda drinkers everywhere) has proven that's simply not true. So the next time you crack into a cold one, you might want to run a taste test to see if a can, plastic bottle, or glass bottle is your groove.