By now you probably know that Coke is terrible for your teeth. With a pH level close to that of battery acid and a whopping 39 grams of sugar per 12 oz. serving, this classic beverage works overtime to erode your tooth enamel and feed the bacteria in mouth. But why do we continue to drink the stuff when we know how bad it is? In other words, why is Coca-Cola so addicting?

We’re not the only ones asking the question. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss, author of the newly-released Sugar, Salt, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, took pains to find out the answer.

To help him in his search, Moss turned to Jeffrey Dunn, the former chief operating officer of Coca-Cola North America. According to Dunn, what makes Coke so irresistible goes beyond the sugar content and secret flavors. He says that until recently, even Coke itself wasn’t in tune with what made the drink so wildly popular.

In the late 1990s one of the brand’s top officers, Charlie Frenette, decided to do a little investigating. He hired a famous Swiss manufacturer of fragrances and flavors to figure out Coke’s distinct appeal. The manufacturer was quick to point out that the carbonation is a selling point in and of itself (taking a sip of a flat Coke confirms this), but he found something else as well — a “quirk of our biology” that processed food manufacturers have known for years: human beings enjoy foods with a strong flavor, but tire of them very quickly.

The example that Moss gives is that of meat: he says that meat eaters will push away a plate of highly seasoned turkey tetrazzini much faster than they would a plain hamburger of the same size. The phenomenon, known as “sensory-specific satiety”, is the power of one overwhelming flavor to trigger the feeling of fullness. This is a challenge to manufacturers trying to sell large quantities of their food and drink products to consumers. How to find that perfect balance between tasty and too tasty? Between exciting and familiar? The answer to that varies from product to product but what we do know is that Coca-Cola has definitely mastered that balance.

So there you have it. We seem to be biologically wired to favor Coca-Cola—but that doesn’t mean we have to give in to a soda addiction. For the sake of your smile, cut out or at least cut back on Cokes (and all sodas) and drink plenty of water as well.

Looking for a dentist in the Sugar Land area? Dr. Lance Jue and his team at A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe provide quality dental care at affordable rates. Contact the office today to schedule your first appointment.