David took his first sip of warm, flat Pepsi about eight years ago at a Christmas party. As bored 12-years-olds are wont to do, he recalls “constantly fiddling around” with his Pepsi bottle the entire night, to the point that the soda lost all carbonation and turned into syrup-y sugar water. Still, he swigged away nonetheless. “I enjoyed the taste so much more, and the carbonation didn’t upset my stomach or burn my eyes and throat,” he says.
Ever since that fateful evening, David purposefully flattens every soda he drinks. In fact, he’s turned the process into a science. “I usually open the bottle, screw the cap back on, shake it a little, opening the cap slightly to allow the pressure to ease, and then repeat the process over and over while keeping it from exploding,” he explains.
David prefers flat Dr. Pepper, and while people give him strange looks when they realize what he’s doing, he’s not alone in his proclivity for flat pop.
A 20-year-old in Georgia who goes by “Bravalan” says he’s been drinking flat soda ever since he was home sick from grade school with the flu. “My grandma was watching me, and she always recommended I drink Sprite for a stomach ache,” he tells me. “But the level of carbonation made my stomach hurt, so I always complained, until finally she suggested I just wait for the Sprite to go flat. I’d never really done that before, so I agreed.”
Bravalan’s grandma set out a cup of Sprite for 10 minutes, added some ice when it became flat and handed it to her sick grandson. “It was eye-opening,” he says. “The fizz that made my stomach hurt and my taste buds die was gone. It tasted like a lemon-lime drink, rather than a gut punch.”
Now, Bravalan “airs out” every soda he drinks. Once the carbonation is gone, he adds some ice just before taking a sip to avoid watering it down. “The ‘fizz’ of the drink pollutes the flavor,” he says, “So airing it out helps me feel better, and helps the drink taste better.”
As the only person in his friend group who enjoys flat soda, Bravalan says he typically only flattens liters of Sprite if no one else wants any. But they’re otherwise cool with his predilection. That’s not always the case, though, and being an outcast in a pro-carbonation society weighs on many soda flatteners.
“One day my auntie saw me doing it and said I was a ‘dickhead,’” says Clarkey, a 37-year-old in the U.K. Clarkey was attempting to flatten his Coke by pouring sugar into it, a method he’d heard about online. “I used to leave drinks to go flat by themselves, but that wasn’t convenient when I was thirsty,” he tells me. In fairness to his aunt, after calling him a dickhead, she suggested he “just stir it,” since the drink already had so much sugar in it. “That was perfect,” he says. “It was the nicest pop I’d ever drank, so now I do it all the time: Get it from the fridge, pour it into a glass and stir it until it’s just the way I like it — cold and flat.”
“It’s so much smoother and far more pleasurable to drink,” he continues. Not to mention, he says, you’re able to drink a lot more in one sip, so “you can really feel like you’re quenching your thirst — plus, the taste is purer.”
“Fizzy soda has two major issues in my mind: The first is the actual sensation of the fizzy while drinking. It detracts from the taste of the drink,” explains James, a 20-year-old in Oklahoma who strictly drinks cans of Sprite he’s either left open in the fridge overnight or bottled sodas he’s shaken and aired out. “The second is that many fizzy sodas have a bad aftertaste. Flattening them removes both of these issues.”
“People who dislike fizzy soda are more split on if it’s the taste or texture,” posits Lily, a soda-flattener in Australia. “Whereas people who dislike flat soda say it tastes horrible, so it might just come down to how much sugar people can handle.”
Either way, there’s no doubt that Lily loves flat soda. She’ll drink it “warm, cold or anything in between!” And if she has absolutely no alternative, she’ll “swoosh the carbonated drink around in my mouth to make it less carbonated before swallowing every sip I take.”
If drinking flat soda were a crime, well then, surely I’d be doing time
From the moment I took my first sip, I was sent on a wonderful trip
The sugary liquid no longer severe, yes it had become truly clear!
Flat soda no longer sharp at last, it was quite amazing the contrast
My drink now light and sweet, I had found quite the sugary treat.
Flat or not, how can that not be the height of beverage consumption?