Have you ever noticed that some Coca-Cola bottles have yellow caps this time of year? It’s not just a random change in design — there is an important reason why you see these yellow caps on certain bottles of Coca-Cola in the spring.
These special bottles with the yellow tops actually contain Coca-Cola that is kosher for Passover. Passover is a Jewish holiday that begins in March or April, depending on the lunar calendar. Also known as “Pesach,” this week-long celebration is a time for Jewish people to reflect on the story of Moses leading their people from slavery in Egypt.
During Passover, many observant Jews abstain from leavened foods in recognition of the Jewish people who fled the pharaoh and didn’t have time to wait for the bread to rise, or leaven. So, during the week of Passover, foods that are made with wheat, oats, spelt, barley and rye are to be avoided. For some Jewish families, even the crumbs of leavened foods must be swept up and completely removed from the pantry and cabinets.
In addition, many Ashkenazi Jews do not eat corn or corn by-products during Passover. For thousands of years, it was prohibited for Jews to eat corn, rice, legumes and seeds during this time. Although the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards voted in recent years to permit people to eat kitniyot during Pesach (“kitniyot” directly translates to legumes, but has a broader meaning of corn, rice and seeds during Passover), some Ashkenazi Jews still prefer not to eat any kitniyot during this time, meaning that corn and corn byproducts, such as high-fructose corn syrup, are off the table.
Since Coca-Cola is made with high-fructose corn syrup, this would make enjoying an ice-cold Coke a no-go during Passover. Even if you do eat kitniyot during Passover, Coca-Cola is also made with an enzyme that is derived from barley, which is also no-go for observant Jews during Passover.
That is why Coca-Cola rolls out their yellow-capped bottles during this time of year in certain stores. The Coke in the bottles with yellow caps is made without high-fructose corn syrup and without alpha-amylase, which is made from barely. Instead, these special Coca-Colas are made with sucrose or cane sugar.
Unless you are specifically searching for these bottles, you may not know why some Cokes have yellow tops and some have the classic red ones. One puzzled Coke shopper turned to Reddit with a snapshot of a lone yellow-topped Coca-Cola bottle set within a group of red-capped bottles. The bottle’s label is also slightly different and has the phrase, “Original Taste.”
This short video from Business Insider’s Twitter feed explains how Coca-Cola began rolling out a kosher version of their popular soft drink back in the 1930s:
If you've ever wondered why Coca-Cola caps are yellow during Passover — this is why pic.twitter.com/sdmUJL07FQ
— Business Insider (@BusinessInsider) July 24, 2018
This Coke formula is like the cult-favorite “Mexican Coke,” which is found in glass bottles and has a higher mark-up than traditional Coca-Cola. But these kosher-for-Passover Coca-Colas are priced similarly to regular Cokes, even though they are made with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
So, if you are a fan of the sugar cane version of Coca-Cola and you spot the yellow caps, grab a few bottles and stock up.