While Coca-Cola's (NYSE:KO) new reduced-carb cola C2 hasn't yet hit the States, it has arrived in Japan with a bang. In addition to a television ad campaign, Coca-Cola partnered with McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) to give out complimentary samples of C2 with Big Mac meals, and free samples were being handed out in the streets on Sunday as well.

As an investor, I have to agree with fellow Fools Alyce Lomax and Chris Mallon. I am skeptical of the need for a middle-of-the-carb-spectrum cola like C2 or PepsiCo's (NYSE:PEP) planned Edge cola. The appeal to diet-cola drinkers will be minimal, and in order to lure in regular-cola drinkers, it has to taste like good old-fashioned Coke, not just carry the reduced-carb moniker.

Still, while skeptical, I had hoped Coca-Cola's cocktail of natural and artificial sweeteners would deliver that regular-cola taste and just maybe give me an excuse to drink an extra Coke every once in a while. After all, at half the carbs the repercussions wouldn't be so severe, right? Unfortunately, Coca-Cola C2 didn't deliver. This taste tester found C2 to be an unappealing blend of Coke and Diet Coke, which, given the mix of natural and artificial sweeteners, is not too surprising. I don't think this bodes well for C2 or, in all likelihood, for Pepsi Edge.

After giving C2 a try, I'm left wondering why Coca-Cola bothered to go down the half-the-carbs road at all. Instead of launching a mid-range soda for which Pepsi will have a direct competitor, Coke would have done better to leverage one of its unique strengths. A quick glance at their respective websites shows that Coke has a deep roster of international brands that Pepsi simply can't match. While it's true that Coke licenses many brands internationally, many of the brands listed are honest-to-goodness Coca-Cola products.

Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have done a great job bringing their U.S. brands abroad. Why not try a little of the reverse? There's not much to lose because the products are already developed. Plus, a partner like 7-Eleven (NYSE:SE) with a recent flair for international foods might be interested in experimenting. Perhaps a low-carb sports drink such as Aquarius -- popular throughout Europe and Asia -- would find a warm reception in America as well. In order to find out, Coca-Cola will have to get back to some of the "intelligent risk taking" that former head Roberto Goizueta liked so much.

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Fool contributor Nathan Parmelee lives in Tokyo. Of the companies mentioned, Nathan owns shares in 7-Eleven only.