Friday, April 13, 2012
Pepsi's new soda for 2012 -- Pepsi Next -- actually makes me feel like I'm time traveling back to roughly 2004; way back in the earlyish days of the turn of the century. (And now I am making us all feel old...sorry.) Back then both Pepsi and Coke debuted products that were not quite "diet" colas, yet not quite full calorie colas either. Remember those? Their lack of specific gender, if you will, made them strangely androgynous and hermaphroditic in a way -- kind of like what Justin Bieber would be if he were a beverage.
Well, the Pepsi Edge of yesteryear has evolved to become this decade's Pepsi Next. Pepsi Edge had 70 calories per can (or 12 ounces). and was sweetened with a blend of high fructose corn syrup and Sucralose. Its "benefit" was that it was supposed to taste more like regular Pepsi while not having all of the calories and carbs of the regular version. Pepsi Edge was discontinued in 2005 (as was Coke's competing soda, C2 -- and later that year both Pepsi Max and Coke Zero were launched, and are still going strong today). Apparently, sales were sluggish, and the most common comment I remember hearing at the time was "If I wanted a diet soda I would just drink one."
Anyway, here we are in 2012 with Pepsi Next. It has 60 calories per can (or 12 ounces) and has what could be a boy band worth of sweeteners -- four total. HFCS, Sucralose, Aspartame & acesulfame potassium are all combined in the hopes of making it taste more like a full calorie soda, but with less calories and carbs.
At least as far as the numbers go, it succeeds. A 12 ounce serving of regular Pepsi has 150 calories and 41 grams of carbs. The issue is -- how many people will this really appeal to? I am admittedly a diet soda drinker (and when I drink regular Pepsi, it is the Pepsi Throwback...sooo worth the calories!), so I don't mind the flavor of diet sodas. But I have noticed that my friends who only drink "regular" tend to dislike the artificial flavor that sweeteners give. If it gets past the "why?" factor, it will of course be the taste that makes or breaks it.
So how does Pepsi Next taste?
It does seem to have a cola taste that is closer to regular Pepsi than Diet Pepsi. (I haven't had Pepsi Max in so long I can't remember it sizes up). There is also a distinct lemony note, even though no such thing is listed on the label. It's more noticeable than that of Pepsi/Diet Pepsi as a rule, but not as strong a lemon as Pepsi Twist had. (And where can I sign a petition to bring that back?!) On one hand, I like the idea of a lemony cola. What I don't like here is that the lemon note is pleasant at first, and then dissolves into a nasty chemical aftertaste.
The carbonation is also dialed down. (It does make an impressive head when poured into a glass, but that head collapses in literally three seconds.) I know a lot of people will like that, because it makes it easier to guzzle without thunderous elephantine belching like I imagine Kim Kardashian does when the cameras are turned off. (Cease and Desist letter in 3...2...1...) For me this is neither a breaking nor a selling point. It's not a bad soda; it just doesn't rock my world. I could be wrong, but I'll give this a year, tops, on the shelf. I just don't see there being enough of a market for a half-cal option. Personally, I would rather just have a smaller portion of Pepsi Throwback.
Be sure to check out these reviews from The Impulsive Buy and Grub Grade.
PURCHASED FROM: CVS
CALORIES: 100 calories per 20 ounce bottle.
ADDITIONAL INFO: Contains phenylalanine.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: pepsiusa.com