By Nick Manteris · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
Pepsi recently released Pepsi-Cola Throwback, a limited edition version of their signature flavor made with real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). They also released a Throwback version of Mountain Dew, but that product could not be located for review. Apparently, these drinks were made with real sugar at some point in the past, but then the soda makers switched to HFCS. The most puzzling aspect of this switch is that nobody seemed to notice when it happened…even though the taste difference between soft drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup and those made with sugar is completely noticeable.
The reason for the change was undoubtedly the fact that high-fructose corn syrup is cheaper than either of the two types of natural sugars (beet sugar or cane sugar) and, subsequently, it has been used in increasing amounts since it was introduced. HFCS eventually replaced natural sugar as the main sweetening ingredient for soft drinks in the mid-80s and there are studies that show an increase in obesity rates in the United States during that same time period. There is also evidence that suggests a link between HFCS and diabetes (or “diabeetus,” as Wilford Brimly says) and drinks sweetened with HFCS have also been found to contain more harmful carbonyl compounds, which are blamed for causing many diabetic complications.
Even though Pepsi used their logo from the 40s and 50s, the design of the bottle doesn’t really seem retro in any way because they modernized the old logo. The original press release had an awesomely retro 70s-style design that was much better, but for some reason they decided not to use it. (What is their target market anyway? Are they really going after the over-60 age bracket? Wouldn’t it make better sense to use the logo that people will actually remember seeing in the 70s and 80s? Doesn’t Pepsi pay people to think about scenarios like this? It’s like they’re designing the failure right into the product. But, I digress.)
You’re probably wondering what it tastes like, huh? Well, of course it tastes better than regular Pepsi …because it’s made with sugar. It’s that simple. You probably even knew that before you started reading, but a more appropriate thing to wonder is: why has PepsiCo been bamboozling us for so many years? Was it to line their pockets or just because they could? Or both? Their decision to try out an HFCS-free soda made with real sugars has to be a result of all the recent negativity towards high-fructose corn syrup because they clearly haven’t had the consumer’s taste buds in mind before now. Regardless of the reason, when soft drinks are made with real sugar the consumers win. Well, for a limited time, we do, anyway.
In the interest of full disclose I have to tell you that I generally prefer Coca-Cola to Pepsi, but Pepsi Throwback might be the best American cola out there (it’s already supposed to be unavailable) until Coke comes out with a sugar-sweetened version of their flagship syrup. Double Cola is another one of the better colas (good luck finding it) and RC Draft was pretty awesome before it was discontinued. But, I digress again.
Wouldn’t it be cool, though, if Pepsi were just testing the market before they shift back to real sugar and tastier sodas? It doesn’t hurt to dream.