Friday, June 19, 2009

Taking the Pepsi Challenge, Circa 2009

It all started when Los Angeles magazine's Chris Nichols -- located 20 floors below yours truly at the Variety Tower -- shot over an email about the new "Pepsi Throwback."

Chris knows I'm a fan of limited edition flavors and versions of popular foods and beverages. Pepsi Throwback is being promoted as a nod back to the time before high fructose corn syrup. (Strangely for Pepsi, the implication is that yep, back in the good ol' days, Pepsi was made with sugar -- and boy, was it better.)

He happened to pick up some on the road, having failed to see it so far on L.A. supermarket shelves. (Since we mostly shop at Trader Joe's, I haven't noticed if Pepsi Throwback is here.) It was time to sit down and decide once and for all: Is there a big difference, taste-wise, between sugared cola and high fructose corn syrup cola?

Pepsi Throwback is made of "sugar," according to the bottle. Not "cane sugar," but just "sugar." (Turns out it's a mix of beet sugar and cane sugar.) At least it wasn't high fructose corn syrup.

I dropped by the Los Angeles magazine offices with a regular can of Pepsi. So after inviting another one of Chris' colleagues -- who wanted to remain anonymous -- we went about the blind taste test.

It wasn't hard at all to figure out which was which. (Another person who happened to walk by also took the challenge -- and quickly guessed correct.)

The Pepsi Throwback was definitely a tad less sweet, and didn't contain as much of an aftertaste. But the regular Pepsi tasted more like... well, Pepsi.

The final verdict had me leaning toward the Pepsi Throwback, while Chris and his co-worker seemed to lean more toward regular Pepsi. I usually avoid Pepsi at all costs, but wouldn't mind trying Pepsi Throwback again. (Thanks to Chris -- and happy birthday too! -- for instigating this experiment.)

For a much more thorough review of Pepsi Throwback, check out BevReview's take.

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