Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pepsi Throwback

Have you seen the "new" Pepsi Throwback? Basically, it's Pepsi from the '70s: In the old packaging but made with sugar.

It's...sublime. It doesn't leave a film in your mouth. It has a clean, refreshing taste. Swear to God, it actually bubbles nicer. The bubbles are sharper and more lively. I had this obsession a few years ago with trying to find soda that bubbled the way I remembered—and never could. (Returned a whole lot of fountain drinks as "flat".)

In the mid-'80s, the soda companies switched from sugar to high fructose corn syrup. One of the reasons given for this is that HFCS is "easier to transport". Curiously, the soda companies don't use HFCS anywhere else in the world. Just the US. In fact, one trick used by sugar soda fans is to buy sodas imported from Mexico (which I've heard CostCo has).

So if it's not transportation, why would soda companies use it? Well, the Federal Government subsidizes HFCS, making it slightly cheaper than sugar. The Federal Government also jacks up the price of sugar (to seven times the world price!), making sugar a lot more expensive.

It's probably too soon to blame HFCS for obesity, liver disease, diabetes and autism, but not to soon to blame it for screwing up the soda experience. And never to soon to blame the government for making it all economical.

We already eat quite a bit of corn: On the cob, loose, as chips and tortillas, corn bread, polenta, etc. To then HFCS in virtually every sweetened product on the market? Probably a bad idea.

Meanwhile, the Snapple Company is coming out with Dr. Pepper "Heritage"—the sugar-based version of Dr. Pepper.

And the corn folks are already in full blown PR mode. You've probably seen the HFCS commercials. And if you search for it on the web, the industry sites are there. The recent indications of mercury being found in it, probably doesn't help their image.

Having re-tasted the old sodas (and having drunk a lot of "gourmet" sodas over the years), I sure bet these guys don't want to go head-to-head with sugar.

Oh, by the way: Tomorrow is the last day for Pepsi (and Mountain Dew) Throwback. I'm gonna stock up.


  1. Sucrose is a dimer of one glucose and one fructose while the HFCS used is 55% fructose and 45% glucose, so I don't put a huge amount of stock in the nutritional superiority of one over the other. It is certainly possible that the bond between the two sugars in sucrose has some metabolic significance, though that bond is broken in the stomach due to acid hydrolysis--so this seems doubtful.

    IMO you are exactly correct about the taste and mouth feel differences between "real" sugar and HFCS. Tastes may vary but I absolutely like Coke and Dr Pepper when I can get them with sucrose.

    It stinks that all of us consumers have to suffer due to our government's sugar protectionism.

  2. I love sugar.

    With all my heart and soul.

  3. Sugar-sweetened soda tastes better than HCFS soda.

    I seldom drink soda, preferring beer, but when I buy soda it's usually at a Mexican grocery store. The imported soda is sweetened with sugar.

  4. Yes, Mexican Cokes are really, really good. I have only had them in the glass bottle, though, so I don't know how much that also effects the taste.

  5. I thought the best Coke came from Columbia?

  6. I was under the impression that one could always get sugar-soda during Passover.

  7. RAA-- You can get sugared sodas all year 'round, but you can't always get a sugar Coke/Pepsi/whatever. Dunno if they do a kosher run for passover or not. (And where I live and shop, you'd think I might've noticed....)

    Gave my last throwback to the neighbor kid.

    Startin' to jones....


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