Saturday, June 30, 2007

Soda jerk

Soda innovation has been slow lately. Although they’ve been releasing new sodas at fairly regular intervals, the “new” flavors have little to offer.

The prime example of this would probably be the new Coke Zero Cherry and Vanilla Flavors. Now I’ve purchased both of these a number of times and have enjoyed them, but are they really necessary? Can’t we handle Diet Coke in its variety of forms? Or why don’t they replace Diet Coke with Coke Zero? I can certainly taste the difference, but I’d be hard pressed to pick which I preferred over the other. If it would drop the price at all to mass produce one or the other I’d drop one without a second thought. I guess they want to avoid the whole New Coke fiasco.

Another prime example is the Pepsi Jazz series. Again, they have a Cherry AND Vanilla flavor that differs little from Diet Cherry Pepsi. The Strawberry is different at least, but isn’t terribly good. And then they release a third variety: Carmel. Who in the world has been writing Pepsi letters requesting a Carmel soda? Is it bad? No, it’s fine. But you buy it once for the novelty and then only ever think about it if there’s a ridiculous sale going on.

Coke Plus I think is a funny concept. Vitamins in my soda? What are they going to do next, put Fluorine in my drinking water? The product is decent (sensing a trend?) but I don’t think it will ever replace vitaminless Diet Coke. It has a slight aftertaste that is just enough to make me forego my daily intake of Folic acid. But as a ¼ doctor I wholeheartedly support pregnant women drinking Coke Plus.

I tried Pepsi Max last week. The story behind it is much more interesting than the soda itself. In 1993 Pepsi made a new formula for Diet Pepsi that tasted more like normal Pepsi. They wanted to release it in the US, but the FDA wouldn’t approve one of the sweeteners. So they released it in every other country in the world, where it has been one of their more popular drinks. Finally last month the FDA approved that final ingredient and they were able to start selling it here. With one change: they added 30% more caffeine (slightly more than Mountain Dew.) Predictably it tastes exactly like half a glass of Pepsi mixed with half a glass of Diet Pepsi. I did stay up the entire night after drinking 3 ounces of it, but I feel that is unrelated. Drinking the rest of the 2 liter has done nothing for me, either emotionalloy or in terms of my alertness.

Where’s the innovation Coke and Pepsi? The only new flavors that I’ve enjoyed this year were from Diet Rite and whoever makes Vault. They shouldn’t even be in the contest. Sure Pepsi Blue and Clear failed commercially, but I thought they were dang cool. And I’m the only person that blogs about soda so they should take notice.

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