May 18, 2013

Pepsi Next: Good for the right price

I know Saturday evening isn't the most conventional time to post a new food review -- or the most convenient one.

Most of you readers normally on the other side of the vast network of tubes known as the Internet are probably off doing your weekend things like movies, barbecues, baseball games or shopping. Some of you have already made your run to the grocery store for the week. That would make a late-breaking food review especially heartbreaking, as you won't be able to use it to decide whether to buy today's featured item.

Before you lash out at your computers in rage, remember one thing: This blog is free. And free makes everything better.

Next they should work on the taste.
Coincidentally, the merits of free wrap nicely into today's review. I'm writing about Pepsi Next, a bubbly cola drink I guzzled only because it was on offer for free.

That's right. Free. My grocery trip to Kroger yesterday ended with a surprise announcement that the powers that be in food distribution were giving customers free cans of Pepsi Next and bags of Doritos Locos Tacos chips. Which, to your cash-strapped critiquer, sounds like two separate food reviews for the price of none!

Yes, I'll have a review of the chips up shortly. Stay tuned. Today you'll just have to sip on the Pepsi.

Sip on it or chug it, for all I care. Get it down the hatch. It's not the worst thing I've ever tasted, but it's definitely not what I'd call an ideal soda experience.

See, Pepsi Next is supposed to be "a true cola experience with 60% less sugar," according to Pepsi's website. The missing sugar has been replaced by -- you guessed it -- fake sweeteners.

Sucralose is the sweetener of choice in this case. And mark my words, that's the last time I'll ever use "sucralose" and "of choice" in the same sentence. Sucralose flat out doesn't taste good.

It's OK at the beginning of a swallow but quickly leaves a nasty imitation aftertaste. Said aftertaste forces you to take another drink to cover it up, starting a cycle that's likely to have you consuming 60 percent more soda by the end of the day.

The aftertaste gets covered slightly in Pepsi Next, which still has a decent dose of real sugar. It doesn't get covered all the way, though. So here we have a drink that tastes bad and still has a fair number of calories. It's the worst of both worlds, if you will.

I'd rather have the full sugar content. Unless you're giving me a Pepsi Next for free, in which case I'll manage to drink one and enjoy it.

This beverage would be two sporks out of five if I had paid anything for it. It's lowest-possible cost gives it a little bump to three sporks, however.

So grab a can, as long as the price is right.

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