Friday, October 12, 2007

A Diet Cherry Vanilla Pepsi Max Coke, anyone?

This month has seen the UK launch of 'Diet Coke Plus'. We get two healthy variants of the ridiculously popular diet drink, one with added vitamins and the other with added antioxidants. Both come in smaller than usual doses and both are quite nice in a "my tooth enamel might be eroding, but at least I won't catch colds so often" kind of way.

And who knew vitamins were so tasty? I am certain they have tinkered with the formula for the "plus vitamins" variant as the drink seems a little sweeter. [Vitamins taste of nothing, of course, although I won't be surprised if I find out they've changed the flavour so people believe there really are vitamins in it.]

The green tea flavoured "with antioxidant" version tastes a lot different to the original, with a much more bitter after-taste. It's quite nice, actually. It *tastes* healthier, therefore it must be, right?

Anyway, to celebrate the launch I thought I would do some investigating into the soft drinks markets around the world and the endless brand extensions that seem to be popping up all over the place. I also take a look at a few of the "classics" from yesteryear that, uhm... never really took off.

Crystal Pepsi (USA) - The disastrous American launch of this "healthy" clear Pepsi was back in 1992. Blindfolded taste testers couldn't tell the difference, but those with their eyes open succumbed to placebo effects and thought it tasted like old socks. It still has a cult following, though, with antique cans and bottles now fetching a fortune on eBay.

Pepsi Blue (USA) - If the "no colour" approach doesn't work then it stands to reason that a Pepsi stuffed to the brim with E numbers will be a huge hit, right? Wrong. A decade after Crystal Pepsi, it was time to launch this blue coloured, super sour raspberry flavoured "Berry Cola Fusion". The problem was it tasted like liquidised fizz-bombs. Buckets of cash were thrown at the marketing campaign to promote the launch but it still tanked big time, unfortunately.

Strawberry Pepsi / Tropical Pepsi (UK) - These cute limited editions were sold some time in the early 1990s. They came in half-size cans and tasted just as awful as you would imagine them to. They lasted one summer then disappeared forever.

Pepsi Holiday Spice (USA) - launched for Christmas 2004, this was a cinnamon flavoured, deep red coloured Pepsi. The "anti-eggnog" ad campaign had a neat jingle which went something like, "eggnog by the gallon, eggnog by the cup, tastes the same while going down, as it does coming up!"

Diet Pepsi Jazz Strawberries and Cream / Caramel Cream / Black Cherry French Vanilla (USA) - Wow, three creamy Diet Pepsi variants got simultaneously released earlier this year in America. Lately, everything seems to have gone "cherry vanilla" crazy over there. These are still in production, but for how long is anyone's guess.

Pepsi Ice Cucumber (Japan) - Believe it or not, this limited edition, light green coloured, cucumber flavoured Pepsi was launched exclusively in Japan this summer. Not kidding.

Diet Pepsi Max (USA) - Not to be confused with the UK's "Max Taste, No Sugar" Pepsi variant, this has just launched in the States as a quasi-energy drink (and Pepsi's answer to 'Diet Coke Plus') with added guarana and extra caffeine.

Pepsi Fire / Pepsi Ice (USA / Thailand / Singapore) - No, not an homage to the Torvill and Dean "ice spectacular", thankfully. 'Pepsi Fire' had an extra hot cinnamon taste, whilst 'Pepsi Ice' was a blue-coloured minty menthol flavour. Unsurprisingly, both bombed in the States. Well, you can't blame them for trying, at least.

Also look for:
Pepsi Red [Japan. Red coloured Pepsi.]
Pepsi Summer Mix [USA. Limited edition Tropical flavour for summer 2007.]
Pepsi Summer Chill [Poland. Apple and mint flavoured Pepsi variant.]
Pepsi Natural [New formulation, on its way, made with only natural ingredients.]

Diet Cherry Coke (USA) - note the position of the word Cherry. This is a diet version of 'Cherry Coke', which is much different to our cherry version of 'Diet Coke'. It's been around for over twenty years in the States.

Coca-Cola Cherry Zero (USA) - A 'Coke Zero' version of 'Cherry Coke' no less, launched exclusively in America earlier this year. Consumers - me included - are already lobbying to have it released in several other countries. So if any Coke people are reading this, I demand that you release this in the UK immediately!

Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla (USA) - This is what replaced 'Vanilla Coke' in America. Rather nice, if a little too sweet. Not content with three suffixes, the diet version added a prefix and became 'Diet Coke Black Cherry Vanilla'. Which makes me think people *must* have abbreviated it when asking for it at the grocery store. "Eh, I'll have a bottle of DCBCV, please."

Coca-Cola Vanilla (USA) - It's 'Vanilla Coke' reborn! A couple of years after its demise in the States, it's back with a new moniker and new packaging! They've even released 'Coca-Cola Vanilla Zero' to accompany it. Utter genius.

Coca-Cola Blāk (France) - Coke flavoured with what tastes like a hundred shots of espresso. Yuck.

Coca-Cola C2 (Japan / USA) - Half the carbs, half the sugar, half the calories of regular Coke, this was a (not very successful) experiment in the midst of the Atkins' diet craze. Now defunct and, frankly, redundant in the wake of 'Coke Zero'. Nice packaging though.

Coca-Cola with Raspberry (New Zealand) - Limited edition sold exclusively in New Zealand. There was also a diet version. Quite nice, although a small fortune when forced to import it.

Also look for:
Coca-Cola Citra [Mexico. Lemon and Lime flavoured Coke. Also introduced and discontinued twice in New Zealand.]
Coca-Cola Light Sango [France. Blood orange flavoured Diet Coke.]

dnL (USA) - Also known as "7up Upside Down" [the dnL is quite literally 7up turned on its arse] this was a freaky, green-coloured, caffeinated, clear-bottled version of the normally clear, not-caffeinated, green-bottled original. Groovy.

Fanta (Worldwide) - Remember the days when Fanta was Orange and that was it? Pah! There are now countless worldwide variants [The Japanese market alone has enjoyed over fifty flavours over the years]. The list includes Berry, Elderflower, Tangerine, Cream Soda, Strawberry, Orange Mint, Lactic White Grape, Honeydew Melon, Sour Cherry, Root Beer, Club Soda, Pear, Peach, Cider and Banana. A version in the far east also glowed in the dark.

Dr Pepper (Worldwide) - Dr Pepper has also had its fare share of variants over the years. The first was 'Dr Pepper Red Fusion' [red coloured, greater cherry flavour], followed by 'Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper' and its diet prefix-heavy counterpart 'Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper'. Most recently there's been 'Dr Pepper Berries and Cream' and yes, you guessed it, 'Diet Dr Pepper Berries and Cream'.

Sprite (Worldwide) - Look out for 'Sprite Remix' in three varieties - Tropical, Berryclear and Aruba Jam (USA). Fiery ginger and Icy mint versions have also been spotted around the world.



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