Pepsi Throwback Actually a Step Forward

Pepsi Natural Pepsi Throwback Mountain Dew Throwback

Well, I’m glad somebody is bloody well listening to me. Somewhat. Even though it’s Pepsi and not Coke, although as I mentioned before–Coke waited too long and they got too expensive, so I broke my addiction with them. But anyway, Pepsi is launching three new drinks this month and next: Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback. The trick? They’re all sweetened with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. So…excellent.

Pepsi Natural reminds me of Red Bull Cola. Here’s its story: water, natural sugar, natural caramel extract, natural apple extract and kola nut extract. It hits first in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas and New York. I’d love to hear an opinion from somebody who grabs one of these.

By | 2017-09-24T23:05:08+00:00 March 8th, 2009|Headsup|42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. corblimey March 8, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Pepsi Natural does look like the Pepsi Raw that was released in the UK this time last year, and belive me the UK is not hogging it. I was working in one of the bars that first sold Raw and it was clear even from the Pepsi Raw promotion tour event that they held that it wasn’t going to be a great success. I don’t think I sold one bottle after that day and it was such a surplus that we were encouraged to drink instead of normal Pepsi it if we wanted a drink while working. I didn’t because it just didn’t taste nice. A year on I see it on sale ocasionally, but have never seen anyone drinking it and in my opinion it was a failure.

    Whether it will have a different recetion in the US I don’t know, but hope that this 8 week trial is an indication that Pepsi understand how ephemeral a reaction it will receive. I don’t see it catching on over the pond personally.

  2. Wings March 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

    While I prefer Coke over Pepsi, I will be giving these a try if I can find them. Great idea!

  3. Damien March 8, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Jones Cola has cane sugar, in a glass bottle, and I Love It.

    Something about those two things…

  4. Widge March 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Corblimey: The UK hogging it thing was a bit of a joke…I’m sure it’s not their fault they’ve got it exclusive. Anyway, my question is does it taste bad because of the sugar or because it’s Pepsi? Because I think Pepsi is just plain bad. Of course, I have to admit as well that calling a product you consume “Raw” doesn’t have the best connotation to it, if you think about it…

  5. Wes March 8, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Hey, I like my Pepsi! Even though it is tainted with the blood of Joan Collins. I’m certainly going to check these out though, thanks for the heads up Widge. Hope it plays in Peoria.

  6. Evil March 8, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Coke throwback would be illegal.

  7. RoxofSpazhouse March 9, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I don’t know why they don’t continue to have soda made of real sugar and not just for a short time. It works for Boylands and Jones.
    I do like the Pepsi.

  8. Maple March 9, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    I am led to believe that in Canada, while can’s may say high fructose sugar (corn), that most of the time the Coke made here gets it sugar from good ‘ol sugar beets, i.e., sucrose.

    Would like to see confirmation on this myself.

    Oh, and Mountain Dew has no caffeine in the Great White North, but we do have tarte au sucre (diabetes in a dish) and poutine (coronary on chips) to make up for that.

  9. Cary Dennis March 12, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I like Mt. Dew and look forward to trying the new Throwback product when/if it hits the shelves here in Arkansas (I won’t hold my breath for it to happen). Anyhow…Coke is still made with the Real Thing (sugar) in Mexico, and some smaller c-stores and Mexican food stores carry this “original Coke”. For you younger folks, the Coke Classic of today is NOT the original Coke of the early 80s and earlier. Coke fans like myself can taste the difference between sugar Cokes and Cokes with high-fructose corn syrup.

  10. Marie N March 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks for headz up…we live here in Portland and will be keeping a look out for the new line of products. I’m a Coke drinker but always willing to try something when it comes out. My son is a kidney patient on dialysis so he can only drink the Dew or Root Beer because cola products wreck havoc on your kidneys.

  11. Mark March 26, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    When Pepsi started sweetening (and I use that word lightly)with high fructose corn syrup I was able to finally conquer my addiction to the sweet, refreshing, sparkling drink that I loved since a child. Now that Pepsi Throwback is coming out, I am afraid that I will once again have to war against my base temptations and fight off re-addiction to this carmel colored liquid. Ugh. OK, I give up. You win.

  12. John April 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I bought some Pepsi Natural the other day and I’ll have to say that it tastes a lot like China Cola if you’ve had that. It does not taste like Pepsi. By the time you get to the halfway mark of the bottle, you’ll be thinking that you’re having some kind of sweetened tea. One of the ingredients is very astrigent. It was on sale the first day it was for sale at my local supermarket, but I’ll be holding out for some ‘throwback’…

  13. Widge April 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Thanks for the word, John. Still waiting for it to hit here locally.

  14. Covarr April 18, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    The key difference between Pepsi Natural and Pepsi Throwback is that Natural is made from ALL natural ingredients. Throwback, on the other hand, replaces the HFCS with sugar, but I’m pretty sure it leaves the rest of their recipe intact. I suspect that Throwback will taste better for it, but not be slightly less healthy.

  15. Maureen Higgins April 19, 2009 at 3:55 am

    I have asways thought the the whole New Coke then bring back the “Classic Coke” was their way of changing the Coke formula to use hfcs. When the Cassic came back it wasn’t the same as the old Coke formula and taste but it was better than New Coke and people were happy it was back. When I tasted my fist Mexican Coke I was in 7th Heaven, that’s the Coke I remembered. So did Coke plan that so called marketing fiasco on purpose to pull off the switch?

  16. Widge April 19, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Maureen: Check out this article from Snopes. It can help you with that question.

  17. Cleveland Chuck April 22, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Coca-Cola (and Cherry Coke!) in Cleveland is made from real sugar (sucrose). It’s quite tasty.

    I’ve also tried natural pepsi and it’s got a little cola bite which was neat. And right now I’m drinking Pepsi Throwback which I hope becomes real Pepsi when the promotion is done.

  18. Steelwill May 1, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    For a brief stint down here in Texas between March-April, my local HEB got their hands on some Coke made with sucrose (sugar). It was good, and apparently sold off the shelves. I am wondering though if it was a market test, because the bottle and packaging wasn’t labeled any differently, except for having a yellow cap as opposed to the normal red one. I wouldn’t have known there was sugar instead of HFCS if I hadn’t looked at the ingredients list on a lark. It was really good too. Has more bite to it than Coke with HFCS.

  19. Widge May 1, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Steelwill: What you had there was kosher Coke created for Passover. It happens every year–the yellow cap is the giveaway. You’d think that given how the kosher Coke sells like mad each year, Coke would take the hint and use my suggestion.

  20. Paul May 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    IMO Pepsi Natural sucked. I was highly disappointed. I found it while looking for Zevia at an Albertsons. It simply DOESN’T TASTE LIKE PEPSI. It’s at least three to five times more expensive than regular soda (like Coca Cola Blak), so while I think I could get used to the taste, I don’t think I would want to. I think it’s comparable to Cricket Cola, which is also expensive and requires an acquired taste.

    I simply could not find Pepsi Throwback anywhere (other than eBay, but I’m not willing to pay that much for a can of soda). I thought Pepsi was going to use the round 80’s logo but they went with the script label (similar to the Coca-Cola style) instead. So far I’ve tried: Albertsons, Ralphs, Stater Brothers, Trader Joe’s, fresh & easy, Gelson’s, 7-Eleven, am/pm, gas stations, liquor stores, Costco, Smart & Final, coffee shops and others. I haven’t had a chance to go to a Whole Foods store yet but I’ll try next weekend.

    The only major chain I found that carried Passover (Kosher) Coke was Ralphs. It wasn’t on sale when I bought it but it was well worth it. It’s now on sale (99 cents plus tax plus CRV) but I’m cutting back on my soda intake (especially those with HFCS, phosphoric acid, or benzoid acid). I’ll make exceptions for natural sodas that I haven’t tried yet (e.g., Zevia, Hansen’s, Virgin Cola) and those that I tried and liked (e.g., Red Bull Cola).

    Bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola can be easily found where I live (donut shops, gas stations, Costco, etc.). While it’s vastly superior than the HFCS Coke, it’s almost (but not quite) as good as Passover Coke, IMHO, which I’ve finally tasted for the first time ever last month.

    Interestingly enough, I only recently found out (and just noticed confirmation on a previous comment by Cleveland Chuck — April 22, 2009 @ 8:18 am) that in Cleveland and parts of Pennsylvania, Coca Cola bottlers still choose to make their Coke with sucrose instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Too bad I live in Los Angeles. Scratch that: it’s AWESOME to live in Los Angeles!!! (Except for the earthquakes and smog pollution.)

    One comment about Jones Sodas: I LOVE that they replaced HFCS on their entire non-diet soda lineup with sugar, but I HATE that they contain benzoic acid, a preservative. I used to drink a bottle or two now and then, but have since stopped drinking it altogether.

  21. Widge May 4, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Paul: Thanks for that fantastic comment. I would also recommend to you, if you haven’t tried it already, Fentimans Curiosity Cola.

  22. Paul May 4, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Widge: Thanks for the compliment and for the suggestion. I LOVE GUARANA!!! I shall go track one down :)

    I forgot to mention Reed’s “China Cola.” Trader Joe’s carries Reed’s “Extra Ginger Brew,” but not China Cola. I wonder what it tastes like.

  23. allen May 9, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Paul, i also live in los angeles but i haven’t been able to find pepsi throwback anywhere. If you find it, plz post where.

  24. Paul May 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    @Allen: I FINALLY FOUND IT! (Sorry for shouting in CAPS.) Found it at a RiteAid (along with Mountain Dew Throwback) in ice-cold 20 oz. bottles. I think it’s only now starting to get distributed, which is why we haven’t been able to find it earlier.

    Also saw on a Stater Bros. ad that all 12-pack Pepsi products are on sale (must buy four, though). It shows a picture of a Pepsi Throwback 12-pack, which leads me to believe that either Pepsi is rolling them out in volume so spread the word, or they’re already clearing the warehouses because of lackluster demand. It’s more likely the former because Pepsi Throwback tasted great! :)

    It goes down smooth, aftertaste is good, and it has a real Pepsi taste! It’s funny, because while I could taste the difference between regular Coke and Passover Coke–and what a difference it is!–it’s because I actually remember what sucrose-Coke tasted like. I don’t have that memory stored away with sucrose-Pepsi, so while Throwback tasted great (can’t quite describe it, but it actually tastes like Coca-Cola with Pepsi flavor, if that makes any sense) I don’t know true or close to the original it really is.

    @Widge: just noticed John’s comment (#13) about China Cola tasting like Pepsi Natural. I guess since I didn’t enjoy Pepsi Natural that much (which BTW is available in cases at Costco, at least in So. Cal.), I can stop looking for China Cola. Also, couldn’t find Fentimans Curiosity Cola, then noticed that it’s based in England and contains alcohol! I guess I’m no longer “curious” what it is that they put into them!

    A great soda I found at Bevmo was Cheerwine. It tastes like a mash between Dr. Pepper and Cherry Coke, but with much more emphasis on the cherry flavor. I highly recommend it!

    Also found Virgil’s Real Cola by Reed’s, which is sodium benzoate-free, and interestingly enough, caffeine-free but not phosphoric acid-free :( It tastes okay, though, but tastes like Royal Crown (RC) Cola so you’re not missing out on much (except the premium price).

  25. Widge May 14, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Paul: Thanks for checking back…Curiosity Cola has less than 0.5% alcohol so you don’t have to be “of age” to drink it. I don’t drink alcohol anymore and it’s fine with me.

  26. Diane May 24, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Keep the SUGAR! Pepsi is so much better with it! Quit the HFCS!

  27. Jodi May 29, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    You can’t get Pepsi Throwback within 50 miles of Urbana, IL. Why not?

  28. Widge May 29, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    No idea, Jodi. You can’t find it here anymore either, it’s sold out of everywhere I look.

  29. Melissa June 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Pepsi and Mtn Dew throwback is available in the chattanooga, tn area. Haven’t tried it yet.

  30. Cleveland Chuck June 8, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I love the Mountain Dew throwback. The Pepsi throwback is real good. So far I’ve only found 12 pack cans and 20 oz plastic bottles. In other news, my local grocer Giant Eagle sells their own sugar sweetened soda. They have cola, root beer, orange, cream soda and I think grape. Each one is pretty good.

  31. Don June 15, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    This is total BS.. ever since Throwback came out, I could not find it in the stores.. Finally was able to find a limited supply at one liquor store, but had to pay $1.69 per bottle.

    It pisses me off that Pepsi didnt distribute to all stores and if my position is real simple… If Pepsi Throwback is a permanent product, I will buy it.. if not, then Coke will get my business…

  32. George January 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I LOVE IT! I just bought a large bottle and will stock up on some cases. Please, Pepsi if you are listening, sell this product year round. A lot of folks will buy it! Thank-you.

  33. inthesticks January 15, 2010 at 12:07 am

    The local Dollar General store was selling both PEPSI and MT. DEW Throwback 12-packs last week. I bought (2) Dews and a Pepsi.

    It’s been such a long time since I’ve had a Pepsi or Coke product made with real sugar; the Pepsi was initially quite good. However, after about half a can, the taste now seemed a bit “off”. Of course, I am not a Pepsi drinker anyhow….it’s Coke for me. Anyway, the Mt. Dew was very good (I love Mt. Dew). The real sugar changes the taste of the soda, for sure. Drinking a can of this Mt. Dew Throwback brought back memories of drinking Mt. Dew as a kid in the 1970’s. Only bottles then…with the picture of the hillbilly, his hound, and the phrase “Mountain Dew. It’ll tickle yore innards!” Mt. Dew was sold as primarily a Southern regional drink back in the day.

  34. Cyberxion January 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    They’re clearly going to continue reintroducing it. It’s back on the market once again, just under a year after this article was posted, only this time it’s in cans that are more representative of the old design, just with the garish yellow “Throwback” label tossed on to remind us that we’re drinking Pepsi with real sugar for a “Limited Time Only”. I’m pretty sure that’s just meant to gauge consumer interest, and it’ll eventually hit store shelves permanently once PepsiCo realizes that there is a market for it.

    I don’t much like it, to be honest. It’s ironically less sweet than regular Pepsi, which despite your summation of the product, doesn’t actually taste like stale Coke by an stretch of the imagination. Putting personal preference aside, the two colas couldn’t possibly taste any less similar to one another. Pepsi at its worst doesn’t taste anything like Coke, but I digress. That relative lack of sweetness wouldn’t be too big a problem in and of itself, because while I enjoy it a great deal, sometimes Pepsi can sometimes be a bit too sweet. The problem is that I have noticed that Pepsi Throwback has a strange aftertaste to it. A co-worker that I gave a can to described the aftertaste to me as being vaguely reminiscent of bubble-gum, but whatever it tastes like, I don’t find it very appealing. The soda does taste better out of a 20 ounce bottle than it does from the can though, for some strange reason. Stick to bottles and you’re golden. Unfortunately, what that means for me is that I probably won’t be buying it too often. I tend to buy cans for work because it’s cheaper, and at a buck a pop, the bottles just aren’t cost effective. I might buy one when I’m out running errands, but beyond that, I don’t see myself doing much to help your crusade along. 

  35. Widge January 29, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Cyberxion: First of all, thanks for your comment. However, please keep your limitations on your own imagination, for I still contend that Pepsi is the equivalent of stale Coke. It might not to your taste buds, but it does to mine. And this isn’t my crusade, really, I just am a big fan of consumer choice. And making money off of that choice. And it’s not even something I’d choose anymore, having demonstrated to myself that apart from Pepsi Throwback vs. Pepsi, I can’t tell the difference.

  36. Cyberxion January 29, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Widge: First of all, thanks for your response. However, please do something about your attitude. You come off like something of a pompous dick, and considering that we’re discussing soda here, that’s a level of pathetic that I don’t think they’ve invented a word for yet.

    Listen, I know that people can be assholes on the internet, but we really need to get past the inclination we all seem to have to treat dissenting opinions as if they’re something to get all huffy about. I meant you no ill will. I simply disagreed with your opinion, being that to my tastes, Coke and Pepsi have two very unique taste profiles. If they didn’t, then it wouldn’t matter which one I drink. They do, and so it does. Now, rather than being a failing of my imagination that I don’t agree with you, if the two sodas are exactly the same by your estimation, then wouldn’t it actually speak to an active imagination that I think that they couldn’t possibly taste any different from one another?

    The issue for me isn’t even whether or not you like Pepsi. I have better things to do with my time than argue with some blogger who I don’t know from a pimple on my ass about soda preferences of all things. Yes I pretty-much said that your summation was wrong in a round-about way, and perhaps I shouldn’t have. Sometimes I find it hard to hold back my bemusement, and I really did find it mystifying that you seem to think that the two sodas taste similary to one another. I think you would have had a better case if you said that Pepsi tastes like RC Cola. My unimaginative taste-buds tell me that that would be a more accurate comparison than the one you made. At any rate, I do apologize for not tempering my bemusement, and for letting it lead me to question the integrity of your own, clearly superior taste-buds.

    As for my comment about your crusade, I didn’t say it wasn’t a worthwhile one. I just said that I won’t be joining in because I don’t buy a lot of bottled soda. Pepsi Throwback really only tastes good in the bottle, so I’m not going to be buying it often enough to make a difference. That’s all.

    On the off-chance that I post to your blog again in the future, I’d appreciate it if you gave me the benefit of the doubt. If anything I say looks contentious, ask me to clarify my intended meaning, rather than assuming I’m out to mess with you. You’ll save us all a headache that way. Now I know I was a dick this time out, but just like my bemusement, I sometimes have a hard time keeping it civil when I’m spoken to like a child for no good reason that I can see. ;)

  37. Widge January 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Okay, Cyberxion: First of all, thank you for two huge doses of unique content that the search engines will love. And if you think I’m being a pompous dick, you must not have been out on the net for long. Especially since, winky face or not, you come off like a total prick. I could give a rat’s ass whether or not you agree with me and at the end of the day–screw the end of the day, at the end of the minute–you’re right, it’s soda. I was just pointing out that it seemed a bit rude to tell somebody the limits of their imagination. I never said my taste buds were superior either. In fact, I will be the first person to tell you that I have abused my taste buds so much that YMMV when reading a review of anything I eat or drink. Now, all of that being said, what with me being a pompous dick and you being a wordy prick (with a pimply ass) and all, we’d probably get along just fine in the real world and I would probably end up buying you a drink. So there you have it.

  38. ChristianLinnell March 10, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Luckily here in New Zealand all our soft drinks are made with real sugar anyway.

    And we have Phoenix, which makes a honey sweetened cola. It’s incredible.

  39. Widge March 11, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Christian: That sounds fantastic, actually. Will have to figure out how I can lay hands upon some of that…

  40. Will Manghan July 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I’ve seen Pepsi Raw on the shelves over here in Blighty for a while now. The name doesn’t really help much and the description on the can must have been written by a script-writter from Twin Peaks! May actualy buy some to give it a go but Pepsis marketing of the product has been pretty none existant so far – about two years and I’ve seen a very none explanitory page in a magazine and that’s about it. Also we don’t have Mtn dew over here, but as a kid I drank it all the time, imported from the US by a US run shop (millitary base as my dad was in the forces) late eighties this was. I recently imported some myself and I still liked it but it didn’t seem the same. Has it changed much since say 1988 or is it just because I’m not ten anymore? I might add I’m more a coke guy but pepsi is much cheaper now. What ever happened to the coke wars? Did Pepsi surrender?

  41. Dude111 July 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I loved this FIRST RELEASE OF PEPSI THROWBACK,it was quite good!!!

    BUT THEY STUPIDLY CHANGED THE SUGAR USED IN ALL OTHER RUNS AND IT TASTED HORRIBLE!! (To me anyway.. others have stated the same)

    You would think they would not mess with success,its sad they did….. I GOT SOME OF THE NEW KIND IN DECEMBER 2009 and took ONE SIP and threw it out…… (Havent gotton any since)

    Quite sad………

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