Only One Can Survive: Syd Lexia vs. Pepsi Free
Over the years, many sodas have come and gone: Pepsi Light, OK Soda, Pepsi Blue, RC Edge, Pepsi Max, Pepsi XL, Surge, Citra, New Coke, Crystal Clear Pepsi, 7UP Gold, Teem, and Patio are just a few of the carbonated beverages that have failed. I don't expect to see Pepsi Holiday Spice come back next year but since Pepsi always maintained it was a limited edition soda and since they sold a decent amount of it before people realized it tasted like shit, it can't technically be considered a failure. I also haven't seen 7UP's dnL in a while, so I assume that's gone too. Out of all the soda companies out there, Pepsi has probably had the most failed sodas. There are two main reasons for this. First of all, Pepsi is one of the largest drink manufacturers in the world so they can afford to take risks. Secondly, Pepsi is the #2 soda company in the world, so they have to take risks if they want to be #1. Pepsi keeps hoping that they're finally going to come up with something that gives them that little extra bit of market share that will make them the top pop company. Meanwhile Coke just sits there bottling its soda and occasionally offering up a marginally different version of one of its classic products. You mean we can add LIME to Coke? Fuck yeah, let's do it! Pepsi also spends a lot more on advertising than Coke. I can't turn on the TV without seeing the Pepsi commercial with that fucking obnoxious Gwen Stefani song. I used to like No Doubt, but now all I can think of when I hear Gwen's voice is how much I'd like to hit her in the head with a crowbar. Of course, killing a celebrity is hard work, so afterwards I guess I'd quash my thirst with a cool, refreshing Pepsi. Dammit, Pepsi: even though your commercial sucked, I still bought your soft drink. Aside from the current wave of Coke with Lime commercials, the only Coca-Cola commercials that you really see these days are those Project Greenlight ones that are shown at the theater before the movie.
Other products don't fail, they just get replaced. In 1982, Pepsi introduced Pepsi Free and Sugar Free Pepsi Free, the latter of which became Diet Pepsi Free sometime in 1983. These products had the distinction of being the first caffeine-free colas on the market. In 1987, Pepsi Free became Caffeine-Free Pepsi, possibly to make it clearer exactly what the Pepsi was free from. These days, Pepsi Free has all but been forgotten. Aside from a brief but memorable reference in Back to the Future, it is like the drink never existed. I never had a chance to try Pepsi Free when it was being manufactured. This may have something to do with the fact that I was barely in grade school in 1987. For some reason, my parents didn't seem to care that the combination of sugar and caffeine found in most leading sodas made me obnoxiously hyperactive. Besides, my typical soda fix back then came in the form of the Coca-Cola that accompanied my weekly Happy Meal. I certainly never had the chance to try Diet Pepsi Free; my mom was incredibly paranoid and ill-informed about the contents of diet soda. I remember one summer I accidentally grabbed a Diet Pepsi out of the cooler at our block party and she proceeded to scream at me for two minutes about how it would rot my brain.
Perhaps all the Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi that I've drank over the last six years really has rotted my brain because I bought a bottle of Sugar Free Pepsi Free off of eBay and now I'm going to drink it. It's going to be me versus a 23-year-old bottle of a soda in a vicious battle where the last one standing wins. So... let's see if I die. Before I accidentally kill myself, here's some background information about the challengers.
The Soda: Sugar Free Pepsi Free
The Ingredients: carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, sodium saccharin, sodium citrate, citric acid & natural flavorings
The Warning: USE OF THIS PRODUCT MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH. THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS SACCHARIN WHICH HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO CAUSE CANCER IN LABORATORY ANIMALS.
As you may have noticed in the shots above, the bottle cap on my Sugar Free Pepsi Free was rusted to the point of being unreadable. I had to go digging around elsewhere to find this cap. The cap above is from sometime after 1983 when the name changed to Diet Pepsi Free. I had initially thought that perhaps the name change came with a change in artificial sweeteners. In 1983, saccharin was thought to be a carcinogen and Nutrasweet was quickly becoming the sweetener of the choice. Clearly this is not the case. From what I can see of my Sugar Free Pepsi Cap, it is nearly identical to the cap above save for two small differences. First, it says Sugar Free Pepsi Free instead of Diet Pepsi Free. Duh. Secondly, the saccharin warning is in blue on my cap. Enthralling, I know.
UPDATE: To see an actual Sugar Free Pepsi Free botte cap that's mostly readable, click here.
The Challenger: Syd Lexia
Ingredients: Blood and organs. I'm not a donor, so if I die during this, Little Timmy still isn't getting a new liver.
The History: I have been drinking soda for as long as I can remember. I switched from regular soda to diet soda sometime in 1999 when I realized that the caffeine hits me faster when it's not paired with a ridiculous amount of carbohydrates. I have always preferred Coke to Pepsi, but I buy whichever one is on sale. Sugar Free Pepsi Free is going to be a particularly tough opponent for me because I hate caffeine-free soda, especially DIET caffeine-free soda. With regular caffeine-free soda, you at least still get sugar but diet caffeine-free soda has absolutely no selling point. If you're drinking that shit, you might as well be drinking seltzer water.
So let's get this death march, I mean taste test, rolling. My 16 oz. bottle of Sugar Free Pepsi Free will be evaluated in three different tests: warm, cold, and with vodka.
Test 1: Warm
Result: By some miracle, it's not flat. It tastes.. odd. According to Dictionary.com, saccharin is defined as an artificial sweetener that has "a taste about 500 times sweeter than cane sugar". Maybe the years have not been kind to my Sugar Free Pepsi Free, but sweet is not the way I would describe it at all. As you probably learned in kindergarten, the four basic taste categories are sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. This tastes kinda bitter, but the only adjective that truly describes the taste is CHEMICAL. Some people find warm soda to be gross in general; I don't. The closer a substance is to room temperature, the faster it gets absorbed into your system. Since I drink soft drinks to get a caffeine buzz going, I'm a big fan of drinking it straight off the shelf. One thing in particular that I notice is Diet Pepsi Free lacks the aftertaste that newer diet sodas with aspartame (Nutrasweet) have. But whereas the current incarnations of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi taste good to me, this just tastes like ass. Maybe it'll be better cold.
Test 2: Cold
Result: Maybe it's just the anxiety of the unknown, but I am starting to feel a tightness in my chest. However, I certainly wouldn't be surprised if this ancient bottle of soda was already killing me. Like most drinks, this crap is much better cold. It still doesn't taste good, mind you, but it's definitely drinkable when there's ice involved.
Test 3: Sugar Free Pepsi Free and Vodka
Result: Vodka is really trendy right now. People are drinking it straight as well as mixing it with anything they can get their hands on. I think my favorite one of these concoctions is Red Bull Energy Drink and vodka. That's fucking brilliant, mixing uppers and downers. I'd like to shake the hand of whatever dumbass invented that. So, for my final test, I have mixed 2 parts Sugar Free Pepsi Free with 1 part Svedka Vodka, about 7 ounces in all. This probably won't end well... and it doesn't. When you combine old soda and cheap vodka, you get a drink that tastes a lot like stale mouthwash. I had to fucking fight to get this monstrous mix down. If I don't puke in the next 30 minutes, it will only be by the grace of God. Please Jesus, don't let me die. Take Little Timmy instead.
In conclusion, this is the worst idea that I have ever had. If you ever have the chance to buy a bottle of Sugar Free Pepsi Free for $4.99 plus shipping, DON'T. This is the most foul beverage that I have ever ingested. Damn you, Michael J. Fox, for piquing my interest in Pepsi Free. I have a feeling that Parkinson's is a fucking cakewalk compared to the irreparable damage that this drink has probably done to my stomach.
Epilogue: I experienced two hours of mild stomach discomfort after drinking the old soda, but that has now passed. I am still alive and healthy as ever. Fuck you, Pepsi Free. I WIN!!!
Posted by: Syd Lexia