REVIEW: Pepsi 1893 Original Cola

Pepsi 1893 Original Cola

Ah, good ol’ 1893. What a year.

Who could forget Grover Cleveland’s riveting inauguration speech? The first commemorative postage stamps were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. The most beloved Marx Brother, Gummo, entered the world. And it was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes.

While it could be argued the Supreme Court legally declaring the tomato a vegetable was the single biggest event of 1893, I would counter with the invention of Brad’s Drink. “Who’s Brad, and why should I care about his drink,” you ask? Why “Brad’s Drink” was the original name of one Pepsi Cola.

Now here we sit 123 years later with the release of Pepsi 1893. Brad would be proud.

1893 claims it’s a “bold” spin on an original cola, but I’m not sure “bold” was the best word to use. I was expecting to be hit with something completely foreign, but in reality it wasn’t that much different than what I’m used to.

In order to truly see what the hubbub was about, I picked up a 2016 Pepsi to compare.

Pepsi 1893 Original Cola 3

1893 looks and smells exactly the same, but it’s not as sweet as the current Pepsi formula.

It almost tasted a bit watered down, and like a mixed cocktail. Now I realize not everyone drinks alcohol, but if you’ve ever had a Jack and Coke Pepsi, I swear this tasted like a very weak version of that. It’s as if the bartender filled my glass to the brim with Pepsi, and then dropped a thimble worth of whiskey in. That said, I’m a Jack and Coke guy, so that actually worked for me.

If it interests you, I believe 1893 would make a really strong mixer. A “Jack and 1893” is a hipster drink if I’ve ever heard one.

Pepsi 1893 Original Cola 2

For the non-drinkers (Don’t drink, kids!) think of the “Real Sugar” Pepsi (1893 is made with Fair Trade Certified sugar). Now think about leaving a glass of it with a couple ice cubes on the counter for an hour. Now take a sip. The carbonation level here is not in the ballpark of what you’re used to, and it’s not a bad thing. I try not to drink soda too much these days, so every time I do, I get hit with what I call “bubble burn.” Regular Pepsi was like a shock to my system after drinking 1893.

I assume the slight taste difference is from the aromatic bitters and the natural kola nut extract, but I’m not gonna lie about knowing exactly what those taste like. I’ve never even seen a kola nut. Anyone who takes a sip of this and says “I can definitely taste the natural kola nut extract” is a try hard and you shouldn’t be their friend. Vin is your friend.

Beyond that, 1893’s can style is pretty deceptive looking. I imagine I’m not the only one who thought Pepsi may have gotten into the cola energy drink game. That being said, it’s a cool, sleek, “old school” style, and I dig it.

In the end, it’s just a slightly different Pepsi. If you’re looking for a huge difference, you’re not gonna get it. If someone three-card Monte’d 1893, Real Sugar Pepsi, and regular Pepsi and asked which was the “original” recipe, you’d pick 1893 without flinching, but that’s not a knock. This is a solid spinoff.

We also reviewed 1893 Ginger Cola! Click here to read our review.

(Nutrition Facts – 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 39 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: 12 fl oz. can
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Sleek Retro Can. Not as sweet. Less bubble burn. Cola with a K. No high fructose corn syrup. Wikipedia. Learning about the year 1893. Gummo love. Vin as a friend.
Cons: Not a massive difference. Tastes like a weak cocktail. Rutherford B. Dead. No one’s ever asked for a “Jack and Pepsi.” Tomato is a fruit!

70 thoughts on “REVIEW: Pepsi 1893 Original Cola

        1. I’ve had both Mexican Coke and Mexican Pepsi in Mexico and here in the states. I did not like the Mexican Pepsi as much as to me it seemed more sweet and the older I get the less I like that. The 1893 is deemed less sweet, so I will get some this weekend and try it. I think I may like it.

  1. I can definitely taste the natural kola nut extract. Lol! Just kidding but I had to say it 🙂 The way you turn a phrase is quite amusing and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this product! Thank you for being our friend Vin! (Now I sound like the Golden Girls theme song!)

  2. I’ve had 2 cans so far, and it is quite delightful. I’m going to try keeping a look-out for the Ginger one, have high hopes for it too.

  3. 1893 was also the year the Navy established the rank of Chief Petty Officer. As a retired Chief Logistics Specialist, I will be looking for this to add to my Navy collection of CPO related items.

  4. I remember when Pepsi and mountain dew ingredients included real sugar, before they switched to high fructose corn syrup as the sweetener in the early 90’s. There is a real taste difference and the 1893 doesn’t stick to your teeth like regular Pepsi does. The 1893 is a familiar taste from when I was a kid. Although the touch of bitters does alter it just a little bit. I’m just happy Pepsi is giving it’s customers an option to stay away from the HFCS and it’s tasteless sweetness. I will continue to buy the 1893 as long as it’s available.

  5. I’ll get to this. I try not to drink the fructose Pepsi. I but the Throwback Real Sugar stuff and keep a case or two around. There is an intensity to that blend. I like the bubbles the way they are. We will see…

    1. I was confused by this as well. I read an article on another site that the aim was to mix with alcohol and appear like a craft or artisan item, not retro. They should have named it something else.

    1. I’m sure they’d taste pretty bad, but you could probably sell them to collectors. Unopened bottles are much more desirable. I’m not a collector, but I had a friend who was, and he was always on the lookout for unopened bottles of soft drinks. He even had a sandwich shop with a whole wall full of drinks from all over the world. If you have the original six-pack it’s worth even more…

    2. It’s a stretch, but if for some odd reason the gas has not dissipated and you are left with syrup give it a try–open and smell. It’s just old sugar water with some caramel over tones. Not sure about bacteria. Good luck
      I would just save ’em but not drink ’em.

  6. Just bought the first 12 pack I could find. The kola nut provides good long lasting energy and the malt flavor doesn’t burn like the coke I was buying in the bottles I think 1893 should be offered in bottles to be authentic but the can is pretty cool too. The bitters give you the old school health benefits real sugar is still the best!

  7. Neil Edward, the below is a direct quote from the above advertisement. After reading this is it so “stupid” to think the shit might have alcohol in it? A simple “No” would have sufficed.

    “It almost tasted a bit watered down, and like a mixed cocktail. Now I realize not everyone drinks alcohol, but if you’ve ever had a Jack and Coke Pepsi, I swear this tasted like a very weak version of that. It’s as if the bartender filled my glass to the brim with Pepsi, and then dropped a thimble worth of whiskey in. That said, I’m a Jack and Coke guy, so that actually worked for me.”

    1. Good reply. I have been trying really hard not to be just like Neil- to neil (an extremely rude individual). I’m glad someone else replied to him.

  8. I’m disappointed—especially after trying 1893 Ginger, which not only tastes pretty good, but tastes different enough from both cola and ginger ale to be interesting. 1893 Original tastes almost like slightly flat real-sugar Pepsi. The hint of bitters is enough to make it possible to distinguish them, but not enough to really affect the experience.

    Once I realized that, I added an extra dash of Angostura bitters, and it gets a whole lot better.

    Then I did the same with (real-sugar) Pepsi and Coke, and… the Coke wins, hands down. So, I’ll probably never buy 1893 again, but I have Pepsi to thank for making me think of adding bitters to Coke.

    By the way, the bitters may be why you’re thinking of Jack Daniels. In many other parts of the world, bitters usually go in citrusy cocktails or soft drinks (I wonder whether someone from Peru, Czechia, or New Zealand would think of citrus when trying 1893?). But in America, they’re heavily associated with whiskey drinks like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned.

  9. I looked up “kola nut” so if a person is from a west African country, they may know what a kola nut tastes like. I also read that kola nut extract is currently used when making cola drinks.

    It will be fun to try 1893 Original, and less carbonation sounds like a bonus to me.

  10. Terrible bought 2 cans to share with some friends….horrible unless u like ultra diet …. its got an aspertaine after taste and taste like a cheap diet cola u can keep this and go back to the drawing board .me and my friends will never buy this 2 dollar a can drink again.

  11. Kola and Ginger are flat as can be, like it was left out in the warehouse for 30 days before selling it so all the carbonation could dissipate. The darn stuff has 40 grams of sugar per can – that’s almost 7 teaspoons of sugar in a 12 oz can. Sugar is sugar and this is ridiculous. I paid $1.79 for each in a Maverick’s store in Salt Lake City, Utah but won’t be buying them again. UGH!

  12. Why dont they just bring Pepsi light back and tab? Pepsi max and coke zero marketed for testosterone driven looks… Now give 1 back to the girls! It’s all rather stupid really….

  13. PS–still waiting for 24oz cans to be just a regular thing…. Beer & tea does it and we all know neither of them taste any better ‘warm’ or ‘flat’ – let the drinker decide how fast to chug!

  14. Bought a can of the Kola tonight. I wasn’t impressed. It reminded me of Chek Cola or Sam’s Cola flavor wise. It was rather less carbonated than traditional soft drinks. Would this make a good mixer? Not in my opinion. Part of the reason for mixing a kola soda with rum or whiskey is that the sharp flavors of the soda compliment the liquor.

  15. Just tried this today. Had an aftertaste like Splenda but chalked it up to the aromatic bitters. “Bubble burn”….? Probably thinks ketchup is also spicy, and a Dutch Brother’s ‘Americano’ is fresh-brewed coffee. I’ll stick to Pepsi with Cane sugar.

  16. I have to admit that 1893 reminded me of an “old fashion’ the first time I had one. I’m hooked on it and I hope that Pepsi continues to make it. If not, I will add bitters to my colas from now on.

  17. This site is simply FANTASTIC! I always wanted to start a blog about food reviewand everytime I look online and I see all those products in Italy we don’t have I woulk like to place an order of 2000$ ancd buy everything. If only I had this Pepsi 1893…

  18. This product is pathetic! If the research department cannot produce something even mildly innovative, why mess-up an old and reliable product? This product tastes like a watered down version of the “new coke”, that some idiot at coke tried to market about 20 years ago. Little taste, and no bite from fizz, is not a cola. Mexican coke is still the best cola product on the market, with coke zero being reasonably acceptable. Get rid of all corn syrup, market Mexican coke for the excellent product it is, and learn to leave well enough alone!

  19. Sometimes when I am sitting home, and kids are alseep, I sneak downstairs to the small college fridge I hide behind the boxes with shirts I don’t fit into anymore but keep because I truly believe that I will one day either sell them for a million bucks or fit into them and be retro cool, and I grab a Pepsi with real sugar and pour it in a old fashioned glass with my titanic and iceberg shaped ice cubes and watch 24 year old reruns of the channel 4 news. So when I saw there was a new Pepsi out with real sugar, I ran (ran, being an expression, since the fact that I still don’t fit into those shirts in front of the college fridge yet, means I have not run anywhere in years) to every store I knew that may carry this new dream for me. Alas, I could not find it anywhere. So, another day I am sitting in my cube, depressed about 100 other things, I decide to go up to the cafeteria in the building because the menu says they have country friend steak as the entree, they didn’t, so I got the obligatory bag of cheetos, and on my way to pay the cashier who charges you a nickel each for any extra plastic utensil you may have inadvertently grabbed I see the elusive 1893. Like I was doing something wrong, I grabbed 4 cans, 2 KOLAs and 2 GINGERS, and I rushed, or moved as fast as a middle aged man with a bag of cheetos and 4 cans of soda can, (NOT SODA CAN, but soda, can), to my cube. At this point my day is shot, I have to wait 4 hours before I can leave here and place my new found bounty in the elusive shirt hidden fridge and then wait another 4 hours until the kids are out cold from the Nyquil I accidently dropped in their home made swanson potpies.

  20. I doubt they had genetically modified ingredients in 1893….and caramel color…come on….. why bother with kola nut extract if ur gonna put caramel color????? geez pepsi… u suck.

    1. i thought this was going to be my new go-to cola. but after seeing that the can states “partially produced with genetic engineering”, i decided to toss it. F U pepsi.

  21. I feel that this is another example that says branding is not representative of reality and anyone who thinks so is a fool. The reality is that this is flavored sugar water and it’s a different style of flavored sugar water so it can be priced higher and the label is Crafty so you’ll think it’s cool and buy more. That’s it!

  22. As a devoted Mexican Coke addict, I saw this in the store and had to give it a try. If anyone doubts it is “different” then you should have your taste buds take a break from the caffeine and nicotine for a while. It is delightfully different. No question it tastes more like COLA then anything on the mass market.
    The best part is the lower carbonation level which I feel gives your taste buds more to “taste” than the bubble burn you get from most carbonated sodas.
    If Pepsi wants to give this a serious “go” then it should be offered in dark glass bottles to protect it from going bad.
    Now…bring the cost down so people can stop harassing the “craft” soda moniker.

  23. I bought a can at Walmart the other night after a friend recommended it to me. I drank about half the can. it was ‘alright’. Later when I got home I read the ingredients and learned that if you read down past the phrase “trademarks of PepsiCo Inc” on the side bottom of the can, it says these words in all caps “PARTIALLY PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING”.

    That bothered me. I hope it does you.

  24. Pepsi, Please don’t take 1893 off the market. I have been scouring the stores in the DC area only to find this at a local grocer. I am usually a Coke drinker, but 1893 has converted me. I am stocking up in case it disappears.

  25. Pepsi, Please do not take this off the market! This is good. I absolutely would drink this over Coke or anything else. I have been scouring Walmarts in Virginia looking for this only to find it at a local grocer in PA.

    If anyone is looking for it, Giant Eagle has this stocked in their gas stations.

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