Most seasonal flavors stay in their section of the calendar.
Pumpkin spice and candy corn products show up during fall. Candy cane and egg nog products are around for Christmas. Carrot cake is a spring flavor. But salted caramel (and sea salt caramel) gets shoehorned into being a fall flavor, even though many brands have offered salted caramel products earlier in the year. What does salted caramel have to do with fall?
Maybe caramel’s brown color brings thoughts of fall leaves or turkey gravy. Maybe the salt represents the salty tears of sadness you’ll cry at your annual dysfunctional Thanksgiving dinner.
Whatever it is, Pepsi is also getting into the holiday spirit of releasing a salted caramel product in the fall with their latest flavor.
Salted Caramel Pepsi sounds like a unique flavor, but it’s not Pepsi’s first rodeo with a caramel-flavored cola. A decade ago, there was Diet Pepsi Jazz Caramel Cream. The flavor in it did a great job at hiding the Diet Pepsi-ness of the drink at chilled temperatures. But this new flavor, while it has artificial sweeteners, isn’t a diet soda thanks to the high fructose corn syrup.
Like Toucan Sam’s nose following the scent of Froot Loops or the noses on Carmen Miranda cosplayers, my nose detects a fruitiness with this soda. The aroma is familiar and I’ve been racking my brain over why that is. And its flavor doesn’t help either because it tastes like something I’ve had before. Is it from my childhood? Is it another limited edition Pepsi flavor? Did I experience it in another life? Another dimension? I don’t know.
But what I do know is Salted Caramel Pepsi has a flavor I enjoy. It’s fruity at first, which is odd, but the salt and artificial caramel hit my taste buds a bit later and lingers for a while. The saltiness enhances the flavor of the caramel, which I like, but at the same time, a salty soda might turn off some drinkers. I mean, it’s not like drinking ocean water, but sodas are sweet 99 percent of the time, so it might be strange for some.
Every year, I wait with bated breath for the return of Holiday Spice Pepsi, a seasonal cola variety I enjoyed over a decade ago. But every year I release that breath with a sigh because it doesn’t come back. I let out another sigh this year, but Salted Caramel Pepsi softened my annual disappointment. It’s a nice seasonal flavor, although unusual for a soda. But I’m attracted to unusual, like moths to a flame or Toucan Sam’s nose to a box of Froot Loops.
(Nutrition Facts – 20 oz. – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 105 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 20 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Not gross. Pleasant seasonal flavor. Lower sugar levels due to the sucralose and ace-k. Artificial sweeteners not too noticeable. If you know who Carmen Miranda is.
Cons: Might be too unusual for some. Might be too salty for some. It smells and tastes like something, but I can’t recall what it is. Not Holiday Spice Pepsi. Sighs.