REVIEW: Pepsi-Cola Soda Shop Black Cherry and Cream Soda Colas

Pepsi Cola Soda Shop Bottles

PepsiCo has introduced the Pepsi Soda Shop cola line with two limited edition flavors — Black Cherry and Cream Soda. Made with real sugar, Pepsi promises a modern take on some classics. Drug store soda shops have become harder and harder to find. Yet, the concept remains a touchstone in America thanks to pop culture icons like Grease. Will these sodas have me doing the jitterbug on the way to the store for more?

I pour out samples of each. The bottle describes these as colas, so I was expecting them to be standard cola-brown. I’m pleased when the cream soda is a light caramel color and the black cherry is tinted red.

Pepsi Cola Soda Shop Side by Side

I take a sip of the cream soda one and taste plenty of vanilla, though little cola flavor. There’s not much of a modern twist either. According to Pepsi, its soda has added agave for complexity, but I’m reminded of every other cream soda I’ve tasted. I sample again and perhaps detect a honeyed aspect to the sweetness. Then again, I mostly drink diet soda and could just as easily be tasting plain sugar.

On the other hand, there’s something immediately twisty about the black cherry. Its scent is like cough syrup. It has herbal notes, says Pepsi, which helps make sense of what I’m tasting. It reminds me of herbal craft colas I’ve had. Those colas have interesting flavors not seen in mass-market soft drinks and are bold about not being for everyone. This black cherry soda doesn’t have enough herbal notes to be as interesting as those, but has just enough to make it off-putting.

The one area that stands out with these sodas is the label design. It’s simple, comforting, and the classic Pepsi-Cola font is evocative of the era. It’s a shame the actual product doesn’t live up to it. I briefly considered getting a black leather jacket, slicking my hair back with pomade, and driving to the local drive-in movie theater to more fully embody the time. But no. The lesson here is that a cool design can’t make up for a mediocre product, not that I should buy a very, very cool leather jacket.

Good branding can’t save a mediocre product. The Cream Soda one is too mundane to set itself apart from similar soft drinks. The herbal twist with the Black Cherry is enough to make it unpalatable. Skip these sodas and seek out CVS or Walgreens instead. It won’t have a soda counter, but it’ll have plenty of other sodas worth drinking.

Purchased Price: $1.89 each
Size: 20 fl oz bottles
Purchased at: Piggly Wiggly
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 250 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 65 grams of sugar (including 65 grams added sugar), and 0 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Yoplait Go-Gurt Mystery Flavor

Yoplait has introduced a mystery flavor Go-Gurt. A staple of school lunches everywhere, I applaud Yoplait’s efforts to add some mystery and wonder for kids who bring home lunches. Why should kids who line up for the cafeteria’s Tuna Surprise be the only ones to question what they’re really eating?

Yogurt is so ubiquitous on supermarket shelves these days that younger readers may not know how much of a fringe food it once was. The only person who knew about it was your granola-eating aunt, who maybe smelled a bit weird. These days she’s busy brewing her own CBD-infused kombucha. It certainly wasn’t something kids would want to eat.

However, load it with sugar, artificial flavoring, and put it in a fun delivery mechanism, and kids will love it! And parents will think it’s a healthy treat. Which is all to say that Go-Gurt was an innovative product when it was first introduced.

I haven’t seen a tube of yogurt in my lunch since grade school, so I don’t know what to expect from this. The white color doesn’t aid me in guessing the mystery flavor, which is frustrating because I’m going to need all the help I can get. I squeeze some out onto a spoon and am surprised to see that there’s enough modified corn starch and gelatin to keep its tubular shape. I take a taste and ponder the mystery.

Mint cotton candy?

Gosh, I’m bad at this. It’s not a typical fruity flavor, so I’m at a loss for a few moments, then it hits me: bubblegum! My pack-a-week gum habit saves me! It’s odd to have a flavor so specific to one product in another, but I’m fairly sure of my guess. I’m also sure that it doesn’t work as a yogurt. There’s not enough tang to balance out the taste, so it seems flat.

These days the market is crowded with a multitude of yogurt options, from Greek to Icelandic to Bulgarian, and even kids varieties tend to claim they’re organic, or with less sugar, or naturally flavored, or something. I’m a bit confused but also impressed that the full sugar Franken-yogurt of my childhood has lasted this long. But then again, what is yogurt but milk persevering?

I tried the Strawberry flavor as well, which tasted more like the yogurt I remember. Go-Gurt is a solid product, but the bubblegum(?) flavor doesn’t work as a yogurt flavor.

Purchased Price: $3.96
Size: 32 oz box (16 tubes)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 tubes) 150 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, 18 grams of added sugar, and 6 gram of protein.

Click here to read our previous mystery flavor product reviews.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Peach Cobbler Pop-Tarts

Kellogg s Peach Cobbler Pop Tarts Box

What are Kellogg’s Peach Cobbler Pop-Tarts?

Kellogg’s has released several dessert-themed Pop-Tart flavors this summer: Banana Crème Pie, Lemon Crème Pie, and these Peach Cobbler ones. Can these convenient pastries capture the essence of their homemade counterparts, or do I still need to find a baker to trade their creations for my bad junk food takes?

How are they?

Kellogg s Peach Cobbler Pop Tarts Toasted

These appear as a typical frosted Pop-Tart, with light orange frosting and small tan dots representing cobbler topping. They’re the only hint that these are cobbler-flavored because, in reality, these are simply peach Pop-Tarts. Though, that doesn’t sound as interesting, does it?

Kellogg s Peach Cobbler Pop Tarts Filling

Unfortunately, the peach flavor is very artificial tasting. I’m reminded of Peach Crush soda and Peach Jolly Ranchers. I don’t really expect a Pop-Tart to taste like real fruit, but artificial peach can be one of those flavors that tastes nothing like the real thing, and it doesn’t work for something that’s supposed to taste like a real fruit cobbler.

Anything else you need to know?

The back packaging illustrates four ways to enjoy its contents, so I decided to give them each a try.

Straight from the Foil – Like melted peach ring candy poured into semi-baked pie crust.

Toasted – I wonder what percentage of Pop-Tarts are consumed toasted vs untoasted. Very few, I imagine. That’s a shame because I’ve always found them much improved by the process. A bit of browning adds the depth of flavor missing in the uncooked counterpart, which is particularly welcome here. It’s as close as we’re going to get to a golden brown and delicious cobbler topping.

Frozen – Freezing these adds an interesting textural experience. They don’t freeze solid, but get chewy. The peach filling turns gummy-like, and the cold numbs the artificial flavor.

Kellogg s Peach Cobbler Pop Tarts Sandwich

Stacked Stuffed – The packaging suggests “stacking” Pop-Tarts, which I take to mean to eat two at the same time. But that’s dumb. The obvious use case for two toaster pastries is to “stuff” them with something and make a Pop-Tart sandwich. Vanilla ice cream seemed the obvious choice for a cobbler-themed pastry, and I wasn’t disappointed. The creaminess rounds out the peach flavor. Plus, I mean…ice cream.

Conclusion:

Peach Cobbler Pop-tarts are too artificial tasting to be enjoyed straight out of the foil. But simply taking the time to toast them, or freeze them, or uhh… plop a hunk of ice cream on them yields a satisfying treat.

Purchased Price: $2.29
Size: 13.5 oz box/8 pastries
Purchased at: Woodman’s Markets
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (2 pastries) 380 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 340 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar including 27 grams added sugar, and 4 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Post Birthday Cake Pebbles Cereal

Post Birthday Cake Pebbles Box

What is Post Birthday Cake Pebbles?

Post Consumer Brands has released Birthday Cake Pebbles, a new version of the Flintstones’ favorite breakfast cereal in honor of its 50(million?)th birthday. Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles have stood the test of time, but will these live up to the legacy?

How is it?

Post Birthday Cake Pebbles Bowl

I pour the multi-colored flakes into my stoneware bowl and add a splash of whole milk. I’ve had many birthday-flavored snacks over the years, but I’m still not any closer to knowing what birthdays actually taste like.

Some are bright and lemony, some are a buttery vanilla, and others just have confetti sprinkles thrown on them. Classic Pebbles have a vivid fruity flavor, whereas this Birthday variant is more subdued. I’m reminded of the toasted flavor of Rice Krispies, though these are much sweeter and have that ineffable essence of birthday.

Post Birthday Cake Pebbles Spoon

With that said, they’re so easy to eat! The “Bliss Point” (look it up) of this cereal was perfectly calculated by food scientists because I couldn’t stop shoveling them into my mouth. My carefully measured suggested serving-sized 39-gram bowl was gone in about 30 seconds, and my second free pour serving didn’t last much longer.

One drawback of all the Pebbles family of cereals is that they get soggy almost immediately upon contact with milk, though these didn’t last long enough for that to be a problem.

Anything else you need to know?

I was one of those weird kids who liked “grown up” cereals, so I was more likely to have Basic 4 in my bowl than Fruity Pebbles. This has only gotten worse as I’ve grown older; I mostly eat Original Fiber One these days. And I like it. At this rate, I expect I’ll be eating literal pebbles during my old age for the mineral content.

Conclusion:

I normally don’t like super sweet sugar bomb cereals, so the slightly muted birthday cake flavor, while still being plenty sweet for kids, was perfect for my bran-eating self.

Purchased Price: $2.89
Size: 10 oz box
Purchased at: Woodman’s Market
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 1 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar including 15 grams of added sugars, and 2 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Dr Pepper Zero Sugar

Dr Pepper Zero Sugar Bottle

What is Dr Pepper Zero Sugar?

Keurig Dr Pepper has released a new sugar-free formulation of its iconic soft drink. Using a combination of aspartame and acesulfame potassium, Dr Pepper Zero Sugar is being described as an addition to the aspartame-only Diet Dr Pepper, rather than a replacement.

How is it?

Dr Pepper famously has 23 unique flavors, and you can find lists on the internet that purport to reveal them all. I don’t know how accurate these are (carrot, really?), but as a frequent Diet Dr Pepper drinker, I’m very familiar with what they create.

Dr Pepper Zero Sugar Closeup

I pour Dr Pepper Zero Sugar into a glass and take a sip. It tastes like the Diet Dr Pepper that I’m familiar with. Yet, I think a more direct comparison will be fruitful.

One result of spending way too much thinking about junk food is that I’ve realized how susceptible to marketing I am. I prefer Coca-Cola over Pepsi partially because of its comfortable, timeless-seeming aesthetic, as opposed to Pepsi’s aggressively cool Generation Next campaign from my childhood. I still think of a Subway sandwich as a healthy option.

Dr Pepper Zero Sugar Compare

I choose Diet Dr Pepper from the work vending machine because it tastes more like regular Dr Pepper. But does it, really? To test this, I grabbed the original, diet, and zero sugar versions to try them side-by-side. It’s a Dr Pepper Challenge, if you will.

I haven’t had a regular Dr Pepper or any full-sugar soda in years, so I taste it first to establish a baseline. It’s very similar to the Zero Sugar version, with a more syrupy consistency and more intense sweetness. I move onto the diet one and am surprised by the difference. The mouthfeel is thinner and the sweetness has a flatness with a slightly chemical flavor that I’ve never noticed before. It does not taste like regular Dr Pepper. This is very concerning to me. Are my opinions so subject to media influence? Am I captive to corporate forces larger than I can conceive? I resample Dr Pepper Zero Sugar to confirm that it tastes more like regular Dr Pepper, and am convinced that it more faithfully replicates the original.

Conclusion:

Dr Pepper Zero Sugar has opened my eyes to the truth. Diet Dr Pepper does not taste more like regular Dr Pepper, but this version does. Well played, Doctor, though you can still expect a malpractice lawsuit for all the quarters I’ve fed into the cafeteria soda machine.

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 2 Liter
Purchased at: Piggly Wiggly
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (12 fl oz) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 gram of protein.