REVIEW: Pepsi Pineapple (Japan)

Pepsi Pineapple  Japan

What is Pepsi Pineapple?

The newest Pepsi flavor in Japan, if you’re reading this in summer/fall 2019. If you’re reading this after that, it is a Pepsi flavor that will never come to the U.S. unless a PepsiCo bigwig reads this review and is moved by my words so much that he or she convinces the powers that be to sell a pineapple-flavored Pepsi in the U.S.

How is it?

It’s good enough that, if a bigwig at PepsiCo is reading this review, he or she should persuade everyone there to offer a pineapple Pepsi in the U.S. next summer.

Now I say it’s good enough, but it’s not “Oh, my God! Find your passports and fly to Japan to buy them all” good. It’s pleasant enough that, if you’re willing to spend roughly $10-$15 and wait 3-5 weeks for a bottle to be shipped to you from Japan via some of the slowest forms of parcel transportation, then I’d say spend the money and wait.

The fruity flavor at the beginning of every sip is a bit too faint for my liking. The cola prevents it from shining. But the tropical fruit pops mostly in the aftertaste, which is not ideal. But it’s prominent and better than having no pineapple flavor at all. It’s a sugary, somewhat natural pineapple flavor that kind of makes me forget about it being not so noticeable at the beginning of each sip.

Is there anything else you need to know?

As I’ve said many times on this blog and in conversation ice breakers, I wish Pepsi in the U.S. was creative with cola flavors. I know we had mango, berry, and lime varieties earlier this year, but two of those have been done before. The creativity Pepsi expends in new varieties is about the same as what Hollywood expends nowadays with all these reboots.

After typing that, I realize the possible bigwig at PepsiCo reading this might’ve been insulted.

Also, I could go for a lychee Pepsi, Japan. I’d spend good money and wait ten days for one. (Ten days being how long it takes for products shipped from Japan to end up on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean).

Conclusion:

Although I’m not entirely pleased with it, Pineapple Pepsi is one of the better Pepsi flavors I’ve had from Japan since I started spending money on obtaining them over a decade ago. Some U.S. Japanese grocers might bring this in, so if you happen to see it in one of those stores, I’d recommend picking it up.

Purchased Price: $12.99
Size: 490 ml
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (100 ml) 47kcal, 0 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, 11.7 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.03 grams of salt.

REVIEW: Salted Caramel Pepsi

Salted Caramel Pepsi

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.

REVIEW: Pepsi Fire

Pepsi Fire

You know what I think’s the big problem with Pepsi’s marketing? They’re too skittish to come out and tell us what they really want to call their products: non-alcoholic colas.

We’re actually seeing this more and more with Pepsi’s line-up of L-T-O products. The first wave of Pepsi 1893 sodas had a distinct gin-like taste, and the recently released Mountain Dew Spiked beverages are clearly meant to ape the alcopop-flavor of stuff like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice. While the newfangled Pepsi Fire soda may be advertised as a cinnamon-flavored cola, one swig of the stuff ought to remind you of an entirely different kind of beverage. Simply put – Pepsi Fire is VODKA-flavored cola.

It’s understandable why Pepsi refrained from marketing the beverage as a hard liquor imitator (obviously, parents groups probably wouldn’t be too keen on a cola manufacturer getting their kids accustom to the taste of high-alcohol-content fermented potato.) But the synthetic vodka taste is just too spot-on to be a coincidence. In an alternate reality, I can imagine the product being sold as Absolut Pepsi with an ad campaign heavily targeted towards millennial consumers – and selling like crazy despite all the media controversy.

Pepsi Fire 2

Alas, Pepsi went the “safe” route and stuck to its cinnamon cola marketing hook. The product isn’t new by any stretch – Pepsi has sold a cinnamon cola beverage with the very same name and almost identical packaging in Southeast Asia on-and-off again for at least two decades (sometimes, coupled with a spearmint-flavored counterpart called Pepsi Ice.)

Since cinnamon is a pretty polarizing flavor, naturally, your mileage will vary on the quality of the soda. While the cinnamon aroma is strong – if not overpowering – when you open the bottle, the actual cinnamon kick isn’t as tastebud-scorching as you’d expect. In fact, the aftertaste kinda’ feels like sipping on a cold glass of ginger ale while chewing some Big Red gum; you’re either going to find it appealing or disgusting, and there’s really no way to tell until you’ve given it a taste test for yourself.

Pepsi Fire 3

The hue of the cola is nice (it’s darker than standard Pepsi but not as atomically vibrant as Mountain Dew Code Red) and it has a nice sparkly, tingly mouthfeel. Oddly enough, it doesn’t taste anything at all like the short-lived Pepsi Holiday Spice, which despite being marketed as a cinnamon cola, had more of a dark cherry kick than anything else. I really can’t think of anything else out there to compare it to, not even Old City Soda’s cinnamon-flavored cola (which is noticeably sweeter and less spicy than Pepsi Fire.)

This is a hard one to score. Just for its uniqueness it’s probably worth a try, even if many drinkers may consider the overall flavor mildly off-putting. If you like cinnamon (or getting sloshed on martinis), I say pick up a 12-pack. But if you harbor a distaste for the spice, do you really need me to tell you stay far, far away from this beverage?

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bottle – 260 calories, 0 grams of fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of total carbohydrates, 69 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 63 milligrams of caffeine..)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 20 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Circle K
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: The cinnamon flavor is potent without being too intense. The medley of Pepsi and ginger ale is surprisingly decent. Taking that first swig and instantly recalling your first freshmen year kegger.
Cons: Unless you are a hardcore cinnamon connoisseur, it takes some time to get accustom to the taste. The packaging is really unimpressive. Trying to figure out why Pepsi thought it was a good idea to release a “hot” cola at the very beginning of summer.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Dragonfruit Pepsi X

Dragonfruit Pepsi X

I guess dragonfruit is the appropriate fruit flavor for The X Factor’s Limited Edition Pepsi X since almost everything that comes out of Simon Cowell’s mouth is verbal fire that can burn egos and Britney Spears is bat shit fruity.

Dragonfruit, or better known by Future Farmers of America members as hylocereus undatus, hylocereus costaricensis, or hylocereus megalanthus (depending on the color of the fruit’s skin and flesh), is grown in tropical areas, like this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean I live on.

Just like I’ve never seen an episode of The X Factor, I have yet to try dragonfruit. So seeing as how I could easily get the exotic fruit, I thought it was necessary to taste an actual dragonfruit before writing a review about the dragonfruit-flavored Pepsi X.

It’s a good thing there’s a farmer’s market down the street from me, but it’s a bad thing that dragonfruits were selling for $4.99 a pound. I bought the smallest one, which cost me $5.15.

If you’ve never seen a dragonfruit in real life or saw one when accidentally choosing a Google Image search suggestion for exotic fruits instead of, what you really wanted, exotic females, the most common type of the fruit (hylocereus undatu) has a pretty, pretty pink skin with green leaves protruding out of it and behind it there’s white flesh with tiny black seeds.

A few other interesting factoids about dragonfruits, there’s also a red-fleshed dragonfruit (hylocereus costaricensis) and if you eat too much of it you may get pseudohematuria, which is a harmless condition that turns your urine and feces reddish in color. Now that you know that, I hope you never accidentally choose a Google Image search suggestion for pseudohematuria. And knowing is half the battle.

Oh, speaking of pseudohematuria, the color of Pepsi X was noticeably lighter than regular Pepsi and it looked like it had a reddish hue.

Dragonfruit Pepsi X 2

Now that I know what dragonfruit tastes like, I can definitely say Limited Edition Dragonfruit Pepsi X doesn’t have a flavor that’s recognizable as dragonfruit. The dragonfruit’s flesh was mostly bland with a very mild sweetness. It’s as flavorful as cucumbers or kiwis. However, Pepsi X has a strong fruity and slightly floral flavor that doesn’t taste anything like dragonfruit. There’s also very little cola flavor.

Of course, I might’ve selected the wrong dragonfruit to taste and needed to buy the pseudohematuria-causing one. Or maybe, because it’s a little floral, Pepsi is trying to reproduce the flavor of dragonfruit flowers. Or maybe the flavor was developed by blending together dragon meat with fruits.

Dragonfruit Pepsi X 3

Whatever the case, I didn’t really care for Pepsi X. It’s interesting and not horrible, but I don’t see myself buying more because its unusual fruity/flowery flavor just doesn’t have The X Factor.

While I didn’t care for Pepsi X’s flavor, I LOVE that Pepsi did something I never thought they would do — release an unusual Pepsi flavor. A dragonfruit-flavored Pepsi is something I’d expect Pepsi in Japan to release, but it was released here in the U.S. That’s extremely exciting. So, within the past few months, Pepsi has launched a malt-flavored Mountain Dew and this dragonfruit-flavored Pepsi. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 35 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 30 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Dragonfruit Pepsi X
Purchased Price: $3.00*
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Not horrible. It’s a weird Pepsi flavor that sounds like it should be from Japan, but it’s not. Being able to buy dragonfruits down the street. Future Farmers of America.
Cons: Doesn’t taste like dragonfruit. Fruity/flowery flavor is a bit odd and doesn’t have The X Factor. Very little cola flavor. The price of dragonfruit. Pseudohematuria. Simon Cowell.

*To ensure I could review these as quickly as possible, I bought some off of eBay. It will most definitely be cheaper if you bought it in a store.

REVIEW: Pepsi Next Cherry Vanilla & Pepsi Next Paradise Mango

Cherry Vanilla Pepsi Next & Paradise Mango Pepsi Next

Crystal Pepsi must be jealous of the reduced sugar Pepsi Next. During its year of existence, Pepsi never released other Crystal Pepsi flavors. Diet Crystal Pepsi doesn’t count.

But the reduced calorie Pepsi Next has been around for just four months and it already has two new varieties — Cherry Vanilla and Paradise Mango.

I know that probably would make Crystal Pepsi so mad it would want to pop its top, but it would struggle to do so because, after 20 years, all its carbonation is gone. Well, at least there is some love for Crystal Pepsi, in the form of a disorganized effort to bring it back via numerous Facebook fan pages.

Cherry vanilla is a flavor we’ve seen before from Pepsi. Remember Pepsi Cherry Vanilla and Diet Pepsi Cherry Vanilla? You don’t? Well, the Internet does and so do I. Pepsi Next Cherry Vanilla smells more like Pepsi Vanilla than Pepsi Wild Cherry, but in my mouth the vanilla and cherry flavors are equally balanced. Because of that, it has a milder cherry flavor than Pepsi Wild Cherry. There’s a slight artificial sweetener aftertaste, but it’s far less harsh than Diet Pepsi.

As for Pepsi Next Paradise Mango, its aroma didn’t register as mango to my nose, instead it smelled more like apricots. Because of my past experiences with mango flavored beverages, I presumed this soda was going to have an extremely artificial mango flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case. I don’t know how the mad scientists at Pepsi did it, but they created a cola with a nearly authentic mango flavor. I say, “nearly” because its aftertaste is a bit artificial and the soda as a whole becomes a little more unnatural tasting the warmer it gets.

Now this is the part of the review where I bring up aspartame and high fructose corn syrup. Just like regular Pepsi Next, both of these flavors contain the sweeteners. If the comments in our original Pepsi Next review are any indication, people have strong negative opinions about them and they like to share those opinions with other people. For those of you who don’t want to look back through the 100+ comments, here’s what I vaguely remember the comment thread looked like.

Commenter #1: “Aspartame is evil!”

Commenter #2: “High fructose corn syrup is making everyone fat! It’s evil!”

Commenter #1: “No, aspartame is evil!”

Commenter #2: “No, HFCS is evil!”

Commenter #1: “ASPARTAME!”

Commenter #2: “HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!”

Commenter #1: “Oh my God, you’re so hot when you’re angry! Let’s make out!”

Commenter #2: “Okay!”

Commenter #1: “Mmmmm.”

Commenter #2: “Mmmmm.”

Commenter #1: “Oooh baby, you have a fine, tight aspartame.”

Yup, I believe the comments went something like that.

Pepsi Next Cherry Vanilla & Pepsi Next Paradise Mango are both really good. I want to say they’re a step above regular Pepsi Next, but that could be my taste buds talking who are slightly tired of Pepsi Next since I’ve been drinking a lot of it over the past few months. These two new Pepsi Next flavors should continue to make Crystal Pepsi jealous because they’re good enough to ensure the Pepsi Next line will exist longer than Crystal Pepsi did.

Disclosure: We received free Pepsi Next Cherry Vanilla & Pepsi Next Paradise Mango samples from the fine bubbly folks at Pepsi in order to do this review. They came in a nice plexiglass box with a beach scene at the bottom of it with real sand. To be honest, I don’t know what I’m going to do with the box.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 60 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepsi Next Cherry Vanilla & Pepsi Next Paradise Mango
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Received from the folks at Pepsi
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cherry Vanilla)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Paradise Mango)
Pros: If you enjoy Pepsi Next and your taste buds want more variety, these will do nicely. Less sugar than regular Pepsi. Equal balance of cherry and vanilla. Nearly authentic mango flavor. Going to be around longer than Crystal Pepsi.
Cons: 38 mg of caffeine per can. Slight artificial sweetener aftertaste. Too many bring back Crystal Pepsi Facebook fan pages. Mango flavor becomes a little unnatural as the soda gets warmer. Those who hate aspartame and/or HFCS will not like it.

REVIEW: Pepsi Kick (Mexico)

Pepsi Kick

Three rules about Mexico.

1. Don’t mess with Danny Trejo, he will eff you up. What? He’s American? ..from California?

2. The Volcano taco’s rule. Huh? That’s not Mexican? You’re kidding me? Not even the red shell part? (hangs head in shame).

3. Coolest thing ever from Mexico: Menudo’s “Like a Cannonball” (Spanish Language version is the ONLY version). Seriously??? They are from Puerto Rico? Really? Aw man I just suck.

Everyone knows the other cardinal rule but please indulge me as I amend it: do not drink the water, but drink the Pepsi Kick.

This product answers the question, “What would happen if Pepsi and Fruit Punch Kool-Aid had unprotected sticky wet sex and made a chubby cute drooly baby?” Meet Pepsi Kick and this variation is one of the tastiest shades I have gulped down in a long time. Even better, no calories and it is sugar free.

Now I know you are asking yourself, “Why the hell did you review something that is only available in Mexico?” Ah hah! I truly suspect that this soda is available in many of our friendly Hispanic markets in the states (friendly as long as you don’t point and giggle at the funny names for products like I do). Further evidence you ask?

The bottle I acquired has cross promotion with the NFL, specifically I bought a bottle that have the Jets and one with the Giants packaging. My understanding is that all thirty-two teams are represented which would lead me to believe that these were intended for the American market as well. I could do without the Jacksonville Jaguars version but everyone’s a critic in this day and age. Suck it Jacksonville!!!

Pepsi Kick CloseupI came across Pepsi Kick during a pause from drinking gin martinis and eating fish roe on water crackers. You see, our cruise ship stopped off in Cozumel. The first thing I did, besides glaring at the people hawking gaudy touristy tee-shirts and glass bottles pressed like a Panini (who buys that crap?), was to run toward the convenience store.

Next to hanging out on the pool lounge where endless pina colada’s are hefted, Valhalla to me during a cruise are the foreign convenience stores I encounter when we dock. I could not wait to see all the foreign products.

My goal was to buy some Mexican-only Lays potato chip flavors and bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola’s which are sweeter and necessary in making a killer Cuba Libre cocktail. Yes, yes…I know the irony of using a Mexican product to make a Cuban cocktail and all the dislike of the two. Sue me. I lived the Chinese-Japanese-Korean triangle of hate, so I understand. My parents still haven’t forgiven me for having our rehearsal dinner at a sushi restaurant. Marrying a white person still irks them.

So what gives Pepsi this kick? And why am I asking myself all these questions in this written article? Because I am off my meds and like Richard Bachman, my twinner demands attention.

Pepsi Kick LogoThis Pepsi has three unique qualities. First, it is loaded with caffeine. Second, it contains disgusting ginseng root. My grandparents used to punish me when I was a child by making me chew on some ginseng. I can still taste it to this day, a dull bitterness that got worse with each bite. Gah! I would rather eat a meal “two girls, one cup” style (Dated joke? Perhaps).

Third, Pepsi’s logo is a bit different (as seen in the picture). I heard that Pepsi has been phasing out their logo, so perhaps this is the new one. I could be wrong, I’m a Coke guy (not the hedge fund manager kind).

Ginseng. Caffeine. Energy drink right? Thus the “kick” label. Notwithstanding the gross ginseng, thank goodness the Pepsi didn’t taste like the horrible root at all. The flavor was definitely all cola, but it had a nice clean fruit punch flavor after each sip. I loved it so much. Me loves you Pepsi Kick!!! Furthermore, the cola wasn’t so sweet and void of any syrupy wash left in my mouth or throat.

The bottle is labeled with “Despierta” which I believe means “Awake.” Not sure if it jazzed me up or made me want to lift a giant novelty Energizer battery like Jacko did in those commercials (look them up, when I was a child Jacko was the man until he guest starred on “Knight Rider”) but the taste won me over. (Wow, really dated joke.)

I’m not sure if a drink is refreshing if you’re not thirsty and what drink isn’t if you are? I will say this…Pepsi Kick is worth hunting for. Forage for them when you hit your neighborhood Hispanic market or when in Mexico, pick up one or twelfty. You will not be disappointed. I was wriggling in anxiety, scared that the customs agents wouldn’t let me carry the few bottles I bought back on the ship. I was able to smuggle them onboard and I hummed Glenn Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues” in my head (another dated joke???).

Bottom line, buy it if you can find it and if you can find it, buy them all.

(Nutrition Facts – 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 30 mg of sodium per 200 ml serving (bottle is 500 ml), less than 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams if sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein)

Item: Pepsi Kick
Price: $1.00 (don’t ask me how much is that in pesos…I can barely add)
Size: 500 ml
Purchased at: At a no name Mexican convenience store in Cozumel
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The taste of a fruit punched cola that is balanced in sweetness. No calories or sugar which is rare for an energy drink. Menudo’s “Like A Cannonball” video. Hoping Jacksonville loses their team. Celebrity Cruise line. Indulgence.
Cons: May be difficult to find. Dated jokes. Two girls one cup video. Menudo the soup (ack!). My love/hate relationship with the Buffalo Bills. Cruise ship sushi. Ignorance.