REVIEW: Pepsi Next

Pepsi Next

Update: Pepsi recently reformulated Pepsi Next to not include aspartame. This review is about the original version with aspartame.

Pepsi Next contains a veritable who’s who of sweeteners. The latest addition to the Pepsi line includes the high fructose corn syrup in regular Pepsi, the aspartame in Diet Pepsi, the sucralose in Pepsi One, and the acesulfame potassium in Pepsi Max.

So if you’re someone who yells, “High fructose corn syrup is evil!” or “Aspertame is the Devil!” or “Sucralose will destroy mankind!” or “What the hell is acesulfame potassium?”, Pepsi Next is not for you.

The combining of these sweeteners into Pepsi Next makes it sound as if Dr. Frankenstein had a part in developing it by collecting ingredients from other Pepsi varieties to bring to life a new one.

Or, maybe, he tried to bring back from the dead a discontinued Pepsi, like Crystal Pepsi, Holiday Spice Pepsi, or Pepsi Blue.

(Sidenote: Dear Pepsi: Please bring back Crystal Pepsi, Holiday Spice Pepsi, and Pepsi Blue, even if it’s for a limited time. I would totally play 7 Minutes in Heaven with current PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi to make this happen. Heck, I would also play 7 Minutes in Heaven with her predecessor, Steven Reinemund to bring them back.)

So what happens when Pepsi combines four popular sweeteners in the processed food world into one beverage? According to Pepsi, we get a beverage with real cola taste and 60 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi. But could I see myself replacing my beloved Pepsi Max for Pepsi Next? Also, if it’s discontinued, would I be willing to play 7 Minutes in Heaven with whomever the PepsiCo CEO is a decade from now?

Although it contains three artificial sweeteners and has 60 percent fewer calories than regular Pepsi, it’s really hard to taste anything “diet” about Pepsi Next. But it’s not quite like regular Pepsi; it’s less syrupy and smoother. There are also differences in flavor between Pepsi Next and original Pepsi. I thought Pepsi Next had a slightly stronger cola flavor and, for some reason, my taste buds perceived a hint of lemon, which made me think my taste buds were broken, but a second opinion agreed with me.

Maybe it was my tongue hoping Pepsi brings back Pepsi Twist.

(Sidenote: Dear Pepsi: I don’t really miss Pepsi Twist, so I would not be willing to play 7 Minutes in Heaven with any PepsiCo executive to bring it back.)

Pepsi Chart

Overall, Pepsi Next is quite good. However, I don’t think it’ll replace my beloved Pepsi Max because my go-to soda has no sugar, more caffeine, and I prefer its flavor. I also don’t see it taking the place of Diet Pepsi as my backup go-to soda. Pepsi Next is slightly better tasting, but my taste buds have long gotten used to the flavor of Diet Pepsi, so I’m willing to sacrifice taste to drink something with no calories and sugar. I think many Diet Pepsi drinkers will probably feel the same.

So who is Pepsi Next for?

I think Pepsi Next mainly appeals to are those who want to cut back or stop drinking regular Pepsi because their doctors advised them to or they’re losing their hearing from all people yelling at them, “High fructose corn syrup is evil!” So if you’re one of those people, Pepsi Next could be the Nicorette Gum of Pepsi colas.

(Sidenote: Dear Pepsi: Pepsi Next is good, but if it’s discontinued, I won’t miss it. So the CEO of PepsiCo ten years from now is safe from the possibility of being subjected to seven awkward minutes with me in a closet.)

(Disclaimer: I received a free six-pack of Pepsi Next from the nice PR firm that represents Pepsi. It also came with a card that said I was one of the first 100 people in America to taste Pepsi Next, but I’m not sure that’s accurate since they’ve been testing it in limited locations over the past year or so.)

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can/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.)

Other Pepsi Next reviews:
Grub Grade
Fast Food Geek

Item: Pepsi Next
Price: FREE
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Received from nice PR folks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Quite good. 60 percent less sugar and calories. Smoother than other Pepsi varieties. Tastes more like regular Pepsi than Diet Pepsi. Playing 7 Minutes in Heaven to bring back discontinued Pepsi flavors. Pepsi Max. If you love consuming a bunch of artificial sweeteners at one time, you’ll love this.
Cons: Spending seven awkward minutes with me in a closet. If you hate sweeteners other than pure cane sugar, you won’t like it. Not really interested in bringing back Pepsi Twist.

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.

REVIEW: Pepsi Blue Hawaii

Last summer, Pepsi in Japan introduced the very limited edition Pepsi Ice Cucumber, which sold out in less than a month and helped Japan maintain their title of Country Most Likely Not To Use Focus Groups. This summer, they gave the finger to focus groups again and released the limited-edition, Japan-only, Pepsi Blue Hawaii.

The beverage is based on the Blue Hawaii cocktail, which is made of rum, pineapple juice, blue Curacao, sweet and sour mix, and sometimes vodka. Despite living in Hawaii and being of drinking age for the past decade, I have yet to consume a Blue Hawaii, because I’m allergic to cocktail umbrellas and drinks that make me look like a drunk sorority girl ready to flash her boobs when a video camera and Joe Francis come by.

The color of the Pepsi Blue Hawaii could best be described as Smurf-like, which makes sense since the idea of the Pepsi Blue Hawaii made me feel the same way I feel about the future Smurfs movie — it’s probably going to suck, but it has a certain allure to it that tickles my smurfs. After tasting it, I have to say that the Pepsi Blue Hawaii isn’t so smurftastic, but it is just a little smurfy.

The pineapple and lemon flavor combination was really smurfing sweet and artificial, especially the pineapple. I really didn’t enjoy it at first, but just like my experience with the Pepsi Ice Cucumber, I got used to its flavor and somewhat enjoyed it. I think its fruity flavor would make it a smurftastic mixer if you want to get totally smurfed off of something blue and can get your hands on some Pepsi Blue Hawaii.

I’m not sure what the smurf is so mutha smurfing appealing to my taste buds with the Pepsi Blue Hawaii, but for some smurfing reason, companies in Japan seem to know how to make smurfing products that sound and look unsmurfy, but in the end, turn out to be kind of smurfy. So I look forward to a new mutha smurfing flavor next summer from Pepsi in Japan. My money is on Pepsi Ice Carrot or Cherry Blossom Pepsi.

(Editor’s Note: TIB would like to thank reader Fury for sending a bottle of Pepsi Blue Hawaii from Japan, along with a bunch of other goodies to review. Domo arigato gozaimasu!)

Item: Pepsi Blue Hawaii
Price: FREE (only available in Japan)
Purchased at: Received from TIB reader Fury
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Just a little smurfy. Comes in a Smurf color. After a few sips, I got used to the flavor and somewhat enjoyed it. Might make a good mixer. Using focus groups. Getting my smurfs tickled.
Cons: Pineapple and lemon flavor was smurfing sweet and artificial. Didn’t like the flavor at first. Available only in Japan. Limited edition. Drinks that make me look like a drunk sorority girl. Cocktail umbrellas.

REVIEW: Pepsi Holiday Spice

Ye holiday season is here!

Woo hoo!

It’s time to get into the holiday spirit and I’m trying to get into the mood by drinking Pepsi Holiday Spice.

I NEED to have the holiday spirit, as I prepare for the crowded malls, last minute shopping, excessive Christmas decorations, the color red, tinsel, children crying on Santa’s lap, and numerous kiss rejections under the mistletoe.

I would’ve gotten eggnog, but no one is selling it yet. So until someone starts selling it, I’m stuck with Pepsi Holiday Spice to get me in the mood for some holiday “fun.”

I know liquor is quicker, but I’m afraid I might relive my 21st birthday drinking binge, which involved ten shots in one hour, followed by dancing with two girls, flashing body parts on my body that shouldn’t be flashed, and dry heaves.

So what does Pepsi Holiday Spice taste like?

It has a nice spicy cinnamon and ginger taste and it’s really good, but let me think of a better way to describe the taste.


Well go to your favorite store, whether it’s a local mom and pops or your gigantic mom and pops-destroying superstore, and look for a red soda bottle or can with the word Coke on it. Then purchase it or steal it, because there’s no way the old greeter at the superstore entrance will be able to tackle you. Then open it and when you drink it you will know what Pepsi Holiday Spice tastes like.

To make that unnecessarily long explanation paragraph short, Pepsi Holiday Spice tastes very similar to Coke.

If you’re a crazy Coke fanatic and you think what I just said is blasphemy, then go try it for yourself, YOU FRICKEN’ COKE-HEAD!

Wow. That last part was rude of me. I’m sorry.

Seems like I need more holiday spirit.

Well, I guess it’s a good thing I bought a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi Holiday Spice, because hopefully the more holiday spice I drink, the more holiday spirit I’ll have.

Item: Pepsi Holiday Spice
Purchase Price: $1.49 (2-liter bottle, on sale)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Very good. Nice spicy taste. A great holiday drink replacement until eggnog hits the stores. Tastes like Coke.
Cons: If you’re a crazy Coke fanatic, it tastes like Coke. Too bad it’s a limited edition. Might need a bit more holiday spirit in it.