REVIEW: Dr Pepper & Cream Soda

Dr Pepper  Cream Soda

What is Dr Pepper & Cream Soda?

Peanut butter and jelly. Ham and cheese. An entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s and the ensuing, all-encompassing feeling of shame. Some things naturally go together, and now two carbonated icons, Dr Pepper and cream soda, aim to count themselves among famous pairs.

How is it?

With its dark cola color, Dr Pepper & Cream Soda looks like regular Dr Pepper, but its scent carries a strong vanilla vibe.

The cream soda taste – a creamy vanilla that conjures memories of sundaes and floats – is immediately noticeable at first sip. With subsequent sips, Dr Pepper’s 23 flavors come back to the forefront, with the cream soda lingering in the background. The flavor combination is definitely a pleasant and harmonious one. I would guess at a 2:1 ratio of Dr Pepper to cream soda.

Dr Pepper  Cream Soda Closeup

As a result of the pairing, the “spicy bite” that the original Dr Pepper is known for becomes muted, but because of the way the flavors take turns in the foreground, it is always clear that this is a Dr Pepper product. Interestingly, more so than its other flavor combinations like Cherry Vanilla, Dr Pepper & Cream Soda manages to achieve a smooth “cream finish” feeling characteristic of cream soda.

Although I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a purist, I tend to prefer the original Dr Pepper to any of its flavored incarnations. However, I was really impressed at how well Dr Pepper & Cream Soda recreates the subtle flavor of cream soda without letting it get lost among the bolder flavors of Dr Pepper. I would drink this one again.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Due to its varying colors and flavors (including everything from raspberry to cotton candy), cream soda can mean different things to different regions. To me, Dr Pepper & Cream Soda’s flavor profile most closely resembles A&W Cream Soda, which makes sense considering the same company owns them.

Conclusion:

Dr Pepper & Cream Soda expertly recreates and balances a sweet, creamy vanilla flavor with its original formula. It made me wonder what other delicious, unexpected soda combinations are waiting to be discovered.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 6 pack of 20-ounce bottles
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 20 oz.) 210 calories, 0 grams of fat, 80 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 55 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Fanta Piña Colada

Fanta Pina Colada

What is Fanta Piña Colada?

Fanta adds a new flavor to its extensive collection of fruit sodas: a combination of pineapple and coconut inspired by the tropical cocktail.

I found this one at Country Fair, a regional convenience store and gas station chain native to northwestern Pennsylvania. According to some guy on Yelp, Country Fair is known for its kind employees and suspect pickled eggs.

How is it?

Before we begin, let’s all make a pact not to mention that famous song in which a certain tropical cocktail is mentioned alongside surprising circumstances of inclement weather. That tune has been running through my head on a continuous loop for the past 24 hours, and I would appreciate your cooperation as I regain full control of my brain.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled review.

Fanta Pina Colada Outdoors

Among its rainbow of products, Fanta Piña Colada is an opaque white color and smells of faintly of coconut. The first taste is a mellow pineapple flavor that is all sweetness with very few notes of acid. The artificial flavor reminds me of the pineapple Lifesaver from the original Five Flavors pack, but is much more subdued.

The coconut taste subtly smooths out the pineapple, but does not stand out immediately, revealing itself more in the aftertaste. Although the coconut “dilutes” the pineapple taste and prevents this very sugary drink from being too cloying, pineapple is still the star of each sip.

This Fanta flavor mimics that of a real piña colada (minus the rum), but the drink was not as refreshing as it could have been. Compared to other sodas, it felt more lightly carbonated, falling flat only a few minutes after being poured into a glass. To achieve the taste of a piña colada, Fanta had to go easy on the acid, but the flavor combined with weak carbonation prevented the soda from fully quenching my thirst.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Fanta Piña Colada contains no juice, no caffeine, and (clearly) no alcohol. Feel free to add your own!

Conclusion:

Coconut is pineapple’s supporting player in Fanta Piña Colada, a smooth, sweet drink that lacks a sharp element needed to be truly refreshing. If you like piña coladas (sigh…) better than bubbles, give this one a try.

Purchased Price: $1.16
Purchased at: Country Fair
Size: 20 oz. bottle

Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 230 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 61 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sprite Ginger

Sprite Ginger

Sprite has always marketed itself to teenagers, so this Sprite Ginger seems a little off-brand. Maybe it’s only me, but I’m not sure if ginger appeals to the younger crowd.

Of course, as someone who will be admitting for the 2020 Census that he is in a much higher age bracket than teens and has never spelled the word “thick” with two c’s, I don’t know what kiddos like nowadays.

But my adult palate does know what it likes when it comes to caffeine-free, non-alcoholic carbonated sugary beverages to help me relax after a long day of adulting — lemon-lime soda and ginger ale.

Deciding which one to drink is never a difficult decision, but with this new beverage, I have another option that combines the two.

Visually, it looks like an original Sprite. But when the cap is twisted off, a noticeable ginger aroma comes out of the bottle. An equally prominent ginger flavor comes through with every sip. That flavor drives the beverage, while the lemon-lime takes a backseat, making it taste more like a ginger ale than a Sprite.

I can understand why the lymon soda brand decided to add the spice to its classic, clear, and citrusy beverage. It’s because the combination is delicious. Before this, the only proof I had to back up that statement was Canada Dry’s Ginger Ale and Lemonade that’s been around for a couple of years.

Sprite Ginger with Canada Dry

When comparing Sprite Ginger with Canada Dry’s Ginger Ale and Lemonade, the former tastes more ginger-forward, while the latter is more lemon-forward. While their flavors are on different sides of the ginger spectrum, both are equally refreshing and satisfying to my taste buds.

Sprite Ginger is an excellent beverage. But if you’re not a fan of ginger ale, you probably won’t feel the same way.

Purchased Price: More than any human should pay*
Size: 20 fl. oz. bottle
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 210 calories, 0 grams of fat, 110 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 56 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

*Sometimes it takes awhile for products to end up on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so I purchase some of them on eBay so I get them in a timely manner.

REVIEW: Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale

Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale Can

What is Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale?

Canada Dry Bold teases a more intense ginger flavor in this variety of its sweet, dry ginger soda.

How is it?

Greetings from the land of illness and misery, otherwise known as Julie’s place of employment. Luckily, my immune system of steel has prevented me from falling prey to a cocktail of insidious germs, but my poor colleagues can’t say the same. On a lunchtime run to pick up Kleenex and hand sanitizer, I stumbled upon Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale, a new product from, in my opinion, the best commercial ginger ale brand out there. Although I associate the beverage primarily as a panacea for everything from colds to hangovers, I always enjoy a fizzy ginger drink…but is bolder better?

Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale Fizzy

Upon first pour, Canada Dry Bold has a richer, gold color and more fizz compared to the original variety, along with a sharper scent that brought a tickle to my nose. The first sip tasted very similar to Canada Dry or any other standard ginger ale: sweet and refreshing, with a hint of ginger, although missing a hint of its characteristic crispness. With another sip, the ginger taste became more noticeably more pronounced. But at this point, “bold” seemed like a strong word — more like “enhanced” or “elevated.”

Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale Color

After a few moments, the drink built up to spicy sensation, a peppery warmth without flavor, that lingered in the throat for several minutes. The feeling was definitely pleasant, and because of my tendency to rely on the brand for comfort in times of sickness, I appreciated the “burn” as an extra kick in a still-soothing, palatable drink.

Because that kick hesitates, the drink may disappoint enthusiasts looking for a fresher, more robust flavor in the vein of ginger beer.

Is there anything else you need to know?

You don’t NEED to know this, but I found it interesting: Both the original and bold varieties contain less than 2% ginger extract, which is apparently not enough to merit the claim that Canada Dry is “made with real ginger” and boasts related health benefits. After a 2019 false advertisement lawsuit, the brand opted to relinquish that statement, instead describing their drinks as having “real ginger taste.” Don’t let that knowledge ruin the placebo effect the next time you reach for a Canada Dry to soothe your queasy stomach.

Conclusion:

Canada Dry Bold is more like Canada Dry Moderate, but its enhanced ginger taste and resulting warm spice sensation will still refresh and soothe whatever might ail you.

Purchased Price: $5.79
Size: 12 pack of 12-ounce cans (2-liter size also available at some locations)
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 12 oz. can) 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mountain Dew Zero Sugar

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar

What is Mountain Dew Zero Sugar?

PepsiCo has released Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, a new formulation with 0 calories and 0 sugar. Wait, what’s going on here? Isn’t there already Diet Mountain Dew?

Calorie and sugar-conscious consumers may have noticed some weirdness with the calorie counts for various sizes of Diet Mountain Dew. A 12-ounce can will have 0 calories, but larger serving sizes will have 5, or even 10 calories.

This is because the FDA requires companies to round to the nearest 5 calories, with anything below 5 calories per serving able to be stated as 0. If these calories and carbs have been a barrier from choosing PepsiCo’s citrus soda, this is the Dew for you.

How is it?

The question of Mountain Dew Zero Sugar isn’t how it compares to regular Mountain Dew, but how it stands next to Diet Dew. To test this, I poured a sample of each and carefully considered their attributes.

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Comparison

The color is identical, though I detected a slightly sharper citrus scent in the Zero Sugar sample. I take a sip of each, being sure to aspirate the beverage and thereby allowing the aerosolized droplets to fully coat my palate. This reveals the samples to have very similar flavors. There’s a rounder flavor to the original Diet Dew, with Zero Sugar once again being a bit more acidic. I suspect the small amount of concentrated orange juice in the original formula accounts for this.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Closeup

My careful organoleptic analysis revealed some subtle differences that will be clear to the mindful drinker. The flaw here is that no one actually sips Mountain Dew. No, Mountain Dew is meant to be chugged while snowboarding down some sick powder, brah, or perhaps while pwning some n00bs in Call of Duty.

I would’ve liked to replicate those conditions, but I can’t snowboard and am terrible at competitive video games. Instead, I slammed down a glass of each while playing Death Stranding and as a snow plow added to the grey pile of slush in front of my driveway.

They taste the same.

Conclusion:

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar succeeds at removing an obstacle for calorie and sugar-conscious drinkers from Doing the Dew without sacrificing Diet Dew’s flavor.

Purchased Price: $2.68
Size: 16.9 oz (6 bottles)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10

Nutrition Facts: 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 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Energy Zero Sugar

Coca-Cola Energy Zero Sugar and Zero Sugar Cherry

Like many dumb kids from the 80s, one of my favorite sodas – much to my parents’ chagrin – was the now-legendary Jolt Cola. Appearing infrequently and in different incarnations over the past few years — as chewing gum even, if I remember correctly – they’ve never been able to recapture that shaky soda feeling that was very much part of the whole experience.

Now, probably about twenty years too late, Coca-Cola is dropping its official entry into the energy drink movement with, of course, Coca-Cola Energy. Loaded with around 114 milligrams of caffeine — that’s comparable with a 12 oz. can of Red Bull, natch — the flavors not only come in original and cherry but in sugar and sugar-free options as well. Something for everyone!

Still, with all the caffeine I ingested over the past few hours, you bet your sweet ass I went with the sugar-free selections.

Coca Cola Energy Zero Sugar Closeup

Typically I’m more of a Diet Coke drinker than a Coke Zero fanboy, so it’s always a bit jolting — no pun intended — to have the close-to-original flavor of Coke coating my tongue once again with Coca-Cola Energy Zero Sugar. With none of the guarana aftertaste that sullies most energy drinks, the mixture of caffeine and b-vitamins is mostly undetectable.

But, sadly, they maybe were a little too undetectable. I was not feeling that rush of energy, that second-wind that sweeps through my person whenever I down a Sugar-Free Red Bull, for example. It was a bit disappointing. I almost feel like I could have had about two Diet Cokes with the same basic effect.

Coca Cola Energy Zero Sugar Cherry Closeup

I figured that with no change in my typical alertness, it was the perfect time to try the Zero Sugar Cherry, which has more of a bite than Cherry Coke Zero or Diet Cherry Coke. While this variation is definitely tastier than the regular Coca-Cola Energy Zero Sugar, a little still goes a long way and I had to quickly swig the last half down.

The energy drink has a cinnamon-like flair that reminds me of the recent holidays and Christmases of long ago, like a liquidly Dickens ghost. Sadly, this spectre is still not the kinetic wave I was promised. Instead, it’s an artificially-flavored energy letdown.

Maybe, like an addict who needs harsher, more dangerous drugs to get off, I’ve spent so much of my life downing these lightning bolts of fraudulent energy that these Coca-Cola products don’t work for me.

Regardless, I’m glad Coke slapped its name on these products and threw them on the shelves. But, you know, when it comes to name-brand sodas dipping their toes in this business, you still can’t go wrong with those Mountain Dew Game Fuel drinks.

Purchased Price: $1.79 each
Size: 12 fl. oz. cans
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10 (both)
Nutrition Facts: (12 fl. oz.) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 40 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.