Back in my day, it was just enough that a diet soda didn't taste like hot copper. It was a bonus if the taste actually resembled the full-calorie version.
Among my diet-swilling friends, Diet Dr Pepper has always had cache. Introduced in 1963 as "Dietetic Dr Pepper," I have been repeatedly told that it's the diet soda that most clearly evokes the flavor of the original soda. Still, man and soft-drink companies can't leave well enough alone. Seeing as Kansas City is one of the initial test markets for Dr Pepper 10 -- a new diet soft drink aimed specifically at men -- I decided to put it up against Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper in a taste test.
Because my wife drinks significantly more diet soda than I do, I recruited her to join me in the sip test (although I first had her sign a waiver because this 2-liter is technically not meant for women). Two things were immediately clear: Dr Pepper 10 has a significantly sweeter finish (likely from the additional ingredient of high fructose corn syrup) than Diet Dr Pepper and a much more prominent cherry flavor.
This one feels a bit like Dr Pepper's "New Coke" moment. In the sip test, the initial sweet rush of Dr Pepper 10 was pleasant. Halfway through a glass, I was hoping more ice would melt to mute the flavor. Have we become so jaded as a diet-soda-consuming culture that it is no longer enough to simply create a reasonable facsimile of a full-calorie soda? Instead, must we sweeten our diet sodas to create an entirely new category of pop?
The original Dr Pepper (and Diet) have always finished with a slight bite, which is exactly what I'm looking for when I grab one off the shelves. By sweetening the finish, Dr Pepper 10 has been stripped of its degree and is tasting a lot more like Mr Pibb (now Pibb Extra). So if it's just between us guys, I think I'll pass.
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