Three O’Dwyer staffers who did a blind taste test of Pepsi made with cane sugar and Pepsi made with corn sugar called the cane sugar Pepsi better-tasting.

One staffer said Pepsi made with corn sugar was “nasty” while Pepsi made with cane sugar (Throwback) was “nice.”

O'Dwyer's staffers Eileen Kelly and Kevin McCauley take the Pepsi taste test.
Two other staffers picked the cane sugar Pepsi as the better-tasting of the two.

The sodas were served cold without ice cubes. Staffers were given a half cup of each but were not told what they were drinking.

We decided to conduct this test after slammed regular Pepsi in a comparison with Pepsi Throwback.

Said BevReview: “When stacked up against Pepsi made with high fructose corn syrup, frankly, you want to spit out that stuff and run away…(corn) Pepsi “starts out a bit watery, with a bit of chemical flavor” and has a “syrupy residue that enters your mouth during the middle part of your tasting experience, as well as the aftertaste.”

Corn sugar and cane sugar are similar in chemical make-up (fructose and glucose) but also slightly different. Cane sugar is 50/50 glucose and fructose while corn sugar is 55% fructose and 45% mostly glucose. Fructose is almost two times as sweet as glucose.

Throwback Back on the Market

The company has been marketing Throwback Pepsi sporadically in recent years but has now decided to keep it permanently on the market.

In an odd twist, it is not mentioning taste as the reason for the return.

USA Today marketing columnist Bruce Horovitz sees the return of “real” sugar in Pepsi and some other products as part of a “nostalgia” trend.

He wrote March 11 that Pepsi was bringing back Pepsi and Mountain Dew with a “formula tweak” that replaces corn sugar with “yesteryear’s sugar.” He quotes “branding consultant” Peter Madden as saying that nostalgia works on two levels—the 40-plus sector loves to remember when, and the many Gen Y’ers and tweens think retro’s hip.”

Supposedly, if you like Throwback, you’re an “old fogy.” Either that or you’re in Generation Y and trying to be trendy.

The name of the product seems to insult its users.

Throwback is made with “real sugar” says the bottle, which raises the question of what regular Pepsi is made with (corn sugar). Corn sugar has been in wide use in sodas since the early 1980s.

'Most Demonized Additive'

Robert Lustig, who was quoted liberally in the April 17 New York Times magazine’s 6,363-word article titled “Is Sugar Toxic?” calls high fructose corn syrup “the most demonized additive known to man.”

The 2.1-quart bottle we purchased yesterday had on its label, “Limited Time Only.” It cost $3. A 12-ounce can of regular Pepsi purchased at the same time cost $1.

Throwback, says the label, consists of “carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid and natural flavor.” Caffeine is 25 mg. per 8 oz. Regular Pepsi consists of “carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine, citric acid, and natural flavor.” Caffeine content is 38 mg. per 12 oz.

The company’s Frito-Lay unit is bringing back a Doritos chip from the 1980s, Horovitz notes.

Other companies are said to be stressing nostalgia with their products. Nike is “peddling a bunch of throwback sneakers” (the $160 Playoff Air Jordan Retro shoe that was marketed in February), he wrote.

Major League Baseball and Kraft are also indulging in the nostalgia craze, he adds.

Pepsi Boosts Nostalgia

Shiv Singh, head of digital for PepsiCo, sees “a return to a simpler world.” He says “There’s a massive teen trend around simplicity and authenticity.”

Too much sugar can damage the liver and pancreas, said the NYT article, leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The article did not go into the issue of whether soda tastes better with cane or corn sugar.

CBS News said April 18 that Americans are consuming twice as much sugar as the recommended amount.

Corn sugar Coke has about 17% of the soda market while corn sugar Pepsi has 10%.

Baseball greats Rollie Fingers, Ozzie Smith and Mike Schmidt debut the Pepsi/ MLB campaign.
Pepsi announced yesterday that its new no-calorie Pepsi Max soda has been named the official soft drink of Major League Baseball.

Commercials will feature retired and current baseball figures such as Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Lou Piniella and CC Sabathia playing in imaginary games (a take-off from the movie, “Field of Dreams”).

Sinopoli Was Pepsi VP

Patti Sinopoli, described by Pepsi PR as a “part-time Chicago employee,” has pointed out she worked 21 years at Pepsi and companies that it had acquired, rising to the title of VP.

Sinopoli, who said she left the company in March, said her most recent title was VP-strategic communications, which she held since 2007.

While based in Chicago, she said she reported to SVP Julie Hamp in New York and later, Nancy Lintner, and was a member of the communications executive team.

Previously she was with Pepsi acquisition Quaker Oats including serving as VP-corporate affairs for QTG (Quaker Tropicana Gatorade).

She also spent nearly 17 years in PR roles for Gatorade and Quaker.