Pepsi was originally created in 1893 by a man named Caleb Bradham, and was called Brad’s Drink. In 1898, it changed its name to Pepsi-Cola, and finally in 1961 it rebranded as just Pepsi. Throughout its many years of existence, Pepsi has released dozens of different variants of its classic drinks, including many limited edition flavours and international products. With such a large amount of options, there’s bound to be some drinks that weren’t well received with the public. Here are the Top 10 Pepsi drinks that embarrassed the company.
10. Crystal Pepsi
In the early 1990s, clear household products and drinks were all the craze. People liked the idea of no artificial dyes or flavours in their drinks and clear sodas were meant to be healthier and more pure than their traditional counterparts. Pepsi hopped on to the trend in the early 90s by releasing a clear soda called Crystal Pepsi that was marketed as a caffeine free alternative to the company’s usual dark cola, but it really wasn’t much healthier as it still contained the same amount of calories and sugar. Everybody knows about the rivalry between Coke and Pepsi, and pretty much everyone has a preference for one of the two. This rivalry was actually one of the main reasons that Crystal Pepsi failed. When the Coca-Cola Company saw that Pepsi had released a clear drink, it realized it needed to release one of its own to compete. Except instead of just releasing a good drink to compete with Crystal Pepsi, Coca-Cola purposely released a product that was created to fail and bring down Crystal Pepsi with it. The unpopular drink was called Tab Clear, and it was promoted as a diet drink with medicinal purposes. This was done to confuse customers into thinking that its counterpart Crystal Pepsi had these same characteristics, leading to a decrease in sales. Both products flopped and ended up being pulled off the shelves in 1994, thanks to Coke’s marketing strategies. Luckily for anyone who wants to try the drink though, Crystal Pepsi has been brought back as a limited edition drink quite a few times, so next time it comes back around you can get the chance to buy some.
9. Pepsi Blue
After the success of Mountain Dew Code Red in the early 2000s, Pepsi wanted to create even more flavour varieties within its products to gain more sales, so Pepsi Blue was released in 2002. The soda was bright blue in colour and was marketed as tasting like some sort of berries. Despite having an extensive promotional period, including the use of celebrities in adverts as well as appearances in movies, the fruity drink was not very well received by the public thanks to the company’s use of a controversial and untrusted ingredient. In order to achieve the super blue colouring of the drink, Pepsi Blue used the dye Blue 1. Blue 1, also known as Brilliant Blue FCF is a synthetic dye used in multiple products such as food and cosmetics. While some experts have decided that the dye is safe to use, there are still some people who believe that the substances is a hazard to one’s health, causing cancers and asthma, among other things. The dye was actually banned in a few countries at the time of Pepsi Blue’s release, so it’s understandable that people didn’t want to be ingesting the substance. Pepsi tried to heavily promote its product through various advertisements, but the product never really did catch on, and was discontinued in the United States in 2004. Pepsi Blue is still available in certain locations overseas, such as Indonesia and the Philippines though, so if you ever travel around there you can try the controversial drink.
Caffeinated energy drinks have been around since the early 20th century, but it wasn’t really until the late 90s and early 2000s that they really took off and became the big brand that they are today. While it’s common now to see people drinking huge cans of Red Bull and Monster, it was less common just a couple of decades ago. Pepsi was a little ahead of its time when it became the US’s first major drink company to release an energy drink in 1995. The drink was called Josta and it was a slightly spicy fruit flavored energy drink that used guarana and caffeine as its energy providers. Guarana is a plant native to the Amazon of Brazil, and is commonly used as a stimulant, as the seeds from its fruit contain twice the amount of caffeine as coffee seeds do. This combined with the caffeine from coffee seeds makes the perfect energy drink formula. The high energy drink actually did become quite popular after its release, changes in PepsiCo’s sales policies meant that the drink hadn’t sold enough to be kept on the shelves. In 1999, the drink was officially discontinued and sadly it hasn’t seen a re release yet. Since its discontinuation, many people have created petitions to bring the drink back, and since energy drinks are quite popular in today’s world, it would be a good time to bring the drink back, even if it is just for a limited time only. If you’re really desperate to try it though, there are some recipes online on how to make your own at home.
In the 1980s, to compete with other fruit flavoured sodas such as Sprite, which is produced by Pepsi’s rival company Coca-Cola, PepsiCo released a line of fruity sodas called Slice. From its release in 1984 until 1994, the drink actually contained 10% fruit juice, making it seem like a healthier alternative to artificially flavoured drinks. There were 15 flavours available throughout the years the product existed such as grape, fruit punch, apple, cherry cola, peach, and many more. The drink was highly successful and by 1987, 3.2% of the soda market was made up of Slice sodas. However, popularity began to drop around the late 80s. It’s unknown when exactly Slice was discontinued, but flavors began dropping from its lineup by the year 2000, and they were all gone somewhere between the late 2000s and the early 2010s. It is still possible to try certain flavors of the brand though, as the lemon-lime flavor of Slice was pulled from the lineup in 2000 to become a standalone product called Sierra Mist, which is still available today, while the orange flavor became the Tropicana Twister. The name Slice has since been acquired by New Slice Ventures, who are due to launch four flavors of the soda sometime this year. However, to the disappointment of many retro soda lovers, this new Slice just isn’t the same. The drink is now made from sparkling water and organic fruit juice, with way less calories and sugar than its predecessor. While this is great news for health fans, it’s just not the same as the original.
6. Pepsi Holiday Spice
Spice flavored drinks are all the rage throughout the holidays. Pumpkin spice flavoured anything (especially lattes) are almost impossible to get away from, and cinnamon flavored drinks and teas are also fairly common. The one thing these things have in common is that they’re all hot, which is perfect for the chilly holiday weather. Refreshing cold sodas are known for being pretty much the exact opposite. Starting in 2004, Pepsi released a limited edition holiday soda, called the Pepsi Holiday Spice, which was a variation of classic Pepsi including various spices. The 2004 version of the drink included only cinnamon, which doesn’t sound too bad considering it’s already an ingredient in the usual Pepsi formula, but many people found the cold spice drink absolutely disgusting, while other people have petitioned to actually have it brought back after it was discontinued after its release in 2006. However, in 2007 a similar drink called Christmas Pepsi was released, which was pretty similar to the Holiday Spice except this time around it contained nutmeg and cocoa on top of the cinnamon. This proved to be even grosser than the original Holiday Spice, so it was discontinued in 2008.
5. Pepsi Fire
Pepsi Holiday Spice was not the last time the company would experiment with using cinnamon in its drinks. Even though some of the feedback was awful for the holiday drink, in 2017, Pepsi stepped it up a notch further and created the Pepsi Fire drink, a cinnamon infused soda that was on sale for a limited amount of time. Many people compared it to Fireball Whiskey, which is not a very pleasant experience for most people who try drinking it, so a non-alcoholic version would be even worse. Though some reviews say that the soda wasn’t actually that spicy at all, other people were simply too scared to even try it, leading to low sales. To make matters worse, the drink wasn’t only sold in soda form in stores, it was also turned into a Slurpee flavour at a limited number of 7-Eleven locations around the country. Imagine going to get a refreshing Slurpee on a hot summer day and sipping on a spicy hot frozen cinnamon infused cola, no thank you. The product received fairly negative reviews during its limited release so hopefully this will be the final sign that Pepsi should probably stop releasing cinnamon flavoured drinks.
4. Salted Caramel
Another strange holiday themed Pepsi drink that one really thought was necessary was the Salted Caramel Pepsi, released for a limited time in 2017. Another member of the holiday food group, salted caramel is definitely great on its own, but is it really the right thing to be flavoring a carbonated beverage with? Many people thought that no, it isn’t and were disgusted by the newest Pepsi creation. On top of just sounding kind of gross, adding caramel to an already extremely sugary drink just makes it even higher in sugar, leading to less people wanting to drink it. Even people with a sweet tooth can recognize that sometimes there is the possibility to have too much sugar in something, and this was definitely one of them. Many reviews of the drink say that the soda was absolutely disgusting, and that the flavours just didn’t go together. This is pretty understandable and it’s hard to believe that this product actually got through taste testing with a combination of flavors this bad. Some people didn’t think it was all that bad, but they were definitely the majority in the situation here, so it’s safe to say that Pepsi will not be releasing another caramel flavored drink any time soon.
3. Pepsi X
In 2012, in collaboration with the singing competition reality show, The X Factor, Pepsi released the limited edition Pepsi X, a dragon fruit flavoured cola. The unique flavour of the drink was chosen by an X Factor inspired “Flavor Audition Tour” to over 20 locations in 15 cities around the country. 15,000 people had the opportunity to taste test four different Pepsi flavours and vote on which one they thought tasted the best. The winner of the flavor auditions ended up being the dragon fruit flavor and it was announced on an episode of The X Factor as the winner. Despite winning the taste test though, the drink actually received many bad reviews. Many people absolutely hated the drinks. People described it as both fruity and flowery, with some people going as far as to say that it tasted like perfume. People found themselves wondering how exactly the drink managed to win the taste auditions. Were the other flavors somehow even worse than the winner? Or did the people involved in the judging just have really awful taste. We’ll probably never know, but it is safe to say that we won’t be seeing any more dragon fruit flavoured Pepsi any time soon.
2. Pepsi Next
Diet sodas are a super popular alternative to full calorie and sugar sodas, but the truth is that they’re still not anywhere near healthy, as artificial sweeteners still aren’t exactly good for you, and they don’t supply any nutritional value. Pepsi next was released in 2012 as a sort of in between diet and normal sodas, specifically marketed towards people who wanted a healthier alternative but disliked the taste of diet Pepsi. Pepsi Next was marketed as having much less sugar than normal Pepsi and using artificial sweeteners instead, containing high fructose corn syrup, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, along with just regular sugar. It originally contained aspartame too, but this was removed from the recipe in 2013 to make it seem like there were less artificial sweeteners. However, the drink was far from healthy, as this almost diet soda still contained more than the daily recommended amount of sugar, even though there’s less present than in a normal Pepsi. People realized that the product wasn’t as healthy as the company was trying to make it look, and it never really caught on, leading to Pepsi Next being discontinued in 2015. The failure of Pepsi Next should probably be the cue for soda companies to stop making these semi-diet sodas that are only created to trick people into thinking they’re healthy when they’re not.
1. Pepsi White
Pepsi has some interesting international flavors, but the Japanese ones are certainly some of the most unique out of the bunch. Some of these include the ginger flavoured Pepsi Gold, Pepsi Ice Cucumber, the chestnut flavored Pepsi Mont Blanc, Pepsi Salty Watermelon, and many, many others. One of the most daring flavors released to the Japanese market was Pepsi white, a yogurt flavored cola. Yogurt drinks can be great on their own, but to mix it with Pepsi? No thank you. Luckily, the white drink didn’t actually contain any yogurt, so the texture was that of a normal Pepsi, but the flavor combination still sounds a little too wild for most people. According to some reviews, the drink was reminiscent of cream soda but had a slightly strange taste, while other people said it reminded them of fruit sodas. Oddly enough though, the drink was said to not really taste of any yogurt, even though that’s what it was labelled as. Enough people must have liked it though because it was brought back for a limited time in 2012 again after its limited 2008 release. Hopefully someday the American market will get as creative as the Japanese one so that we can try some of these unique flavors.