26 April, 2009

Mountain Dew vs. Mountain Dew Throwback

Back in February, I noted that Pepsico was planning on bringing back real sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Pepsi Cola Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are now on the shelves as promised.

Although I haven't seen them in the local grocery stores yet, 20-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew Throwback and Pepsi Throwback are being carried by a few convenience stores in my area. I bought a bottle of the Mountain Dew variety today to compare with standard Mtn Dew.

A check of the label reveals that there are two differences between the Dew varieties: Today's "Mtn Dew" (as Pepsico now refers to the drink) contains high-fructose corn syrup and concentrated orange juice; Mountain Dew Throwback is sweetened with sugar, and contains no juice. So, how do they stack up?

No matter what anyone tells you, there is a distinct and noticeable difference in the flavor of drinks sweetened with HFCS and those sweetened with sugar. I was amazed when I took a swig of Mountain Dew Throwback - it tasted exactly like I remembered it tasting when I was back in high school. Although still kind of syrupy sweet (some things never change, I guess) Dew's lemony edge was back. The flavor was sharp and clean.

Mtn Dew, in contrast, tasted thick and rounded, like the flavor had been filed off at the corners. The concentrated orange juice was indetectable - I never knew it was in there to begin with, until I read the labels after comparing the two drinks - but the citrusy tang was just not there.

I poured some in a blind tasting for my daughter. She's 20, born after the big soft drink companies switched over to HFCS, and although Dew is her soft drink of choice (especially the blue Voltage variety) she had never before tasted sugar-sweetened Mountain Dew. She carefully tasted both of the drinks, not knowing which one was which, before she pushed one of the glasses toward me. "That one's fresher tasting. A lot more like citrus. I like it a lot better than the other one." She had chosen Mountain Dew Throwback.

I know that politically-motivated high sugar prices and intense lobbying by Big Corn is going to keep HFCS flowing thickly into soft drinks for a long time. The Throwback products are just a tiny slice of PepsicCo's beverage production, but I am grateful to PepsiCo for at least giving consumers the ability to choose sugar sweetening.


Michele said...

I had a Pepsi Throwback over the weekend. I agree with you Dave...the taste difference is amazing. I was once again drinking the Pepsi from my youth. Crisp, clean and much more distinguishable flavors. Hopefully PepsiCo keeps Throwback as a regular addition to their product line.

wkitty42 said...

the real question, now, is if Throwback is from the "original recipe" or something else ;)