Review: Wild Cherry Pepsi

One of the understated beverages in the Pepsi lineup is Wild Cherry Pepsi, which has been around since the late 1980s but didn’t really gain any sort of traction until the early 1990s.

Wild Cherry Pepsi

New bottle; new flavor

It’s never been as popular as Cherry Coke, and frankly, I doubt many people have tried it. Personally, I think Cherry RC is the best of the cherry colas, but good luck trying to find that at your local 7-11! In any case, Pepsi recently updated the formula for Wild Cherry Pepsi, and in doing so, also updated the packaging.

Wild Cherry Pepsi - Previous 2003 design

Previous 2003 design

I’ll admit the old bottle was quite ugly in design (it was launched in 2003). It’s like Pepsi hired a failing art student to come up with a bunch of scribbles. That said, the new design isn’t very bold, but does integrate the flavor more closely with the Pepsi brand… but I would have liked to see more red. Maybe Pepsi wanted to avoid red as it’s considered primarily a Coke color. Also, even though the drink is still officially called “Wild Cherry Pepsi” the bottle reads as “Pepsi Wild Cherry.”

Wild Cherry Pepsi - 2003 description

2003 description

Wild Cherry Pepsi - 2005 description

2005 description

The packaging also slightly changed the description of the product. Previously, the drink was described as “Cherry Flavored Cola”; now it’s known as “Cherry Flavored Pepsi” — like you couldn’t figure that out!

Wild Cherry Pepsi - Is it really “great”?

Is it really “great”?

The new packaging heralds this “Great New Taste” as so many products do. But was this really the case? Amy and I tried both the old and new versions of Wild Cherry Pepsi to find out. The results? The new version is much better. The cherry flavoring is stronger and has a better aftertaste. It’s a better drink now.

Pepsi’s website explains the change in a question/answer format:

Why did your change the formula for Regular and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi?
Wild Cherry Pepsi is one of our popular brands, however, we are answering our consumers’ call for a cola that provides a more robust cherry finish. In focus groups, this new formula won hands down with our consumer.

What changes have been made to Regular and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi?
For the most part, the old and new formulas are pretty similar. We have optimized the sweetness levels so that they deliver a unique rush of wild cherry flavor. For the Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, the blend of sweeteners used offers a more stable, consistent flavor.

Is the new cherry version of Pepsi better than Cherry Coke? I’m a Pepsi fan, but I’m not so sure this product excels better than Coke’s more well-known version. Pepsi has made it better, but they probably could have added more cherry flavor to improve it in my mind.

While this is the first time that Pepsi has admitted to altering the formula for this drink, it is not the first time for them to redesign the packaging. In fact, this product has been rebranded a lot over the years, probably in response to struggling market share. I was able to dig up some images of previous incarnations:

Wild Cherry Pepsi - 1988


Wild Cherry Pepsi - 1993


Wild Cherry Pepsi - 1996


Wild Cherry Pepsi - 2000


In the end, I’d recommend the new Wild Cherry Pepsi. It’s a nice break from the standard Pepsi, without the obscure flavorings found in Pepsi Twist… more like the subtle touches found in Pepsi Vanilla. Give it a try!