Is this the return of Pepsi Blue?
For a limited time this summer, Pepsi has a new flavor out… Pepsi Summer Mix. It is described on the bottle as “a mix of tropical fruit flavors” and “tropical fruit flavored cola.” Hmmm, interesting!
In recent years, Pepsi has rolled out quite a few “limited edition” beverages, including Pepsi Holiday Spice, Mountain Dew Pitch Black, Mountain Dew Pitch Black II, Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, and Mountain Dew LiveWire (which actually became a full-time flavor). I had read back in January about this product, but wasn’t fully aware of what it was or how it was going to be launched.
Let’s start with the packaging. Boy, if that crazy label doesn’t catch your eye, I don’t know what will! Back in 1990 I collected a series of Pepsi cans called “Cool Cans”. They were basically summer-only graphics on Pepsi cans. Very contemporary and really attractive. The Summer Mix label hints back to those designs.
Surprisingly, this is not a diet flavor. So much of the flavored cola innovation coming out of PepsiCo these days is towards the diet market, namely the Jazz Series: Diet Pepsi Jazz Black Cherry French Vanilla, Diet Pepsi Jazz Strawberries & Cream, and Diet Pepsi Jazz Caramel Cream. Nope, here you get good ole high fructose corn syrup… not that HCFS is that great, but it’s not an artificial sweetener either.
I have yet to see large scale promotion for this product, and frankly, I wonder if we will. It just sort of “showed up” without prior press releases or hype. There is a simple one page website for the product over at Pepsi.com which features nothing more than a large Flash-animated image playing techno-tropical music. Maybe Pepsi’s expectations aren’t very high for this drink, or they are just being budget-minded on the marketing rollout. The tagline from the website reads: “You mix your music, now mix your cola. It’s hot out and time to take a break with PEPSI SUMMER MIX. The mix of tropical fruit flavors makes summer that much better.”
Upon opening the bottle, you can tell that there’s a distinct Pepsi smell, but sweetened with something more “berry” in nature. It’s a very potent scent, almost like candy. And then there is the taste! Wow, is this stuff sweet. Very sweet. Like “hey, how would you like some instant diabetes?” sweet. It hearkens back to two other sodas of note, Jones Blue Bubble Gum Soda and, yes, Pepsi Blue. In fact, if this soft drink was not colored like a cola, you could probably have made it blue.
There is a distinct bubble gum-like flavor there, but beyond that, it’s hard to place exactly what “tropical fruit flavored” really means. It’s not fully berry, it’s not fully citrus. There were some comparisons made to Diet Pepsi Jazz Strawberries & Cream, albeit in a non-diet formula. It’s more sweet fruitiness than cola, which is what brings me back to good ole Pepsi Blue, originally marketed as “a fusion of berry and cola.” It’s been years since I’ve had a taste of Pepsi Blue (it came out in 2002 and was discontinued in 2004), but for some reason the flavoring came to mind.
Like that legendary flop, I’m not sure Pepsi Summer Mix goes well with food. The sweetness makes it more of a stand-alone drink. It doesn’t feel as “light” as a good summer beverage could be (the Sprite Remix collection comes to mind: awesome Sprite Remix Tropical, burp-inducing Sprite Remix Berryclear, and so-so Sprite Remix Aruba Jam.) The coloring of the product obviously markets it as a more conservative cola choice rather than an alternative bright blue experiment.
As a whole, however, I was rather disappointed with Pepsi Summer Mix. I really wanted to like it, but it just didn’t impress me. The sweetness could have been scaled back and more unique tropical flavorings could have been worked into the formula. I don’t really see this product succeeding in the marketplace. That doesn’t mean it’s horrible. You should probably try it once before the summer is over and this drink is gone forever!