Review: Pepsi Lemon NFL Kickoff


As previously reported, PepsiCo has brought back the discontinued Pepsi Twist flavor, but given it a new name: Pepsi Lemon NFL Kickoff (or “Lemon Pepsi NFL Kickoff” or just “Pepsi NFL Kickoff with a kick of Lemon”… it’s hard to be sure just what the name is officially!)

Pepsi Lemon NFL Kickoff

Pepsi Twist debuted in 2000 and was eventually discontinued in 2006. Thanks to a promotional deal with the NFL, the formula seems to have returned as a “Limited Edition Flavor” for 4 months to celebrate the beginning of football season.

I didn’t have an old bottle of Pepsi Twist sitting next to me to compare the flavors, so it’s hard to say if this is the exact same combination of ingredients. Here’s a breakdown of the two ingredient lists side-by-side, with changes in the new drink noted in bold:

Pepsi Twist
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, clarified lemon juice from concentrate, caramel color, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, potassium benzoate, caffeine, citric acid, ascorbic acid, and calcium disodium EDTA

Pepsi Lemon NFL Kickoff
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, clarified lemon juice from concentrate, caramel color, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, potassium benzoate, caffeine, citric acid, ascorbic acid, and calcium disodium EDTA

Yeah, I’d say they are pretty much the same. When I drank Pepsi Lemon NFL Kickoff, I was actually surprised by the lack of lemon flavor present… until I noticed that I made the same observation during my original review for Pepsi Twist. The “tastes like Pepsi mixed with Pledge” element (very obvious with Diet Coke with Lemon) did seem to be toned down a bit. That could just bit history and my perceptions… because this probably is the same formula. In any case, it tastes like Pepsi with just a slightly different (read: “less edgy”) aftertaste, masked by the lemon infusion.

The packaging is a graphical mess. How many logos and callouts can we throw on this thing? You aren’t really sure what the heck you are looking at. There’s the Pepsi name, small subtitles of “NFL Kickoff”, a yellow band at the bottom proclaiming “with a kick of lemon”, a callout for “Double Pepsi Stuff Points!” on top, and a clipart inclusion of a football (with the NFL logo slapped on it). What, did it take an intern at Pepsi like 10 minutes to crank this out or what?

Pepsi Lemon NFL Kickoff

You know your product is on rocky footing when you have to add bullet points to the packaging to try to sell you on actually drinking this thing. Here’s what the label says (and note the change in the way the name is phrased):

Lemon Pepsi NFL Kickoff Limited Edition Flavor
  • The 2008 NFL season is here!
  • Kick it off with a limited edition NFL Kickoff!
  • Go to www.pepsistuff.com and enter the Code under your cap.
  • Collect to get downloads or other cool stuff or sweepstakes entries.

It should be noted that nowhere on the labeling is it mentioned that Amazon is the provider of MP3 downloads. I had read somewhere that retailers like Wal-Mart did not like seeing that on signage promoting Pepsi Stuff products. I wonder if that factored in here, or if the NFL licensing had something to do with it.

If you miss the lemon-sweetened flavor of the now-gone Pepsi Twist, then make sure you track down this beverage before it disappears. Otherwise, you really aren’t missing much. I wonder what sports league Pepsi can partner with next to bring back the formula for Crystal Pepsi?

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