Good News! As of March 2011, both Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are permanent additions to the Pepsi lineup!
Listen to our NPR interview about Pepsi Throwback.
Keep reading below to learn more background information about Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback.
I just got off the phone with a media relations representative from Pepsi, where they answered many of the questions that you have asked in your comments regarding the Throwback beverages. Hopefully, we'll all learn something new!
For those of you just joining us, I'll provide this official summary from Pepsi to get you up to speed:
"This spring, Pepsi and Mountain Dew are inviting consumers on a nostalgic trip back in time by offering special retro versions of these popular beverages."
"The Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback packaging feature a retro look and are sweetened with natural sugar, just as they were back in the '60s and '70s, to give consumers a taste of the past"
Depending on your perspectives, I've got some good news… and I have some bad news. But hopefully we'll be able to answer some of the most popular "fact vs. myth" inquires about Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback.
Pulling from the comments posted here on BevReview.com, as well as what I've been reading on Twitter and elsewhere, I put together some questions for Pepsi and they've been gracious enough to answer them. Nicole Bradley of Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages has provided the context for these answers. Here we go…
1. What will the packaging look like?
Let's get the bad news out of the way, shall we? Those of you who were excited about the retro bottle and label design mockups that we previously featured (see "Refreshingly Retro" ad here) are going to be disappointed. Remember how we noted that these designs mentioned "Visuals are directional only. Final executions may vary"? Ever wonder why these retro designs were not found in trademark filings? It's because they aren't going to be the ones used.
Rather, both the bottles and cans will reflect the look that was originally discovered in the searches of the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System. The following images have been provided directly by PepsiCo. First, let's start with Pepsi.
Granted, these are obviously electronic representations of the final design, but from this we can denote that the bottle design uses the vertical 'swirl' pattern in the plastic, found on most new Pepsi products today. The 1940's Pepsi-Cola script logo is used to identify the product, seemingly "cut out" of the rest of the blue background by a baby blue shadow. The dark blue color seems to be on par with the same blue used in the Pepsi logo redesign.
The logo is rotated vertically, so you have to turn your head to the left to read it. Below this logo is the word "Throwback", spelled in lowercase letters using the same font as is used in the Pepsi logo redesign. In smaller type, the phrase "made with natural sugar" can be found, emphasis on "natural sugar", also in lowercase.
The can design follows this same style… dark blue/baby blue, Pepsi-Cola script, sideways lettering, lowercase modern font from the logo redesign.
Moving over to Mountain Dew, we're presented with the 'box' logo used throughout the 1970s/80s, oriented vertically, so you have to view it sideways. It might just be me, but it would also seem that the logo itself has been scrunched a bit when compared to the original version. It seems shorter and wider than previously used.
This logo sits on a darker green background, with the phrase "Throwback" written below it in a light green color. Like the Pepsi Throwback bottle, the font used to spell "Throwback" appears to be the same as the one used in the Pepsi logo redesign. In smaller, white type, the phrase "made with natural sugar" sits below the "Throwback" callout. Like originally shown in the prototype mockup, the Dew bottle itself uses the vertical 'swirl' pattern in the plastic. The can design pretty much mimics the bottle design exactly… but it's on a can. Duh!
Now, personally, I'm disappointed with this design direction from Pepsi. It just doesn't seem as "retro" and executed as it could be. Frankly, the overall feel is quite bland. Not to mention that with all the other changes taking place with Pepsi products right now, this is sure to cause just a bit more confusion, especially when it comes to the Mountain Dew version. They aren't distinct enough to be their own thing, nor are they special enough to really warrant attention. Judging by all the comments, links, and Twitter mentions of Pepsi Throwback out there, what the fans want and what Pepsi has provided doesn't seem to match up designwise… especially after seeing the prototype images. But that's just my opinion, so take it as you will. Still, we're getting sugar-sweetened Pepsi, so that's something.
Let's move on to the good news!
2. What sizes will be available?
Per Pepsi, "20-oz. single-serve bottles and 12-pack cans." These are plastic bottles, not glass, for those who were wondering. It does not appear that 2-liter or other sizes will be available.
3. What are the official release dates for these products?
Per Pepsi, "Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback will be available nationwide for about 8 weeks beginning April 20". We previously reported a release window of April 20-June 13. Technically, 8 weeks would be June 15, but again, it says "about 8 weeks", plus you have product that will be on the shelves after the release dates. (Then again, if these prove popular, they might not be around that long!)
Mark Ficher of the Dayton Daily News wrote an article where he asked Pepsi, "what if consumer response is overwhelmingly positive? Might Pepsi change its mind about the limited-time offer?"
Their response? "We'll have to see."
4. What type of sugar will be used in Pepsi/Mountain Dew Throwback?
Now, this is the big question. I've seen mention of "pure cane sugar" being thrown around the 'net in regards to the Throwback lineup. However, the prototype artwork noted just "Made with real sugar", while the official images we see above note "Made with natural sugar".
First, a little education. There are basically two types of sugar that could be used. Cane sugar, which is sourced from sugarcane that is grown above the ground. Then there is beet sugar, which is pulled from beets grown underground.
There is often much debate over which is preferred, but the markets as of late have positioned cane sugar as the more "sought after" product, with beet sugar being the cheaper of the two to produce. Note how many beverages have blatantly advertised that they use cane sugar (see Jones Soda and Boylan, to name a few). Whether one can actually tell the difference is something that is up to you. I'm not a food scientist!
Nevertheless, back to Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback. Per Pepsi, these beverages are "sweetened with natural sugar, a blend of cane sugar and beet sugar." So there's your answer!
5. Are these beverages Kosher? Are they the same as the Kosher for Passover versions of Pepsi?
However, per Pepsi, "neither product will be Kosher. The Throwback formulations are not the same as the formulas used for the Kosher beverages." So there you have it. They aren't the same as their Kosher brethren.
6. What prompted the rollout of Pepsi/Mountain Dew Throwback?
Here's the official press release spin on the purpose of the Throwback line: "'As we revamp our brand with our 'refresh everything' campaign, we want to give a nod to the fun things of the past," said Anamaria Irazabal, director of marketing, Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages. "For some, it will be a trip down memory lane but for others, it will be a chance to experience a new twist on their favorite brands'."
When I followed up regarding the removal of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and the current debate over the use of that sweetener, Pepsi replied that "these products were not created because of any health concerns. There is a lot of misinformation circulating about HFCS, but the truth is that it's made from corn and contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives. HFCS is essentially the same as table sugar and is metabolized the same."
They also noted that "sugar is used in the Throwback offerings because we wanted to be true to the time these products represent. In the '60s and '70s, sugar was the sweetener used in our soft drinks."
So there you have it, BevReview fans. Some more information regarding the highly-anticipated Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback. Keep those questions and comments coming, and thanks for mentioning our coverage here-and-there. We sure appreciate it! Thanks again to Nicole Bradley at Pepsi for helping us track down some answers.