Over the years, Pepsi has experimented quite a bit with adding limited-time flavor extensions to their basic lemon-lime Sierra Mist brand. We've seen the likes of Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash (Holiday 2006-8), Sierra Mist Lemon Squeeze (Summer 2007), and Sierra Mist Undercover Orange (Summer 2008). This time around, however, we have a permanent line extension with a grapefruit-infused taste: Sierra Mist Ruby Splash.
Heavily showcased during March's South by Southwest (SXSW) music/film/interactive festival in Austin, TX, Sierra Mist Ruby Splash was officially released in April.
With a tagline proclaiming it as "Liquid Sunshine", Pepsi describes the drink as "a delicious and refreshing blend of the lemon-lime taste that consumers love with a splash of ruby grapefruit." This quote comes from Kristina Mangelsdorf, who believe it or not, has the title of "Director of Marketing, Flavors" for Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages. I bet you didn't know you could have a "Flavor" position, did ya?
Unlike Cranberry Splash, Lemon Squeeze, and Undercover Orange, Ruby Splash is here to stay long-term — something I'd personally love to see happen to Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, but what do I know… I just review drinks!
Now, I have to admit my bias here. I don't like Sierra Mist. Frankly, I've never felt it was a very good lemon-lime, especially considering that the drink it replaced — Slice — had a much better taste. That said, I've really enjoyed the flavor extensions, probably because they don't taste much like Sierra Mist. The popularity of Cranberry Splash is great every holiday season, but you have to wonder if Pepsi just thinks it's not strong enough to work year-round. I'd love to see that move to full-time. Lemon Squeeze was VERY lemon-y, but not bad. And last summer's Undercover Orange was a bit odd being clear, yet the orange was refreshing, even though it tasted rather fake and syrupy.
The idea of taking a lemon-lime flagship and adding flavors to it is nothing new. 7Up has long offered a cherry flavor (Cherry 7Up), along with a holiday Pomegranate 7Up entry. They tried some ill-fated spinoffs including 7Up Plus Mixed Berry, 7Up Plus Island Fruit, and 7Up Plus Cherry. Coke experimented with extensions of Sprite years ago as well. Do you remember Sprite Remix Tropical, Sprite Remix Berryclear, and Sprite Remix Aruba Jam?
Sierra Mist is the first flavor extension to roll out with the new Sierra Mist logo that Pepsi introduced when they basically did a redesign of their entire portfolio. The new Mist logo features a rather clever "misty" fade on the phrase "Mist", complimented by yellow, green, and white. With the rollout of Ruby Splash, that logo has been enhanced with the addition of pink to the color scheme. On the 20 oz. bottle, this is emphasized by a red/pink translucent cap that really pulls out the colors in the label design. It's not as evident in the 12 oz. can, and in some ways, might easily be confused on the store shelf (granted, the cans are packaged in a larger cardboard box, thus it might be a mute point).
The diet version of the packaging uses yellow lettering in the "Mist" logo vs. the white lettering for the regular offering. Are you confused yet? Also, isn't it odd that the diet version of this drink is called "Diet Sierra Mist Ruby Splash"? What happened to the big push of using the phrase "Free" instead of "Diet", i.e. Sierra Mist Free and Sierra Mist Free Cranberry Splash?
Something I observed with the cans for Sierra Mist Ruby Splash, which were sent to me from Pepsi… Rather than have the artwork and labeling printed right on the can, they seemed to be shrinkwrapped instead, sort of like you see ads that cover entire public transit buses. However, looking at the cans available at the local store (which is here in Chicago), they were printed right on the metal. Thus I have to assume that this is a bottler issue, with different methods being used around the country. But how long has this shrinkwrap approach been used elsewhere? Anyway, I digress…
When you open a bottle or can of Sierra Mist Ruby Splash, the grapefruit scent is very obvious. It doesn't smell much like Sierra Mist. The drink itself is clear, just like Undercover Orange was last summer. Let's talk about taste, shall we? The flavor is sweet, with a nice blend of the grapefruit influence. You can still taste the Sierra Mist lemon-lime base, which depending on your preferences, could be good or bad. This drink isn't as bitter or biting as Ruby Red Squirt, which is probably the drink I'd compare it to, though you could probably also pull Canfield's 50/50 into the mix as well. Overall, it's a nice flavor extension that is light, but adds a good bit of variety to a rather dull lemon-lime experience. Plus, it's caffeine free!
The diet version of this drink, Diet Sierra Mist Ruby Splash, didn't have as great of a grapefruit flavor, in my opinion. It felt muted compared to the full-calorie edition. The sweeteners of choice are a combination of aspartame and Ace-K (acesulfame potassium), which, yes, give it that horrid aftertaste typically associated with diet beverages. That's the tradeoff you get for no sugar.
Sierra Mist Ruby Splash
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavor, potassium benzoate (preserves freshness), potassium citrate, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor
A 20 oz. bottle packs 240 calories, while a 12 oz. can will provide 150 calories. You'll get 55 mg of sodium with the bottle, 35 with the can. 65 g of sugars can be found in the plastic bottle option, while it's just 39 g in the can.
Diet Sierra Mist Ruby Splash
Carbonated water, citric acid, natural flavor, potassium citrate, aspartame, potassium benzoate (preserves freshness), acesulfame potassium, calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor
Being a diet version, there are 0 calories, carbs, or sugars. A 12 oz. can provides 35 mg of sodium.
Sierra Mist Ruby Splash is a welcomed addition, if only to provide variety for those who prefer caffeine free beverages beyond the lemon-lime flavor. The grapefruit flavoring is light, but creates a good experience overall. Meanwhile, Diet Sierra Mist Ruby Splash with aspartame and Ace-K had a less potent flavor.