Review: Pepsi Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease)

Good News! As of March 2011, both Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are permanent additions to the Pepsi lineup!

After you read our review of Pepsi Throwback below, check out our Mountain Dew Throwback review

2009 will go down as the year among beverage enthusiasts as the year we finally saw mainstream reinforcement of the sugar vs. high fructose corn syrup flavor experience. With the April release of Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, we saw a widespread distribution of a niche product that used "real" or "natural" sugar, however you believe the marketing spin (it's a combination of cane and beet sugar, for those wondering).

Pepsi Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease Version)
Pepsi Throwback – December 2009 design

The Throwbacks were with us for an 8 week run… and then disappeared, much to our dismay. Based on all the comments posted here on BevReview, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, we weren't alone in that thought! Even the folks at National Public Radio were interested; they interviewed us on the air!

Thus when Pepsi announced in August that we'd see another limited return of the Throwbacks starting in December, there was much rejoicing! Things got more exciting when we started to see the improved designs that both products featured, making up for the poorly-executed visual design we saw in April. With these new looks, the "new" Throwbacks should stand out in the marketplace more effectively.

That said, the rereleased Pepsi Throwback is finally here!

Let's start by taking a look at the new label design. In Pepsi's original announcements in August, they mentioned that we'd see the "Same formula, but cooler vintage look!" (Facebook) and "With the same formula, but new awesome vintage look!" (Twitter).

Pepsi Throwback
Pepsi Throwback – April 2009 design

Long gone is the blue label color that was used in the April release. Instead, we've actually gone retro, somewhat in the spirit of the prototype Pepsi Throwback design. The Pepsi logo in the December 2009 version of Throwback seems to be a callback to the 1971 vs. the 1987 version seen on the prototype bottle (note the differences in the "PEPSI" font, especially the way the "E" is crafted).

Pepsi Throwback Comparison: Prototype, April 2009, & December 2009 Designs
Pepsi Throwback Comparison: Prototype, April 2009, & December 2009 Designs

The logo and branding is now set horizontally instead of vertical and sideways, more in line with standard can design, which was more popular back then vs. the 20 oz. bottles which dominate sales today.

Careful observers will also note a change in the way sugar is described. You'll recall the April 2009 version of Pepsi Throwback referred to the product as "made with natural sugar", however now we have a callout to being "made with real sugar" (just likethe prototype originally noted). Of course, the use of this language seems a lot clearer vs. the question of "just what is natural sugar?" If the formula stays the same as has been previously shared, it should still be a combination of cane and beet sugar. Ironically, the use of the "real sugar" line may also prompt potential customers to ask, "so, if this is real sugar, what was the stuff in Pepsi before?" I'm sure the folks over at the Corn Refiners Association would love to answer that question.

Pepsi Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease Version)

Rounding out the new design is a nice yellow callout banner on the retro logo denoting that this product is "Throwback" and available for a "Limited Time Only".

Moving on to the taste. I'm happy to report that the same flavor we experienced with the April 2009 release of Pepsi Throwback is back. There was no noticeable change to the taste. Because of that, I'm going to repost my notes from that original review:

Well, I'd like you to envision drinking a HFCS Pepsi. Now remove the syrupy residue that enters your mouth during the middle part of your tasting experience, as well as the aftertaste. Replace it with a full-bodied "Pepsi flavor", not just at the end of the drink, but during the entire experience. While HFCS Pepsi starts out a bit watery, with a bit of chemical flavor, Pepsi Throwback is cleaner, producing a consistent cola taste from first sip, while it passes over your tongue, and eventually the aftertaste as it goes down your throat.

Our original Pepsi Throwback review also compared this drink against HFCS Pepsi, Kosher Pepsi, and Mexican Pepsi, so if you'd like to see how the drink stacks up to those iterations of the brand, make sure you give it a read!

Pepsi Throwback (December 2009 Rerelease Version)

For those curious, here's the ingredient list compared to HFCS Pepsi:Let's start by comparing the ingredients in all 4 entries:

HFCS Pepsi
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine, citric acid, natural flavor

Pepsi Throwback
Carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, natural flavor

In the end, we applaud Pepsi's decision to not only bring back Throwback, but also work to improve the visual appeal of the drink. We're just sorry to hear that it is once again a short-term beverage. (But at least it has inspired new products like Heritage Dr Pepper to come to market!)

We highly recommend the taste and flavor experience of Pepsi Throwback and encourage you to support it with your wallet during its December 28-February 22 run. Just maybe one of these days Pepsi will wake up and give us a more steady supply of this superior-tasting drink!

Other Throwback coverage on


  1. Attention Pepsi marketing dept- PLEASE DON'T STOP MAKING THIS!!!!!!!!! (Or the Heritige Dr. Pepper!)

  2. please keep the throwback Pepsi,Mountain Dew,and Dr,Pepper I love all three and love the fact that they have real sugar if the 3 stay I will switch to Pepsi forever.

  3. I had no idea there was a Pepsi Throwback until I found a bottle at Target last night. It's really good.
    I heard there is a Kosher for Passover Pepsi that is sold this time of year and it is made with sugar instead of HFCS. Corn is forbidden for Jews during Passover because it's a grain. It should be available now because Passover starts March 30.

  4. james42519 says:

    they are still selling both where i live. does this mean they decided not to end it in feb? is it going to be around longer?

  5. ShortyBoo says:

    I miss Pepsi Throwback so much! I was so hoping they'd keep it for good this time, but sure enough, by the time February hit, it was gone and I couldn't find another 12 pack or 20 oz. bottle anywhere. It seemed to be selling just as well this time, maybe better than last time, because it kept disappearing from the stores a day or so after they'd stock it. I didn't even get to stock up on it this time since they kept selling out everywhere. I hope they're planning to bring it back for good and soon.

  6. they are the best tasting drink in the world ive got alot of enjoyment drinking them the pepsi throwback reminds me of the 70s i sure would appreciate the pepsi company if they would continue making them ,not just as a temporary thing but make them avaliable anywhere at any place you go;please do the whole world a favor and keep making the pepsi throwback they are one of a kind and no other drink compares.

  7. I was a little disappointed with the Pepsi Throw Back. Seems like
    somethings is missing. It's ok, but to me, it doesn't taste like the original. I found some Mexican Pepsi (and Coke) at Albertson's and
    I compared it to Throw Back. There is a difference!

  8. If they don't bring it back again along with Mountain Dew Throwback, they are nuts. Then keep it permanently and get rid of all the other crap, such as the seemingly 20 or 30 illegitimate Mt. Dew's and strange tasting (cold medicine) Pepsi Cherry Vanilla.

  9. alleyrulez says:

    does anyone know how this has been selling? I am still seeing 12 packs of this, so I would think the sales aren't as good this time around.

  10. Herb Finn says:

    It's the tail end of August and I can still find the Throwback PEPSI at Several Supermarket chain stores – fresh stock,too!

  11. Herb Finn says:

    2-Ltr that is!

    If you have tried the Pepsi throwback and have wanted to love it more than the usual, but not really thought of it as that much better here is the secret to really tasting the difference.


    let it go flat (gasp), you heard me without the carbonation covering up the taste it's much easier appreciate the differences.

  13. Love the throwback , It is a keeped.

  14. Love the throw back. It is a keeper.
    Don't do away with it .

  15. Looks like Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are here to stay. I found both in 12 packs, 2 litres, and single serve 20oz bottles in the Detroit area today (12/30/2010). They do not say "Limited time only" on them any more. The packaging is for the most part the same but they have added a box with the total calorie count in addition to the standard nutritional facts area.

  16. Dave Baxter says:

    Pepsi throwback is back 1-2-11 just bought every 12 pack they had at Wal=Mart and every Mountain Dew Throwback if PepsiCo had any sense they would make this run permanent they would have me as a permanent buyer

  17. cherie moncrief says:

    keep it coming pepsi,i love throwback! i work at cvs and had to have the pepsi rep order me a case of 2 liters! whever i see it i stock up!

  18. Yes please bring Pepsi Throwback Back to Canada sometimes in 2012
    it's the best soda drink in the world,better then the Blue Cans

  19. This drink is definitely better than the original. Nice review!

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  21. Review: Pepsi Throwback » December 2009 Rerelease » Natural cane & beet sugar Pepsi-Cola without High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) –


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  3. [...] natural bottle of Sprite contains sugar as opposed to HFCS that is in traditional Sprite. With Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback being released earlier in the year I think that Coca-Cola felt like they [...]

  4. [...] you can image a Dr Pepper version of Pepsi Throwback, then you get the right idea about this drink. In fact, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the makers of Dr [...]

  5. [...] be a generic description of either cane sugar, beet sugar, or a mixture. Based on what was used in Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback, and Heritage Dr Pepper, our guess would be that beet sugar or cane/beet [...]

  6. [...] isn't as great, I feel, because we've been blessed by similar drinks in the form of Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback, and Heritage Dr Pepper. But still, as a beverage enthusiast, it was time [...]

  7. [...] it's caffeine free and "made with real sugar." I guess "Real Sugar" needed another friend besides Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback, and Dr Pepper "Made with Real Sugar". "Made with Real [...]

  8. [...] to BevReview, 2009 was the year "we finally saw mainstream reinforcement of the sugar vs. high fructose [...]

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  10. [...] of cane and beet sugars). The Mountain Dew mix is the same that was introduced during the 2nd Wave (December 2009) and used again during the 3rd Wave (Summer/Fall 2010). Those of you who loved [...]

  11. [...] 8th, 2011 by Steve BevReview reader Tim Capper alerted us that Pepsi Throwback is now available north of the border… complete with bilingual packaging. (Photo by Tim [...]

  12. [...] 14th, 2011 by Steve As hinted in our January 7 story announcing the 4th return of Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, on March 11 Pepsi announced via Facebook that the Throwbacks are [...]

  13. [...] our updated Pepsi Throwback review and updated Mountain Dew Throwback review, both featuring revised [...]

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  15. [...] Sugar (bottled by Coke). Of course what got this whole thing started was the rollout of PepsiCo's Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, which after 4 limited edition rereleases, are now permanent parts of [...]

  16. [...] by Steve Throwbacks are the rage these days in the soft drink world, as we've seen with Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew [...]

  17. [...] Soda made the shift in the premium soft drink market, reflected later by mainstream brands such as Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback. We've seen Dr Pepper go that route not once (Heritage), but twice [...]