Review: Citrus Blast


Let's get right to the point… Citrus Blast is Pepsi's version of grapefruit-flavored Squirt, a product of Dr Pepper Snapple Group. It's a blatant knockoff!

Citrus Blast

We've previously reported on the history and speculation regarding the existence of this drink. In short, it's our feeling that Citrus Blast exists solely because both Pepsi and Coke lost distribution rights to Squirt in 2009-10, thus they needed a product to fill the caffeine-free, citrus niche. Coke already offers both Fanta Grapefruit (formerly Fanta Citrus or Citra) and sugar-free Fresca, but Pepsi did not have a comparable product already in the fold.

Citrus Blast

To solve this problem, it would appear that Pepsi spent a total of $51 on the development of Citrus Blast. $50 was given to an intern to steal the formula of Squirt from a bottler, while the final $1 was given to a low-bid designer to come up with the worst possible name and packaging graphics. Seriously, it looks like a cross between a floor cleaner and a generic Mountain Dew copycat from a local supermarket chain.

Citrus Blast

Our review bottle of Citrus Blast came in a standard 20 oz. plastic container, tinted green… just like Squirt. The primary color of the label is bright yellow, with the name of the product pronounced in red… just like Squirt. There are lime green accents, something that looks like a "juice drop," and the graphical interpretation of a grapefruit shape… just like Squirt. Even the font selection parallels the historic style of Squirt prior to its late 2010 redesign. It's pretty obvious where Pepsi got their inspiration. (As far as we know, there isn't a Ruby Red or Citrus Power flavor of Citrus Blast yet… give Pepsi 6 months to fire up the photocopier!)

Squirt label designs
Recent Squirt label designs

Crack open the bottle and you see a cloudy, white-colored beverage… yes, just like Squirt, but also comparable slightly with the likes of Mountain Dew White Out or Canfield's 50/50. You are greeted with a sweet scent that's faintly hinting of lemon, but also has a sharpness associated with the citrus fruits of Florida. Think grapefruit and oranges.

Citrus Blast

Given all of the comparisons we've made between Citrus Blast and Squirt, you probably are wondering about the taste, right? We tested the drinks side-by-side and believe it or not, they aren't exactly the same. The iconic Squirt flavor is sweet, citrusy, and has quite a bit of harsh bite that stings in the back of your throat. In contrast, while Citrus Blast also had the sweet, citrus flavor, it was considerably more smooth than Squirt. Less harsh, more drinkable in a casual context, even with food.

Citrus Blast

The flavor lingers a bit after your initial sip and then eventually fades away in a syrupy aftertaste (it is, after all, sweetened by high fructose corn syrup). Personally, I think this is a missed opportunity for Pepsi to really differentiate the drink vs. Squirt by using sugar, in the vein of Sierra Mist Natural, Pepsi Throwback, and Mountain Dew Throwback. But given the lack of effort they seemed to show in every other aspect of this drink's rollout, do you really think they cared that much about the taste or sweeteners?

Of course, as much grief as we are giving Pepsi for the Xeroxed nature of Citrus Blast, I must admit that it's not a bad tasting drink. Of course, I was already a fan of Squirt, and if you find yourself in that boat, you are going to like Citrus Blast. It's light, airy, and refreshing.

To be honest, the real gamechanger that this drink may be introducing is its artificially-sweetened sibling, Diet Citrus Blast. While Diet Squirt already exists, Pepsi's larger distribution footprint will probably enable Diet Citrus Blast to get a better foothold on the market where Diet Squirt cannot be found. That may be the biggest difference that this drink rollout brings.

So thumbs down to Pepsi for giving absolutely no innovative effort through this Citrus Blast introduction. But thumbs up for a decent tasting, mass marketed citrus drink… that's pretty much tastes like Squirt.

Citrus Blast
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, grapefruit juice concentrate, modified food starch, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), glycerol ester of rosin, natural flavor, potassium sorbate (preserves freshness), calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor)

A 20 oz bottle contains 240 calories, 110 mg sodium, 64 g carbs, and 64 g sugars.

For comparison…

Squirt
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and contains 2% or less of: natural flavors, concentrated grapefruit juice, citric acid, modified food starch, sodium benzoate (preservative), ester gum, brominated vegetable oil, calcium disodium EDTA (preservative)

A 20 oz bottle contains 240 calories, 90 mg sodium, 64 g carbs, and 62 g sugars.

Comments

  1. I'm so glad you reviewed this, I actually just tried it over the weekend. And I liked it! I was surprised by how much I liked it, given how generic it looked. But Squirt doesn't ever seem to be available near me, and I've been looking for a version of Fresca that didn't taste so diet-y forever. Totally agree it would be better with real sugar, but I'm definitely a fan and would get this again.

  2. Let's see HOW LONG Pepsi will be committed to this product! Let's see if they bottle it in more convienent 12-paks! As you will see, if you trackback to a previous website; Pepsi and Coke can't figure out good alternatives to existing product. This product, Citrus Blast is neither innovative or different. And, as I said, won't be around in 12 months. BUT CAFFEINE FREE Mountain Dew WOULD be a marketing alternative OR…Coca Cola should decaffinate their poorly selling Mello-Yello (a Mountain Dew knock-off), and have better sales than currently by offering a product that is a citrus 'no-caffeine alternative to Mountain Dew. There are now millions of consumers in America that are doctor ordered to not drink caffeine. I guarantee a larger market than Mello-Yello has now trying to compete near exactly as Mountain Dew.

  3. Why doesn't BevReview.com do a review on Diet Mountain Dew Voltage and Supernova.Also, Citrus Blast just tastes like a load of powder and not enough grapefruit taste along with the citrus taste

  4. I haven't tried Citrus Blast, but there is definitely a better alternative to Fresca. In my opinion, the Safeway Select Diet Grapefruit soda kicks Fresca's fruity booty.

  5. I've tried Citrus Blast yesterday. I thought it tasted good.

  6. does squirt taste like fresca

  7. I have been looking hi and lo in my area for Squirt with horrible results. I love that Squirt cleanses my palate after each bite… so cool and refreshing! To be without Squirt was like being a fish without a water. Then I stumble upon this blast of citrus- and I was instatntly taken back to my days of Squirt happiness. There isn't much of an after-sting that Squirt produces but beggars will not be choosers. If Pepsi will distribute this in my area and Dr. P will not, I will be forced to jump ship. In my mind, long-live this copycat goodness!!!

  8. Being from the midwest I always loved Squirt. Unfortunately, it has NEVER been available where I've been in Virginia for 22 years. I spotted the Pepsi product, tried it, and declare it a winner. If I can't get the original, I'll happily accept this new alternative. Now if Vernor's would arrange distribution here….

  9. They should really think about labelling this product as a 'Grapefruit' soda, not Citrus! was less than happy when I ended up throwing out a case of this stuff. Even my daughters, who love grapefruit, hated it.

  10. I am a fan!! I like the citrus flavored sodas and had resorted to fresca,but stopped drinking it because of the aspartame now there is, finally a non-diet soda that I can enjoy since squirt doesn`t exist anymore!

  11. There is method to Pepsi's madness. I don't know about you but when I shop down the beverage isle at the local market I do a quick scan of shelves not a detailed analysis of every bottle. What caught my eye was the "Squirt-alike" look of Pepsi's Citrus Blast 2 liter bottle. I thought to myself, finally Squirt has arrived (thinking a name change or maybe some type of marketing agreement). It didn't matter, I finally had a drink that is comparable, if not better, than Squirt. I've been burned in the past by Pepsico's short lived products that I actually enjoyed but suddenly had pulled from the shelves. I can only hope that Citrus Blast will hang around for a little while. If not for itself then to shake up the Squirt folks into expanding their distribution to more areas. Right now Pepsi gets two thumbs up!!

  12. Moccasin says:

    I'm like all those other migrants who've enjoyed Squirt but haven't been able to find it where they live now. (I'm in Alabama, where Squirt is not sold.) I saw a bottle of Citrus Blast at a convenience store — I think it was on I-40 in Arkansas, but maybe eastern Oklahoma. I am always on the lookout for Squirt, hoping its marketing will expand into my state; so I tried the Citrus Blast on a whim. It had less bite but was otherwise a good match. Citrus Blast would be a staple in my household since we can't get Squirt, but, unfortunately, Citrus Blast isn't sold in my state either.

  13. ED OF TENNESSEE says:

    Finally PEPSICO comes out with a soft drink that I like a lot !!!!! The others taste like CRAP, except for Mountain Dew (which is good); especially BAD is Pepsi Cola !!! Now I am hearing from the Pepsi man at Wal-Mart, here in Tennessee, that Pepsi is no longer going to be making CITRUS BLAST. Leave it to STUPID PEPSICO to put out a FANTASTIC TASTING SODA, and when it did not make them $100 billion in the first month, they take it off the market !!!! These ignorant rich morons need to get the stars out of their head and let a new product get a good start in the market, slowly; instead of pulling it off the shelves just as people are starting to buy it…..This agenda is typical college grad stuff;…..intelligent at some things (maybe), but absolutely no COMMON SENSE with others !!!! PEPSICO, get real and re-introduce Citrus Blast like a SMART PERSON would do.
    ED OF TENNESSEE

  14. juanita says:

    It is totally awesome drink. I just wish it was more available in our area. I used to drink diet Mt.Dew but this is way better without the caffeine.

  15. I have always been a Squirt Fan. It has always been available in Michigan. I have tried Fresca, – not quite up to my tastes. I saw Citrus Blast, on sale, tried it, and loved it! FYI, Faygo also makes a great Citrus Soda called 60/40! Don't forget – FAYGO…REMEMBERS!

  16. Where is CITRUS BLAST? Not to be found anywhere. No stores have it in stock.
    Is it DISCONTINUED?

  17. B-Rizzle says:

    I don't see it around here anymore. It's been a long time since I've seen it around here.

  18. I will try Citrus Blast if I can find it. Nothing really compares to Squirt, which also isn't available in TN, AL, or GA. I stock up in NE when we go visit relatives there, who also suggested Mello Yello might come closest in our area.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 26th, 2011 by Steve Update: Read our review of Citrus Blast and discover that it does taste like [...]

  2. [...] and Distinctiveness This is an interesting area, because a look at Squirt's competitors (Pepsi's Citrus Blast, Coke's Fanta Grapefruit, Fresca, and Canfield's 50/50) reveals that they are all basically playing [...]

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