Review: Big Red Zero


The other day a package arrived with some mysterious silver cans. They were adorned with stickers proclaiming that Big Red Zero was inside. Per the attached note, "you are among the first to try Big Red Zero. These silver can samples came from our first production run." Well, that makes us feel rather special, I'll admit. Let's see what this stuff is all about!

Big Red Zero
Big Red Zero
(Source: Artwork via Big Red; Photo Manipulation by BevReview)

Per Becky Ozuna at Big Red, Big Red Zero will be replacing the current Diet Big Red offering. The press materials state that "we've tweaked our diet formula to bring you the sweet, smooth Big Red taste you know and love… with zero calories."

Diet Big Red vs. Big Red Zero
Diet Big Red vs. Big Red Zero
(Source Images: Big Red. Comparison by BevReview)

When you compare the ingredient lists side-by-side, you'll note there are differences. Probably the most obvious is that while Diet Big Red was artificially sweetened by sucralose and Ace-K, new Big Red Zero features 3 sweeteners: sucralose, Ace-K, and aspartame.

Big Red Zero
Carbonated water, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sucralose, sodicum benzoate, caffeine, malic acid, Red 40, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, phosphoric acid, and acacia gum

For a 20 oz. bottle, there are 0 calories, 30 mg sodium, and 0 g carbs (0 g sugars).

Diet Big Red
Carbonated water, sucralose, natural and artificial flavor, caffeine, sodium benzoate, Red 40, malic acid, and acesulfame potassium

For a 20 oz. bottle, there are 0 calories, 50 mg sodium, and 0 g carbs (0 g sugars).

Of course, we've never reviewed Diet Big Red, so unfortunately we are unable to perform a side-by-side flavor test to see which is the preferred taste. No doubt you'll have to discover this on your own.

Big Red Zero (Production Can)
Production can next to the Beverage Tree

Having been sent production samples, the full artwork and labeling was not in place, though those were provided separately. Through the magic of Photoshop, we've situated a can of Big Red Zero near our famous "Beverage Tree". It looks a lot better than a generic silver can, that's for sure!

Of note is that Zero borrows from the established color of "Zero" drinks that Coke first popularized: black. This is a nice branding improvement from the look/feel of Diet Big Red. It's not exactly innovative, but the message is clearly understood.

Big Red Zero (Production Cans)
Production can samples of Big Red Zero

So that's the market positioning of Big Red Zero. How about the taste? Our original review of high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Big Red described the drink as follows:

Your beginning sip is subdued, but as Big Red washes over your tongue, the extreme sweetness of the drink really stands out. At this point, the bubble gum-ness of the taste becomes apparent as it flows off into a sweet aftertaste. It's syrupy overall, attributed to the non-natural flavor selection and the use of high fructose corn syrup. Overall, the experience is about what you would expect from a red creme soda-type flavor. Very sweet, gum-like, and syrupy.

With this as our basis, I wanted to see how the Zero version compared, especially for those looking to shave calories from their beverage consumption.

The first sip of Zero is pretty much on par with the original. Very sweet. The initial flavor (red creme, bubble gum) was also present. And then that expected artificial sweetener aftertaste kicked in. I'd say it's quite noticeable if you aren't familiar with the taste and texture of diet beverages. If your mouth has already been desensitized to such things, then you are really going to love Big Red Zero, because the flavor profile is pretty accurate. It's the tradeoff you get when you go the diet route, unfortunately (something even the newer stevia-sweetened drinks haven't perfected).

If you are a standard Big Red connoisseur and jump over to Big Red Zero, it may be more shocking for you, as is typically the case with a full calorie vs. no calorie drink comparison. Big Red has such a unique flavor already, so my gut is that we're going to have polar opposites who either love or hate this new rendition. There will be no middle ground.

For a zero calorie drink, Big Red Zero lives up to the name of the original. Heck, it even still packs a lot of caffeine at 3.12 mg/oz. The use of sucralose, Ace-K, and aspartame is hard to miss, but if you can overcome the artificial sweetener perceptions, than you are in for a treat.

Official Website: BigRed.com

Full Disclosure: This beverage was provided compliments of Big Red
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Comments

  1. Rhonda McAfee says:

    When is big red zero going to make its demut in Indiana?

  2. I want Diet Big Red back….I'm sad its gone. It was my favorite soda of all time.

  3. I hate Big Red Zero. Worse aftertaste than Diet Big Red and it contains aspertaime which is highly toxic to some of us. I'm really, really disappointed that I'll have to switch to another diet beverage.

  4. diet big red is so much better than big red zero. BRZ has such a strange aftertaste. Please Keep Diet Big Red!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I hate the Big Red Zero. It has a terrible diet aftertaste. That is why I loved Diet Big Red. It used only sucralose (Splenda) for the sweetner which made it not have the diet aftertaste that you get from aspertame. Can't they learn the mistakes from "New Coke". Don't change what everyone already loves!!!! Give me back Diet Big Red!!!!

  6. Diet Big Red actually used 2 sweeteners: sucralose and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K).

    Big Red Zero uses 3: sucralose, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and aspartame

  7. Lenn Nelsen says:

    Give me back Diet Big Red!
    It tastes closer to the original than the new poser.
    The poser, Big Red Zero, lacks the bubble gum punch and subtle strawberry flavor of Diet Big Red.

  8. Who is the brain dead person who thought we would all go willingly over to the Big Red Zero. No where close to the taste of Diet Big Red. Will not be buying the new Zero! Sadly missing Diet Big Red!

  9. Billy winkly says:

    Perfect this stuff is Great!! I stopped drinking diet big red due to the fact that it tasted like regular Big red watterd down with splenda. Everything was an improvement from the black label to the taste which taste just like Big red without sugar. I have now found a new option. I think some just cant handle change even when its for the better! Way to go makers of BIG RED ZERO!!

  10. buelachaz says:

    when are you going to bring BIG RED ZERO TO DEL RIO, TEXAS. THEY HAVE IN CANS BUT I WANT IT IN THE BOTTLE. THANKS

  11. Sadly missing diet big red. Very much dislike the after taset of Big Red zero. I will no longer be drinking this product – back to Diet Coke.

  12. I don't get Big Red much, since they don't sell it in this area, but used to like to order me a couple of cases of Diet Big Red online. Hadn't done so in awhile, and was looking forward to grabbing a couple of cases while i'm in Tennessee for the NASCAR race next month. Now, i'm going to have to try me a can of this "Big Red Zero" to see if it's even worth it. I hope I am not disappointed. Sounds like I might be, though. Why not have a Diet Big Red AND Big Red Zero, ala Coke?

  13. Amy Uebelhor says:

    I NEED Diet Big Red back!! Can't drink Big Red Zero due to Aspartame!

  14. Darrell Willard says:

    Big Red Zero is NASTY.. I tried it and the after taste was more than I could stand. If this is what you are going to keep then I can say I will not be buying anymore Big Red Products.. Bring Back My Diet Big Red.

  15. Taste like cough medicine…

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