Review: Sunkist Ten

We reviewed Dr Pepper Ten back in February 2011 when it was still being test marketed. Since then, Ten was expanded nationwide and according to the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, has been a success. A Wall Street Journal article from December 2011 outlined what was next for the Ten franchise:

…Starting as early as January, the company will start testing 7Up Ten, Sunkist Ten, A&W Ten and Canada Dry Ten in Columbus, Ohio, Des Moines, Iowa, and central Pennsylvania. It will also test RC Ten, a cola, in Chicago, Evansville, Ind., and Des Moines.

Thus, it appears that “Ten” is DPSG’s response to Coke’s “Zero” and Pepsi’s “Max” franchises. Let’s take a look at the first of these new Tens, Sunkist Ten.

Sunkist Ten

In our Dr Pepper Ten review, we felt that it didn’t taste better than what was already a quality reduced calorie drink, Diet Dr Pepper. Many BevReview readers disagreed with our perceptive, and let us know accordingly in the comments (thanks for your passion, everyone!) For this review, we sampled Sunkist Ten alongside Diet Sunkist to get a similar comparison.

The Ten Lineup

As part of the Ten line extension, it’s obvious that Sunkist Ten borrowed some heavy design cues from Dr Pepper Ten. First off is the use of the gunmetal grey color, which apparently is DPSG’s version of Coke Zero’s black color. This is combined with the orange style and logo typically associated with Sunkist. The addition of the “TEN” label is the same style at Dr Pepper Ten, though it feels more tacked on and less organically added when compared to the flagship. Instead of proclaiming “10 Bold Tasting Calories,” Sunkist Ten simply offers “10 Great Tasting Calories.” And for those questioning the math on Dr Pepper Ten’s calorie count vs. the calories/ounce proclamations, we can thank the confusing calculations of the FDA’s Rounding Rules, which oddly allow for drinks with less than 5 calories to report as “0 calories”, while those with 50 calories or less need to round to the nearest 5 calorie increment — thus how the same drink can have zero calories in one size but non-zero calories in another. Confused yet?

Like Diet Sunkist, Sunkist Ten is sweetened with both aspartame and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K). Ten also has the addition of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to round out its sweetener profile, which DPSG argues adds the ability to better portray the original full-calorie flavor of these drinks. Crack open a can of Sunkist Ten and it smells like your typical orange soda. The bright orange color is also in line with what you’ve come to find with Sunkist.

As for the flavor, the initial sip is dead-on for Sunkist. It’s sweet, syrupy, and bold. But with any diet drink, the details are really in the aftertaste. You can definitely tell that this is a non-full-calorie beverage. The aspartame and Ace-K are obvious. Orange is one of the easier drinks to mask artificial sweeteners in, and Sunkist Ten doesn’t disappoint in this area. You can tell the sweeteners are there, but they aren’t too distorting. The aftertaste lingers a bit and then disappears. This flavor experience is in contrast to Diet Sunkist, which tends to taste fake from the start. Whereas Sunkist Ten tastes like the original in the beginning of the taste experience and then transitions to artificial, Diet Sunkist feels artificial throughout. When it comes to most closely resembling the original, Sunkist Ten is the winner (of course, it also has more calories than Diet Sunkist, which features 0 per serving).

Sunkist Ten
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium citrate, malic acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), aspartame, modified food starch, natural flavors, acesulfame potassium, caffeine, ester gum, Yellow 6, Red 40

A 12 oz can contains 10 calories, 130 mg sodium, and 2 g carbs (2 g sugars). Caffeine content is 3.42 mg/oz. (For comparison, Mountain Dew contains 4.5 mg/oz.)

For those interested in a comparison…

Diet Sunkist
Carbonated water, citric acid, sodium citrate, malic acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), aspartame, modified food starch, acesulfame potassium, natural flavors, caffeine, ester gum, Yellow 6, Red 40

A 12 oz can contains 0 calories, 128 mg sodium, and 0 g carbs (0 g sugars). Caffeine content is 3.38 mg/oz.

In the end, Sunkist Ten brings a more authentic Sunkist flavor compared to Diet Sunkist. If you are looking for a lower calorie orange soft drink, Ten is what you seek.

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