Review: A&W Ten

The third stop in our look at the 2nd Generation of "Ten" flavors from Dr Pepper Snapple Group brings us to A&W Ten, having previously explored Sunkist Ten and 7Up Ten. These products, along with Canada Dry Ten and RC Ten, are currently in testing following the successful launch of Dr Pepper Ten.

A&W Ten

As any soft drink enthusiast knows, root beer can be quite subjective. We all have our favorites and those, well, we don't like as much. Sometimes our decisions are influenced by the simple fact that a flavor can be found everywhere (see Coke's dominance of the fountain world and how they tend to always feature Barq's Root Beer). Others have more nostalgic audiences, such as can be found around the A&W brand. I know as a kid, I remember being on vacation and stopping at a A&W Drive In for food, root beer, and a great collectible mug!

As Dr Pepper Snapple Group looked at adding more to their "Ten" franchise, the choice of A&W was probably a no brainer, given that it's one of the "mainstream" root beer flavors that everyone is familiar with (heck, the company even owns!) The fact that diet drinks are on a nice growth spurt while full calories beverages decline also probably factored heavy into adding A&W as a "Ten" brand.

The Ten Lineup

Like the other 2nd generation "Ten" flavors, A&W Ten borrows from the design cues of Dr Pepper Ten, namely with the use of a grey color on the label. Though, unlike the rather odd juxtaposition found on Sunkist Ten and 7Up Ten, the addition of grey to the orange/brown color scheme of A&W actually works really well. It's a sharp looking package! As established in the "Ten" lineup, the packaging proclaims that A&W Ten offers "10 Great Tasting Calories." We've got 3 sweeteners at play here: aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

As we have done with some of our other Ten reviews, we tasted A&W Ten side-by-side with Diet A&W, stacking both up against regular A&W to best gauge the differences. Part of the appeal of the Ten line is to lure non-diet drinkers (a.k.a. Men) into trying something low-calorie. Right off the bat, one of the notable changes is the amount of foam that is produced when the product is poured into a glass. We found Diet A&W to be quite a bit more foamy than both A&W and A&W Ten. On the other hand, A&W Ten had a sweeter scent than Diet A&W, but not like the sweet/bitter combo in original A&W. Diet A&W was mostly bitter in scent overall.

Regarding flavor, when you first drink Diet A&W, it's pretty obvious that it's an artificially sweetened drink. I find that those sweeteners compete with the root beer flavor a bit, producing a mixed taste message. On the other than, A&W Ten tastes a lot like the flagship when you first sample it, though the pleasant "harshness" associated with the original is muted a bit in the Ten iteration. A&W has always been on the sweeter side of root beers, and that's reflected here. That sweetness frontloads A&W Ten, delaying the realization that this isn't a full calorie drink. Your taste buds are like "hey, this is pretty good, wow… oh wait… hey, are you trying to fool me?"

In the grand scheme of things, A&W Ten is far superior to Diet A&W when it comes to tasting more like the full calorie original. It's not as "birchy" as regular A&W; rather, it's more creamy. The sweetness and flavor are great out of the gate, and only later do you realize that there are artificial sweeteners in play. Still, I felt that Sunkist Ten and 7Up Ten both did superior jobs of hiding the negative elements typically associated with diet drinks. A&W Ten tries, but doesn't succeed as well as its sibling Tens. Still, it's light years better than what Diet A&W tastes like, and presents a better entry point for a lower calorie alternative.

A&W Ten
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural and artificial flavors, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, malic acid, quillaia extract

A 12 oz can contains 10 calories, 80 mg sodium, and 3 g carbs (2 g sugars). Caffeine free.

For those interested in a comparison…

Diet A&W
Carbonated water, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), aspartame, acesulfame potassium, natural and artificial flavors, malic acid, quillaia extract

A 12 oz can contains 0 calories, 108 mg sodium, and 0 g carbs (0 g sugars). Caffeine free.

In conclusion, A&W Ten is better than Diet A&W when it comes to tasting closest to the original. It's not perfect, and the frontloaded flavor only fools your tastebuds to a point, but it's an appreciable effort!

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  1. This & Canada Dry Ten sounds the most interesting of the new 2nd generation 10 "flavors" to try.

  2. I'm drinking one right now as I read this. Sadly, it is the last one from the case. :(

  3. The Canada Dry Ginger Ale Ten is a pure winner, if you like ginger ale. It makes a perfect mixer much like the 7UP Ten. I finally found some A&W Root Beer Ten and I'm on the fence… neither love or hate it. It IS superior to the diet version as reviewed. I still prefer Mug Diet Root Beer to A&W's taste though.

  4. Katawna Heida says:


  5. What happened to this product? It was amazing. It was the only low-cal soft drink I really enjoyed & now it's suddenly gone from all supermarket shelves. I've lost 15 lbs since I've found out about A&W Ten, and now that's it's gone, I fear that I may stop losing that weight. I've gone from store to store trying to buy what they have left, but each place I go doesn't even have a place for it on their shelves anymore. Yet, some of the other "Ten" drinks are still there. Auuugggghhhh!!!! What the heck?

  6. I just tried this. It tastes good. I didn't taste the sweetness at first.

  7. Hey, look out! All that salt/sodium can cause your tissues to swell. I noticed it first in my hands.

  8. @dave. how about drinking water.

  9. loved a&w 10 root beer where can I get it again please send me locations

  10. I am located in NE PA and about 2 months ago A&W 10 showed up at one of my local grocery stores. I bought a 12 pack and really like it so went back and bought a few more 12 packs. Feb 15, 2013 and it is gone! I sure hope they stock it again soon. This is the 1st low calorie drink I look forward to have to quench my thirst.

  11. I bought one today to give it a try, this was honestly one of the worst drinks i have drank, im gonna stick with regular A&W root beer

  12. the only place ive found A&W Ten is at Target

  13. Why change!
    A & W was the best out of all root beers, I don't think I would buy again.

  14. A&w 10 is awesome… rootbeer floats are as good as regular, I hope they keep it

  15. Gum Parker says:

    I just lost my supply of A&W Ten where I live (South Eastern WV). I have lost 30 pounds switching from Cola to Dr. Pepper Ten, then I found A&W Ten… wow! A&W Ten is the best of the "Ten" calorie products yet! IMHO. It all ended in our test market at the end of June. I have 1 can left & a 2 liter… I'm saving them like fine wine in my soda cellar.

  16. This stuff is THE BOMB!! I LOVE it!!!

  17. I tried Sunkist 10, A&W 10 and Dr. Pepper 10. A&W and Sunkist are my fav's. However if there was a PIbb 10 I would drink that. I am not much of a Dr. Pepper fan as much I am a Mr. Pibb or Pibb Extra fan

  18. Santa Cruz Love says:

    A&W 10, besides the better taste it is still Caffeine Free. And that's why it is one of the few root beers in our home.

  19. B L Brown says:

    Best tasting low caloric, low sugar drinks I have EVER had. Wonderful, and much better in taste than their diet, zero calorie counterparts. I am partial to the A & W 10, and the Sunkist 10, but will drink the 7-Up ten if it is all I can find. I love regular Dr. Pepper, but for some reason I don't like taste of Dr. Pepper 10…it tastes like the diet Dr. Pepper to me. Haven't tried RC-10 or Canada Dry-10. Saw one comment mention swelling in hands, and this worries me. Will take cans in to my next doctor visit and inquire.


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