Back in 2009, Dr Pepper Snapple Group reformulated Cherry 7Up — and effectively ruined it — by launching Cherry 7Up Antioxidant. The light, cherry-infused flavor was dumped in favor of a heavy, syrup-laden mess of a drink. But guess what? The antioxidants are now gone and we have a new version of 7Up Cherry to try. Did they fix the drink?
Depending on who you ask, there are different stories regarding this change in Cherry 7Up. For example, if you were to ask Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG), they'd tell you it was "decided to re-label and reformulate 7UP Cherry… to be consistent with the formulation and appearance of other 7UP products." If you were to ask The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which filed a lawsuit against DPSG, noting that "the antioxidant claim is both misleading, since it gives the impression that the antioxidants come from the pictured healthful fruits, and illegal, since Food and Drug Administration regulations prohibit fortifying nutritionally worthless snack foods and beverages with nutrients," they'd say that the drink is changing to remove legal issues.
It should be noted that this isn't the first time DPSG has run afoul of CSPI. Back in 2006, the group threatened to sue over the claims that 7UP was "100% Natural," despite containing high fructose corn syrup. DPSG's labeling was later changed to say "100% Natural Flavors."
In any case, we get a new version of 7Up Cherry! The drink arrives in DGSG's Legacy bottle packaging, and once again is light pink in color. Scent hints at cherry, but is very sweet, almost like SweetTarts candy. Carbonation is high. Initial taste is light, but sweet. The lemon lime flavor is more accentuated in this version, reflecting what we previously saw with the last reformulation of 7Up back in 2010; a good thing overall. The cherry really kicks in during the mid- and aftertastes. There's still a bit of syrupy texture to the flavor, but "light and crisp" comes to mind when trying to describe the overall experience. The new Cherry has 5 mg less sodium and 1 g less sugars when compared to the Antioxidant version. Without being able to compare an older pre-Antioxidant Cherry 7Up, it's hard to note how it stacks up, however I feel the new drink is an improvement over the previous version, while not quite being the excellent product that was the original.
I don't really think adding vitamins and antioxidants to a product was especially innovative, thus I'm not sad to see the Cherry 7up Antioxidant be retired. DPSG's launch of their "Ten" products were far more groundbreaking. Once wonders if we'll eventually see a Cherry 7Up Ten someday.
Overall, the 2013 reformulation of Cherry 7Up is an improvement over the previous 2009 incarnation. It's not bad for a mainstream release, though we still have to tip our preference to Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash for those looking for flavored lemon lime alternatives (plus, it has "real sugar" vs. Cherry 7Up's HFCS). Or, if you really want a treat, track down a bottle of Boylan Shirley Temple Soda to taste how this type of drink is done right.
Filtered carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, potassium benzoate (preservative), natural flavors, red 40
A 20 oz bottle contains 240 calories, 65 mg of sodium, and 64 g carbs (62 g sugars).
For comparison, here are the ingredients in the previous version of this drink:
Cherry 7Up Antioxidant
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and contains 2% of less of each of the following: citric acid, natural flavors, potassium benzoate (preservative), vitamin E acetate, red 40
A 20 oz bottle contains 240 calories, 70 mg of sodium, and 64 g carbs (63 g sugars).