The Missouri county where I grew up once had the noble distinction of having the highest per capita consumption of Pepsi-Cola in the world. I know the reason.
Sugar water tastes good. Not all sugar waters are created equal. Pepsi is best.
To be fair, I’ll acknowledge that Coca-Cola is more popular on a world-wide basis, though I suspect that Pepsi-Cola is a close second in many areas. For some, there may not be much difference between the two, if any notable difference at all. In reality, there’s a big difference.
There’s such a difference between the two that Pepsi enjoyed winning the famous taste tests for many years. Why? Pepsi would always win because, to an average drinker, it tastes better than Coke. There’s such a difference between the two that Coke changed their formula a number of years ago to taste more like Pepsi. That ineffective effort is considered one of the classic marketing mistakes of all time.
There was such a public uproar over the change to a sweeter Coke (a feature of which Pepsi has more) that the original Coke, which was planned to be dropped, became Classic Coca-Cola or Coke Classic. Eventually, the new Coke formula disappeared entirely.
While I’m not certain that Coke hasn’t quietly and slowly changed their taste formula to more closely resemble Pepsi’s taste, I can be certain that I can tell the difference between the two.
I can even smell the difference?
There can only be one reason. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a county that obviously revered the best-tasting cola (that would be Pepsi), so I know what the best is. Everything else is not.
Coke has a distinct flavor, a sharper texture, a strong buzz and a less delicate aftertaste. So does Pepsi, except it’s more appealing– a more friendly texture, a compelling buzz, and a sweeter aftertaste– which is why it usually wins the taste tests.
My early exposure to soft drinks (RC Cola, Nehi Grape and Root Beer, Orange Crush, Seven Up, Coke, Pepsi, Coke and others) was from a bottle. The small Coca-Cola bottles at eight ounces, and the Pepsi-Cola bottles at 10 and 12 ounces. Cola bottled in glass has a distinctly different taste than cola bottled in plastic, cans, or over the counter in a fountain drink. For many years, glass bottle Pepsi provided the best taste.
To achieve a ‘best taste’ scenario, Pepsi may be poured over a glass of small ice (fine crushed is not as good as larger chunks which should be smaller than traditional ice cubes) until the ice just begins to rise.
Then, to maintain that best taste you should drink until there’s no more Pepsi in the glass. Do not add ice. Simply pour more Pepsi into the glass until the ice rises again; just a bit. Repeat as needed.
All colas should be chilled at least overnight, and preferably a full 24 hours. Why? It tastes better when chilled properly, and dumped into a cooler with ice for a couple of hours is not sufficient to bring out the proper taste, and the right amount of chilled fizz.
It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Pepsi in a glass bottle. I was introduced to Pepsi in cans while a teenager. Pepsi in a chilled can more closely approximates the classic taste from a glass bottle, yet still differs from fountain and bottles (plastic bottles are for amateurs).
My palate is sufficiently sensitive that, not only can I tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke, I can also tell whether it’s from can or plastic or fountain, and how long it’s been chilled; overnight vs. hours, vs. over 24 hours. Is it important to be able to tell such differences? Yes, of course. Is there a difference between Kentucky Fried Chicken and Popeye’s? Yes. Is there a difference between Blue Bunny ice cream and Haagen-Dazs ice cream? Yes.
So it is with Pepsi and Coke. There’s a difference. Pepsi is better. How about a comparison of Pepsi and RC Cola? Ahh, that’s another story.