As far as brands and products in pop culture go, Pepsi Cola is one of the biggies. It’s legendary, iconic, popular and known around the world. One of the ways to keep a brand fresh year after year is to reinvent itself through experimentation and innovation. For Pepsi, that can take on a major form, like logo redesigns, slogan changes or adding a new flavour to their line-up. It can also come in smaller forms, like tie-in merchandising or launching limited-time or region-specific flavours.
And that’s where we’re going today. Pepsi is no stranger to the limited edition (or short-lived) flavour-game, and since this holiday season they opted to foist upon the public a little treat known as Salted Caramel Pespi (just the idea makes me shudder), I thought it might be a good time to look back at some of the highlights of Pespi’s infamous flavour history to see just where Salted Caramel ranks the list of Wow! To WTF?
To start things off, I think I should point out that this is not the first caramel flavoured Pepsi product! (It’s also not the first to have a “salt” flavour – but more on that later). That distinction goes to Caramel Cream, part of the Pepsi Jazz line of diet Pepsi drinks available from 2006-2009. The other flavours (at launch) included Strawberries and Cream and Black Cherry French Vanilla (which sounds like they couldn’t decide on whether Black Cherry or French Vanilla should be the third flavour and someone finally said – “eh, just mix ‘em together”).
And it’s also not the first Christmas-themed Pepsi. The cinnamon-tinged Pepsi Holiday Spice debuted in 2004 and the nutmeg-and-cocoa flavoured Christmas Pepsi appeared in 2007 and 2008. Both sound much more appealing than Salted Caramel Pepsi.
Now let’s dig deeper and see what other random acts of flavour Pepsi has committed in the past:
Pepsi Blue and Crystal Pepsi
A list of Pepsi flavours wouldn’t be complete without these two Pepsi failures. The fruity, blue-coloured Pepsi Blue was an insta-pass with consumers and Crystal Pepsi’s big thing (that it was Pepsi…only clear), was a big miss as well.
Pepsi Tropical Chill, Strawberry Burst and Raging Razzberry
Nothing says “90s” more than this trio of flavours that never made it out of test markets in 1991. From the can design to the naming convention, these seemed like Pepsi’s misguided attempt to market “outrageous attitude” in a can.
Pepsi Cappucino – one of many coffee-flavoured Pepsis, this one is only available in Russia and parts of Europe. Which is a perfect segue to…
Pepsi Goes International
Here’s where things start going off the rails. We’re going around the world – so get your Pepsi passport ready for some distinctly different stamps flavours.
Pepsi Samba (Australia)
“Tropical flavoured” Pepsi with mango and tamarind
Pepsi Boom (Germany)
Pepsi with no caffeine, no sugar and no artificial sweeteners (aka “no-fun Pepsi”)
Pepsi Green (Thailand)
Thailand’s answer to Pepsi Blue + Crystal Pepsi. A green-coloured Pepsi that tastes just like…Pepsi
Pepsi Ice Cream (Russia)
Apparently it tastes like cream soda, but why give your Pepsi a known beverage flavour when you can name it after a dessert food instead? (Mmm…I could really go for a Glazed Donut Pepsi, right now)
And now for the international all-star. Japan is playing the Pepsi game on a whole ‘nother level, y’all. This is but a mere sampling of the whacked-out concoctions they have filling their store’s Pepsi-branded shelves and cooling units:
Pepsi Salty Watermelon
See? I told you salt would be making a reappearance!
A Halloween limited edition “mystery” flavour. Spooky, indeed.
Pepsi Blue Hawaii
Blending together the natural flavours of lemon and pineapple and blue.
For those people who prefer a Pespi that tastes like yogurt and looks like Alka-seltzer.
Well, congratulations Japan, you did it. Suddenly, Salted Caramel Pepsi doesn’t seem that crazy anymore.