Friday, July 15, 2011

Coke vs. Pepsi: An in-depth comparison, Part 1

The two major contenders in the soft drink world-Coke and Pepsi. A rivalry so deeply seated in our psyche that their modern packaging even reflects the rivalry in it's colors-red and blue. Coca Cola carries one of the most universally recognized logos, and Pepsi consistently beats Coke in taste tests.
I, personally, am a Coke fan. Always have been, always will be. However, the flagship pops in their respective corporate empires each have their own unique taste for both being colas, are hardly ever copied by the generics, and each definitely have their strong points. That's what I wish to explore.
Being such a connoisseur of sodas, I have noticed many similarities, and those things which make Coke and Pepsi quite distinct from each other, and where one is flat out better then the other in their respective categories.
Let's start with the basics-packaging. Coca-cola has a very distinct bottle shape, and it should-it was designed in such a way that a person would recognize a coke bottle from every other bottle, even amongst debris when shattered on the ground. The glass bottle also carried a quite distinct greenish color. While the green color didn't translate over to the plastic bottles, the shape certainly did, and recently the company even redesigned their 2 liter bottles to reflect that brand recognizable shape as well. Then there's the label-bright, firetruck red. It catches your eye from across the store, and the brand name is easily recognizable at a distance with it's flowing font and stark white contrast against the firetruck red field.
Flavored versions-
I love Vanilla Coke, and it's still readily available. However, as a whole, Pepsi is hands down the victor in the "added flavor department". Pepsi Vanilla was delicious, Pepsi Lime was tasty without carrying that weird, dish soap flavor that Coke Lime has, and Wild Cherry Pepsi is far superior to Cherry Coke. In addition, I've tasted better Cherry Colas from store brands(I'm looking at you, Meijer Cherry Cola) then Cherry Coke. I think the biggest reason behind this is that Coke has a very complex, rich and distinct flavor onto itself. When you start adding in other things, it tends to take away from that complexity. Pepsi, on the other hand, tastes sweet and flat. There's a lot to be desired from the vaguely citrus, cinnamon rich flavor of Pepsi-and adding flavors to that helps dial it up a few notches. They only work to enhance the sweetness of the drink, and Coke's added flavors try to distract you from it. I only wish Pepsi Vanilla were still around.
There was also an "added flavor" Pepsi that was never labelled as Pepsi, and it was a personal favorite of mine. I was such a big fan, in fact, that I will say it qualifies as my first addiction, so to speak. I'm talking of course, about Josta. That ill-fated, obscure fruity soda that tried to be an energy drink before energy drinks were on the market. It was caffeinated like the other sodas, but had a kick of guarana to push it to the levels of caffeine usually only found in coffee. What was the added flavor, you may ask? Well, besides the guarana(which is a distinct flavor in and of it's own right), it had a dragonfruit flavor as well. I didn't know what it was at the time, but everyday after school I would walk to either the local gas station or Tackacs' meat market and buy a 20 oz. It was usually chugged before I got home. Jesus christ I wish Josta were still on the market.Save Josta! <--go here to sign the petition to bring Josta back.

There's more to this comparison, and I'll get to it as soon as possible-coming up, which is better from the fountain? Which is better with cane sugar? Caffeine free? Diet?

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