The ongoing popularity of Mexican Coke and the mishegas around high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS, as the kids say) has led the other big sugar-water makers to actually test out making their drinks with sugar, again. Pepsi Throwback got a pretty good reception, and I was genuinely disappointed the other week when I was unable to buy the Mountain Dew equivalent despite a sign advertising it.
So it was with great excitement that I found a row of Dr. Pepper Throwback cans at a gas station yesterday on my way back up from Atlanta. I should explain that I used to drink a lot of Dr. Pepper: really a lot, this-is-what's-wrong-with-American-diets amounts. Probably for the best, I burned out on it and more generally on soda as a result, but it's a taste that did at one point occupy a pretty big part of many days for me. Therefore, pretty exciting to taste finally what it really should taste like.
And that is? So much better. I'd actually had, uncharacteristically, a regular Dr. Pepper a few days earlier on my way down to Atlanta, so had the flavor still in mind as I popped the can open. The first thing you notice: no chemical escape of Dr. Pepper air freshener flavor, and much, much less carbonation – this is a good thing. The second thing: the sweet and mouthfeel of sugar is just so, so different. In the context of this soda, it means that rather than coating your mouth in a syrupy plaster and finishing with a chemical dry (regular), you can actually taste the flavor of Dr. Pepper: which is nice! The finish is also sweet, smooth and pleasant without being saccharine.
Am I just pretending here? No I am not. This was a really excellent soda. I won't pretend it's good for me (though less-awful than HFCS), but it'd be nice if this were available regularly, or in a fountain, rather than the standard stuff. It's a clearly better product, and I'd pay more for it – at a buck a can, I'm guessing the Dr. Pepper Company is still doing just fine, profit-margin-wise, on its carbonated sugar water with food coloring. But as with a frustrating number of things in contemporary US society, it's easier to rake in a bit more money making a much worse product, and so that's what we'll continue to get.