Thursday, August 16, 2012

Paradise Mango Pepsi Next

I have been meaning to review Pepsi Next for quite some time now. I actually tried Pepsi Next not long after it came out a few months ago, and I wish that I had reviewed it on the spot. But, like so many other things in my life right now, I just never quite got around to it. However, there is some good in my putting it off, as now I essentially get to present two drinks at once.

Today's review, as you can tell by the picture, is of one of Pepsi's new flavors of Pepsi Next. When Pepsi first introduced the Next brand, I did not realize that they were planning on releasing flavored versions, so finding these on the shelf was a bit of a surprise. What surprised me even more, however, was finding a mango flavored Pepsi Next on the shelf. As a beverage flavor, mango has been rising sharply in popularity over the past several years, and although I personally find it to be a rather "hit or miss" flavor, I have grown accustomed to seeing it all over the place. However, this was the first time that I have seen mango in a cola, and I was genuinely taken aback to find it sitting next to a more pedestrian (or at least more expected) cherry vanilla version of the same drink. Initially, I had my reservations about the pairing, as mango and cola are both fairly strong and very different flavors, and I was not sure how the two would meld. But my hesitations were later proven quite unnecessary, as Paradise Mango Pepsi Next is a fantastic beverage.

Before I start talking about the mango flavoring, I should address Pepsi Next as a whole. For those unfamiliar with the product, Pepsi Next is Pepsi's new (well, somewhat new) "mid-calorie" cola offering. The drink uses a mixture of high fructose corn syrup and a combination of several artificial sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose) to offer a cola that contains half the calories and sugar content of a standard Pepsi without sacrificing much of the taste. Typically, these sorts of claims are often hard to believe, as it is all too common that these drinks just end up tasting like a diet beverage anyway, regardless of how hard the marketing tries to portray it as tasting "just like the original." But Pepsi Next is impressively "normal" tasting for a drink of its kind. The balance of sweeteners is very carefully proportioned, and while it does still taste different from regular-calorie Pepsi, it does not taste overbearingly diet, either. The aftertaste of the aspartame still tends to linger a little bit in the back of the throat, but I'm not sure that anything can really be done about that at this point. That's just how aspartame is. If you can get past the slight aftertaste, Pepsi Next is a fantastic alternative for those who are, like me, trying to limit their calorie and sugar intake. 

On top of all that, Pepsi's inclusion of mango flavoring makes Pepsi Next an even more appealing choice. The complexities of the cola's flavor compliment the exotic fruitiness of the mango quite well, and although I had my doubts about the combination at the beginning, I am now almost surprised that I have never come across the mixture before. The two flavors work so well together that it just seems like this would have become a more popular blend by now. 

All that being said, the drink is not perfect. The lingering aftertaste is likely to be a major turnoff to those who are opposed to the flavor of artificial sweeteners. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the aftertaste, myself, but the fact that I can enjoy a soda so much at only half the calories and sugar of a regular Pepsi helps me overlook it fairly easily. But all things considered, this is a really great beverage, and you should definitely try it out.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Purchased: Bi-Lo [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 12 fl. oz. [355mL]
Price: $2.99 [pack of 12]

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