There have been upheavals in the world of Pepsi in recent weeks. We saw the emergence of two--TWO--things which were Pepsi, yet not Pepsi. We saw the appearance of Pepsi Natural, made with ingredients such as cane sugar and kola nut extract; it was supposed to be Crunchy Granola Pepsi, I think. I bet they didn't call it Pepsi Green only because they would have had to use artificial green coloring to avoid confusion, thus invalidating the whole premise.
Or I suppose they could have let algae grow it in. That would have been all natural, and probably even nutritious. But ewww.
In any case, we also saw Pepsi Throwback. What, pray tell, does it portend to label a soda flavor "Throwback"? This name led to some degree of confusion; was this some sort of recipe rejected by the bottler, but obtained by rebel bottlers or something? Those who love Neal Stephenson (as I do) and have read Anathem (as I have, twice) may have had visions of a product of Orolo's library grape being bottled as a Pepsi product. Or maybe it was so bad that they anticipated the reaction of those quaffing it to be violent and forceful rejection (and "Pepsi Throwup" was just too blatant).
Well, while Pepsi is hardly Weird, something named "Throwback" is worthy of our attention and quaffing. For comparison, I will also quaff some non-Throwback, un-Natural, garden-variety Pepsi. It won't get the full review, though; I'm planning a Totally Normal Soda Review day here at the Lab.
Where and when: purchased June 2009 at 7-11, Escondido, CA
Color: identical to regular Pepsi. Standard cola dark brown.
Scent: A bit sweeter and more mellow than regular Pepsi. Less "dusty", more orange scent.
Taste: Assessed without reference to regular Pepsi, I would call it a smoky, citrusy cola with a fair amount of spiciness. It's actually reminiscent of anise or licorice. The cane sugar is distinctive. There is a slight bitterness, almost a nut-like tone, but it's faint. It fades pretty quickly--the mid-taste is sweet, with a slight citrus. That citrus becomes stronger as the aftertaste comes out.
Interestingly, it's closer to Coke than regular Pepsi. The sweet is deeper and a bit spicier, with a slightly more citrus-y taste. If regular Pepsi tastes like lemony furniture polish, then Throwback tastes like furniture polish with more strawberry and orange. The extra mellowness is nice; for me, regular Pepsi has always been a bit harsh, and this is a nice compensation.
This is fairly nice stuff. It's got a strong acid bite, and it makes my teeth feel as though they are going to dissolve. The feel is harsh and acrid, but the flavors are pretty pleasant. Not for throwing back, unless the acid is too strong for you.
EDIT: The Kibbitzer-in-Chief has informed me that the transitive verb "to throw back" can also refer to what one might do with a shot of an alcoholic drink which one did not want to leave in one's mouth. I was completely unaware of this. My barfly cred may never recover. Since the main plus of Pepsi Throwback is its interesting flavor, I don't see the point of "throwing it back" in that sense either.
Quaff rating: 3. Fairly pleasant.
Cough rating: 1. A bit harsh and biting for me.
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