Pepsi: The meh cola

20030808 COKE VS PEPSI
By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer

I hate Pepsi. You may say, “tastes are subjective” or “that’s just your opinion.” You’d be totally correct, but this is an opinion article so let’s move on, because the reason why I dislike it is more than that.

Pepsi has had campus dining caught within an iron grip. Every single dining establishment serves Pepsi. This certainly has more to do with Chartwells’s monopoly style of dining services than necessarily Pepsi’s wishes.

Yet, this all-encompassing reign of Pepsi, which I have spent nearly four years under, has created within me maybe more opinion than is necessary.

You see, I am a soda drinker. I like drinking soda whenever possible – because I like it, not because of some caffeine addiction. So, when I came to this campus in 2014, I figured that the fact that this is a Pepsi campus wouldn’t keep me down because there are so many other sodas to drink. What I did not take into account was the strong niche held in my diet by cola flavored sodas. I acquiesced to Pepsi’s domination and still regularly consume it to this day.

To be clear, this isn’t a rant against the entire Pepsi ecosystem. Before you dismiss me as some Coca-Cola product shill, you’ve got to know that I like Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist and Pepsi’s other secondary beverages. This is a rant purely against Pepsi Cola.

What riles me up isn’t Pepsi by itself. It’s that every time I go off campus to eat and I grab a Coke, I realize how inferior Pepsi is compared to its competitors. By the way, this is a comparison of bottled Pepsi versus bottled Coke, not some flawed comparison of soda fountain stuff (which is, by the way, a far less consistent mixture).

The taste difference is not huge. They’re both cola flavored and Pepsi is similar to other sodas in that it is almost sickeningly sweet (thanks, high fructose corn syrup). It has similar nutritional value – meaning not great nutritional value. Coke is significantly more acidic and harsh on the mouth than Pepsi, but that’s not necessarily bad. There’s a time and a place for smoothness – to coexist with flavors – and harshness – to overpower flavors.

Where it differs, crucially, is mouthfeel. Pepsi feels more like syrup than most of its competitors (even RC Cola). Perhaps it’s the balance of carbonation that causes this. Perhaps it really is just really thick in comparison. The refreshing feeling I get from even a cola flavored pouch of Capri Sun is superior to Pepsi’s soup of a beverage.

Actually, even soup is less viscous. Coke makes me feel refreshed while Pepsi encumbers me. Because of this, the aftertaste lingers longer than Coke’s – and it’s not a great aftertaste for either of them.

An astute observer may point out that sodas all tend to have this encumbering effect, of not refreshing energy but making the drinker more sluggish. This is totally fair to say. I would argue that Pepsi’s is noticeably worse.

This article isn’t intended to cause masses to rise up, to rail against the very moral fabric of Pepsi Co., and its reign of slight-worseness. It’s also not all that important in the scale of things. But it’s what needed to be said.

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