This past year at seminary I’ve gotten to know a nubmer of Canadians (people from the strange winter land of Canadia) and one of the things that we occupied our non-school related conversations with was the difference between U.S. Coke and Canadian Coke. Or more accurately all soft drinks in general. The main difference being that U.S. drinks are made with High Fructose Corn Syrup instead of real sugar, either from beets or cane. The Canadians seemed to be profoundly adamant and fiercely loyal to their version of beverages that we came up with in the first place ;). Even to the point of smuggling cases of the stuff back to the states after return trips to the land up north. The other option is to find a store that sells Mexican Coke, also made with sugar.
So then I was listening to NPR (like CBC for you Canadiens) and this story came on about the fact that Pepsi has released a limited, 8 week, trial run of something called Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback. They’ve got a whole retro marketing pitch (see youtube clip below) that builds off the idea that, “hey, remember what our products used to taste like in the 60’s and 70’s, well it’s back!” Which I find interesting because no, I don’t remember what it tasted like, I was born in 81 and my guess is you’re not actually marketing to the Baby Boomers who are all now diabetic and shouldn’t drink your stuff anyways!
The marketing strategy of, “hey remember the pre 80’s” brings up a question, “why don’t they still make it with real sugar?” Two reasons, neither of which have to do with taste. 1) in the late 70’s the U.S. placed incredibly high tarifs on imported sugar. 2) at the same time the U.S. introduced massive subsidies for the Corn industry in the states. Eventually there was a massive glut of corn. This would have lead to a massive drop in corn prices. Instead of reducing the subsidies and thereby reducing the supply side, they decided to increase the demand side and began producing High-Fructose Corn Syrup to systematically replace sugar. Read the labels, it’s everywhere….like the boogey man. Now, there are some people who are all kinds of health nut crazy that will say that using corn syrup instead of real sugar will cause cancer, decrease the length of your life and make horns grow out of your head. Scientifically there’s really no significant chemical difference….you should just eat less of both. On top of that, my grandfather raised Corn for his whole life and probably benifited greatly from the subsidies, but I still have issues with that much government medling.
Interestingly enough though, there’s apparently a significant difference in taste. The real sugar seemes to take some of the harshness out of the taste. The guest they had on was from some online newsletter devoted to carbonated beverage (seriously, get a life), and said that with the Pepsi you had more Cola tast and less of the harsh aftertaste. With the Mountain Dew, apparently it’s different enough that people either love it because it doesn’t taste like the normal stuff or they hate it because it doesn’t taste like the normal stuff. PEPSI!!!! (fist shaking in the air, Colbert Style) So, if you get a chance to try it, fantastic. Let me know what you think. I, on the other hand, live in the middle of knowwhere Kansas and most people don’t really care what we think anyways so they probably won’t test it out on us.