Why I Bought Pepsi at the Grocery Store

Each week at the grocery store, we purchase a 2-liter soda bottle. By the time Sunday comes around again, that bottle is usually empty, thus the reason why we buy one on a weekly basis. Because variety is the spice of life, we tend to get a different flavor each time. Sure, we have about six flavors we usually choose, but seldom to we get the same flavor two weeks in a row.

This past Sunday, I made our weekly soda choice based on nostalgia. Before I elaborate, a little bit of background…

If there is one promotional/marketing strategy that was pioneered in professional sports and then seeped through to brands, it is the throwback reintroduction. For years, Major League Baseball teams would hold “turn back the clock” nights where players would wear throwback jerseys from a different era in the organization’s history. Fans always got a kick out of seeing the players wear the old colors and logos of a time long ago. For the older fans it reminded them of the past and for the younger fans it made something come to life that they had only seen in old pictures and grainy video.

In recent years, the retro trend has hit food and drink brands hard. Miller Lite and General Mills cereals are two examples of brands going back to their roots by bringing back logos and packaging from the past. Marketers will say employing this strategy shows that the product has stood the test of time and can be depended on to deliver a consistent, pleasing taste.

As a marketer myself, I understand this. However, as an average consumer, I must admit that retro packaging doesn’t necessarily make the brand more credible in my eyes, it just makes me more interested from a nostalgic/historical standpoint.

When I see something on a shelf that is wrapped in branding from the 1970s, it stands out to me. I like to look at how a company presented itself back in a different decade, it is intriguing to me. Even more powerful, when I see a product wrapped in branding from the early 1990s I can’t help but look it over. You see, I was a little kid in the early 90s and when I see a product I enjoy presented in the same way it looked when I was a 5-year-old kid, it gives me a small dose of happiness.

At the Walmart Market on Sunday, as I glanced the soda selection, I saw the soft drink of my childhood in the form that it used to be during those glory years. Staring at me was a row of 2-liter Pepsi bottles with just the simple Pepsi globe logo with no blue background. As I have mentioned in past posts, my parents didn’t let us drink soda that much growing up. An exception was when we visited my grandparents in Walla Walla. When you opened their refrigerator, it was stocked with Pepsi cans, the ones that were white with the globe logo and the Pepsi script running vertical. At the time, it represented freedom and deliciousness.

Now, in the present, that retro logo reminded me of my grandma, my grandpa, and basically my early childhood. Swayed by the throwback logo and by the fact that my father-in-law’s favorite drink is Pepsi, I threw the bottle in my cart.

I couldn’t resist; I bought the 2-liter of retro Pepsi.

I am a believer in the power of retro packaging. I think it tugs at people in many different ways and can produce impulse buys on the part of consumers. As long as the retro identity doesn’t stay around long enough to muddy waters with the brand’s current identity, I think it is a great strategy. Don’t Blink.

My Top 5 Favorite Sodas

I grew up drinking very little soda. My parents rarely kept it in the house and my coaches always told me it was detrimental to my body. However, as I grew older, and especially since I moved to the south, I have enjoyed soda more and more. Although I will still opt for water or milk before a soft drink, I am at the point now where I drink soda multiple times per week.

Because I enjoy making “top 5” lists based on my food and drink preferences, it is only natural that I do one on soda. So, without further ado, I give you my top choices for when it comes to deciding on a highly carbonated and sugary drink.

5. Pepsi – If there ever happened to be soda in the refrigerator, or, as we called it, “pop,” it was Pepsi. My mom grew up in a home where there was an endless supply of the stuff and she never lost her taste for it. My grandpa owned a restaurant and would always bring home cases of “Pepsi-Cola.” Because I was exposed to Pepsi at a young age and because we regarded it so highly, to this day I still enjoy it. I will always choose Pepsi over Coke and I will always enjoy a slight taste of nostalgia when I drink a can.

4. Sprite – My taste for Sprite and other lemon-lime sodas has evolved over the years. My taste for it started when I had braces. My orthodontist advised that if I did drink soda, which I rarely ever did, to drink light colored formulas. This pretty much left me with Sprite. I grew to like it, a preference that continues to this day. I like the mellow, light taste of the drink. If I am eating something really heavy, such as a McDonald’s quarter pounder meal like I had on Friday, I try to neutralize it with a Sprite. Come on man, obey your thirst.

3. Orange Soda – Call me a kid but every now and then I enjoy an orange soda. If it is 100 degrees outside and I feel dehydrated, order me up an orange soda. The way I see it, no other soda hits the spot like an orange one. I don’t even care if it is Fanta, Sunkist, Crush, or the various other brands out there…an orange soda is an orange soda to me.

An orange soda is so refreshing.

2. Wild Cherry Pepsi – My favorite soda logo, I find a can or bottle of Wild Cherry Pepsi aesthetically pleasing. But besides the attractive design, I genuinely like the taste. If I want to sit on my couch and drink a soda on the rocks, Wild Cherry Pepsi is my first choice. It is tasty, refreshing, and satisfying. Also, the smell that escapes when you crack open a can or twist open a bottle is the absolute best.

1. Dr. Pepper – Did you know that Dr. Pepper is actually the oldest soda? Well, in my book, the oldest is also the best. When it comes to types of soda that I see people addicted to the most, I can narrow it down to three major ones: Diet Coke, Mt. Dew, and Dr. Pepper. In my opinion, Diet Coke is flat out not very good and Mt. Dew is way too sugary. But with Dr. Pepper I can understand the mania. Dr. Pepper has that smooth and unique taste that allows you to drink more than one…just ask Forrest Gump. In all honesty, I just really enjoy Dr. Pepper. Like I said, there is no other taste like it (besides imitators). If you had to fill a refrigerator for me of only soda, I would say stock it up with Dr. Pepper.

Yes, I like Dr. Pepper so much I even have a Dr. Pepper shirt.

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I know what you are asking right now…why don’t you just drink Cherry Dr. Pepper? Although I do like that particular flavor, it doesn’t beat my top two flavors when they are served individually. Thanks for reading! Don’t Blink.

Would I Drink a Dr. Skipper/Mt.Breeze/Fountain Mist?

A couple days ago a co-worker told me about the neat collection his brother had. This guy made it his mission to purchase every generic Dr. Pepper soda he could find. You know what I am talking about, right? The knockoffs of Dr. Pepper that grocery stores or sketchy companies sell such as Dr. Skipper, Dr. Bold, Dr. Thunder, etc. I found this idea absolutely awesome, a truly unique collection that I give this guy two thumbs up for deciding to undertake. Personally I also enjoy checking out the bizarre names that are assigned to impostor products. Since arriving on the east coast my interest has only intensified as I been introduced to whole different lines of second rate brands.

But although I enjoy looking at these silly soda brands I don’t enjoy drinking them. I very rarely consume soft drinks and when I do I prefer a premium brand thank you very much. About 14 months ago I wrote a blog post on generic items I would purchase and generic items I would not purchase. Soda made the NOT list. Even so, back when I was a kid I did drink the rip off sodas that you could get out of your grocery store vending machine for a quarter. And, even then, I could detect the drop in quality. To this day I can still remember the taste of those junior varsity pops. Tonight I want to briefly identify three sodas that actually tasted like the premium brand it was trying to mimic and three brands that missed the mark so bad that it wasn’t even funny.

Similar

Orange Soda – Give me a glass of a carbonated orange drink and call it good. Out of the three sodas I am giving credit to as having a resemblance to the name brand, orange soda by far comes the closest. You could throw three knockoffs in with Fanta, Orange Crush, and Sunkist and chances are I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I think orange pop lacks a signature, expensive ingredient (like real oranges) because you really can’t tell much of a drop off between brands.

Root Beer – In my blog post that I referenced above I said that root beer in the generic version tastes flat. I still stand by that but I think A&W and Mug sometimes taste a little flat too. I could make a root beer float with any type of root beer and I am pretty sure I would be happy.

Lemon-Lime Soda – When it comes to sodas such as 7-UP, Sierra Mist, and Sprite I think the generic versions do a fairly decent job of matching up. I think the lemon-lime taste is pretty universal and easy for companies you have never heard of before to replicate. If I drank soda and if I didn’t care that my friends thought I was a cheapskate I might consider buying an imitator if it meant saving a couple dollars.

Garbage

Mt. Dew – I am listing this soda in its brand name form because I know of no other drink that even comes close to its taste. Whatever competitors Coca-Cola has tried to introduce over the years to battle Mt. Dew have failed. So if Coke can’t succeed you can only imagine what the generic brands come up with. Did you actually imagine something? If you did downgrade that version by 10x and you got what rip off Mt. Dew tastes like. The actual taste of these products is worse than the silly Mountain ________ (insert anything) names they are labeled with. I never tasted an imitator that even entered the ballpark of what Dew tastes like. By a long shot, Mt. Dew wannabes take the cake for tasting nothing like its intended product.

Cola – Knockoff colas are bad…real bad. You know how I describe the taste of a cola that isn’t Pepsi or Coke? Dirty tasting. Drinking some of these sodas made me realize why the two giants spend billions both on developing their formula and keeping it a secret. Drinking non-premium cola seriously gave me a headache back when I was younger. Do you want to torture your most hated enemy? Force WARM generic cola down his throat…pretty sure there isn’t a crueler punishment than that.

Dr. Pepper – Not only do knockoff Dr. Peppers taste flat they also taste like crap. With generic brands you lose the smooth taste of DP and replace it with a nasty aftertaste. Besides diet sodas that some people drink as if it kept them young, Dr. Pepper is the second most popular soda that I actually see people live on as their primary liquid. If you were to ever steal the mug or Big Gulp container of someone who is dependent on Dr. Pepper and switched it out with Dr. Shasta I am 95% sure that person would die the moment the fluid touched the lips.

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In summary, don’t drink soda. But if you must, try to stick with something made by Pepsi or Coke. If you are going to fill your body with carbonation and sugar you might as well do it via the companies that actually specialize in it. Don’t Blink.