The 1990’s were an interesting time, at least I’ve heard. Having been born in 1996, I only lived through 4 years of the decade and don’t remember too much. The 90’s brought us some amazing consumer food products such as Quaker Instant Oatmeal Dinosaur Eggs and Little Hugs Juice – products I still enjoy from time to time. The 90’s also introduced some pretty interesting fads in the food industry.
The early part of the decade brought a consumer fascination with “clarity”. Buyers associated “clear” with healthier and better. However, this fad faded fairly fast (say that five times). One of the brands that attempted to capitalize on this market fad was Pepsi and their introduction of the notorious Crystal Pepsi. This sweet, sticky, translucent beverage came and went in a year. Consumers seemed to adore it… and then they didn’t. Was Crystal Pepsi any better than regular Pepsi? What happened to Crystal Pepsi between 1993 and its recent reintroduction? This and more answered shortly.
Let’s start with the birth of Crystal Pepsi. In 1992 there were all sort of clear products produced. Consumers were concerned with the environment and their own health. So instead of making better, healthier products, companies made things clear – laundry detergent, mouthwash, even beer (Miller Clear Beer, anyone?). Many consumers fell for “the clearer, the better” catchphrase and the introduction of a clear Pepsi was an initial success. There’s even science behind why our brains are more likely to choose lighter colored foods.
Is Crystal Pepsi healthier than regular Pepsi or other non-clear soft drinks? Let’s look. At 69 grams of sugar per 20 oz. bottle and ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and carbonated water, it seems the only actual difference is the caramel coloring found in regular Pepsi. This makes sense, because the caramel coloring is what gives regular Pepsi it’s color and Crystal Pepsi is clear. Wow! To answer the question, no. Crystal Pepsi is by no means better for you, in fact with 45 more milligrams of sodium (90mg vs. 55mg) it’s worse.
Is Crystal Pepsi healthier than regular Pepsi? No, it’s worse.
There’s more to the quick dismissal of Crystal Pepsi than just the science behind the formula, however. In a capitalistic society, competition drives the market. Coca-Cola, being Pepsi’s number one competitor, saw Crystal Pepsi’s swift success and developed a shady scheme. Coca-Cola introduced Tab Clear, a clear version of the awful soft drink – Tab. Consumers hated Tab. By associating Crystal Pepsi with the terrible Tab Clear, Coca-Cola took down the novelty soda in less than a year.
Crystal Pepsi is now back on shelves, but who knows for how long. Pepsi is attempting to play off consumers’ sense of nostalgia. But is Crystal Pepsi as good as we remember it? Grab a bottle to find out for yourself. Just don’t try to tell yourself it’s healthier than other sodas – it’s quite the opposite.