Here at Taste Test Labs, we heartily regret missing the last two flavors of limited-edition Japanese Pepsi: "ice cucumber" and "blue Hawaii." Neither got very high marks from the world of Internet tasterati, but still—we'd like to know. And then there are the other Japanese Pepsi flavors from days gone by: Pepsi Gold (with ginger), Pepsi Red (spicy), and many more. Here's a dang Wikipedia page with all the craziness. Anyway, when we saw that Pepsi White was being released, we thought this would be as good a time as any to swear to you, dear readers, that we would never miss another—God and eBay willing.
That said, we used eBay—always more reliable than God when we're looking for unusual snacks—to procure a couple of bottles of this fascinating new product. The bottle is delightfully cute (like everything in Japan! Just kidding, dude who thinks we don't take Japan seriously enough), with a white label and a bunch of little Pepsi logos swirling around. The word "white" is in silver, and the label proclaims "Pepsi & yogurt flavor." That's right, friends, Pepsi and yogurt, together at last. (And yes, we're aware of Calpis Soda, a.k.a. Calpico, but it doesn't have the word Pepsi in it.)
The liquid itself would qualify, I guess, as a "suspension." It looks cloudy, not quite mixed, though perhaps that's just some trick of the manufacturing process. There's something a little off-putting about the color, to be honest. And the name seems a little Jim Crow to me. But let's put it to the test—the Taste Test, that is.
The taste: Pretty damn not-bad, I have to say. No one spit it out in disgust, and given how strange it looks (we eat with our eyes first, remember), it had an uphill battle. That said, it doesn't taste anything like yogurt, which isn't too surprising considering it doesn't have any yogurt in it. (I'd provide the ingredients list, but it's in Japanese, and even our resident speaker couldn't accurately translate for us.) There's definitely a hint of lemon and a slight aroma of vanilla, which led more than one Taste Tester to declare that it reminded them of cream soda. (As a cream-soda aficionado, I disagree—it's nowhere near as sweet.)
There's also a very slight hint of baking-soda flavor, which led some to remark that it tastes medicine-y. Tasha found it incredibly sweet, but I actually had the opposite reaction: It seems almost tart to me. (Then again, I like Jones Cream Soda, which will screw up your face into a twisted pile of sweet.) There was little to no cola taste, which is surprising, since it's billed as "Pepsi & yogurt." (Unless in Japan, that translates to "no Pepsi and no yogurt.")
But overall—a new soda flavor that's isn't disgusting and isn't more of the same. And way better than Red Bull Simply Cola. Maybe someday the American PepsiCo will free itself from the bondage of boring flavors and introduce some of these wacky styles to this great land of ours. In the meantime, it's gonna be Coca-Cola Classic—red, white, and you.
• "It tastes kinda soapy."
• "It's kinda cream soda-ish, but not as sweet."
• "Do the Japanese realize they are being sold mislabeled cream soda?"
• "Ooh, it's weirdly sparkly as you pour it."
• "It smells like Slice or one of those fruity sodas. And initially it tastes exactly like that: a generic lemon-lime soda. But there's a strong secondary taste that's much harder to pin down."
• "I really can't get over the smell. I feel like I'm sticking my face in a scented candle every time I take a sip, and it's throwing me off."
• "The carbonation bubbles are iridescent! I think I like looking at this more than drinking it. It's the prettiest pop I've ever seen!"
• "Tastes like Crystal Pepsi plus white."
• "It starts off fine, but afterward, the distinct flavor of Maalox lingers in my mouth."
• "Usually we say everything tastes like cough medicine, but this actually tastes more like Pepto."
• "It tastes like when they sneak vitamins into food and drinks."
• "There's a disconcerting cloudiness to it."
• "Still, it's pretty sweet. I think America's ready for it."
• "It just has to be relabeled as something else... I'm not really getting the yogurt."
• "I think this is pretty refreshing and tasty. Maybe a little too sweet to drink a whole bottle of. I bet it isn't any sweeter than normal Coke or Pepsi, but because the flavor is so odd, we aren't inured to it like we are with stuff we drink all the time."
• "When you first taste it, you're like, 'Hey, this isn't bad at all, especially for a Pepsi product.' Then that aftertaste just hangs around saying 'Fuck you.'"
• "It tastes like the Big Boob Jellies. It tastes like white."
• "Not bad, but I don't think I'd want it again. And I immediately had two Tic-Tacs afterward to cleanse my palate."
• "Koski, what booze would this work with?" "I dunno, take your pick. It's too odd a flavor to think of an easy complementary booze option. It's going to overpower whatever you put in it. So vodka, I guess."
• "It wasn't unpleasant, but it's probably not the first thing I would reach for in the fridge."
• "It reminded me of Crystal Pepsi mixed with some sort of berry. 7-UP with a little less fizz—but more sugar."
• "Overall, it's not quite 'meh' but also not tasty. It might make a good complement to goldfish crackers, but I think I might get sick if I had a full glass/can."
• "Smells a little perfumey. Tastes nothing like yogurt, which I think is a good thing. I think it tastes like Sprite with a fruity twist, but I can't quite place the fruit. Decent."
• "Not as sour as actual yogurt, and definitely not as slimy. Put both in front of me, and I'd reach for this every time."
• "There's a Japanese dessert called nata de coco, jellied coconut water, which is similar in taste and appearance. We used to eat it with fruit salad."
• "Calpis Soda is another mass market beverage in Japan which is supposedly yogurt flavored. Pepsi White tastes like regular Pepsi and Calpis combined."
• "It's more like yogurt milk plus club soda. Slightly sweet, tangy, but a little chalky. I think it's pretty good, but it would probably not be a big seller in America."
• "It's not truly white like milk, it's a cloudy white. They should have named it Pepsi Fog or Pepsi Haze. I'd drink Pepsi Haze."
• "It smells and tastes a little like potpourri, so I can't imagine drinking it in a large volume."
• "It has a curiously faint taste, almost nonexistent. It's kind of like carbonated sugar water with a slightly yogurty aftertaste. It's surprisingly not bad, but it's not what I'd call good either."
Where to find it: eBay, or your local 7-Eleven, if you happen to live in Japan.