Coke Versus Pepsi: Taste-Testing the Brands

The massive portfolios of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are diverse: but which ones win over our taste buds?

Marcy Franklin
So will there ever be a true winner in the Coke versus Pepsi battle? It depends how you look at it.

It's weird, the loyalties we feel towards our soda. Some people swear by Diet Coke. Our company's CEO swears by Diet Pepsi. There are the friends who guffaw at a Pepsi can; and then friends who can't stand the taste of Coke. When did our taste buds become so polarized towards well, a cup of sugar

Click here for the Coke Versus Pepsi: Taste-Testing the Brands (Slideshow)

Strangely enough, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been fighting over our tastebuds since the 19th century — literally. Tracing back through Coca-Cola and Pepsi's history, Coca-Cola was already selling one million gallons per year by the time Pepsi first came onto the market, in 1898. But in fact, PepsiCo went bankrupt twice in its history (the first during World War I and its sugar rations, and then again eight years later), but when PepsiCo came back, it came back fighting. In fact, thanks to Pepsi's merger with Frito-Lay Inc. in the mid-1960s, PepsiCo has given Coca-Cola a run for its money ever since. Business Insider shares that although Coca-Cola  has a bigger market share than Pepsico — in beverages only — PepsiCo's multiple snacks and beverages has the company bringing in bigger bucks. It's never been more apparent than in the companies' reportings for the first quarter; while Coca-Cola reported an underwhelming quarter (even CEO Mukhtar Kent said he was unhappy with the company's performance in the first quarter), PepsiCo's quarter was stellar. What's even better? Coca-Cola blamed poor weather on sliding numbers. "I want to know if it was rainy on [Coca-Cola's] side of the street and sunny on PepsiCo's side of the street," said Jim Cramer of CNBC. 

So will there ever be a true winner in the Coke versus Pepsi battle? It depends how you look at it. Some websites have declared winners in the "cola wars," but there are a million ways to judge these two companies: what are their sales? What are their marketing and social media strategies? Which company (most importantly) has the cooler celebrity endorsements? (We vote Beyoncé for Pepsi personally, but we digress.) So really, perhaps in the food lover's mind, what it all really boils down to is the question we all wonder: which tastes better? 

We decided to put some of the companies' brands to the test: not all, due to the availability of some of the products (dude, where have you been hiding Sobe Lifewaters?) and sheer practicality — if we were to sit and pit each of the companies' dozens upon dozens of beverages against each other, we'd be jacked on sugar and be nowhere close to an answer. So we tested the companies' flagship brands — the regular colas, the diet colas, the second diet colas (in this case, Coke Zero and Pepsi Next), and cherry cola — and some of their other beverages. We've tested Dasani and Aquafina before, and we're always wary of a sports drink, but we had to know which we liked better. So which brand did we like overall? We'll let you click over to find out. 


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