Coke Versus Pepsi: Taste-Testing the Brands (Slideshow)
August 9, 2013
The massive portfolios of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are diverse: but which ones win over our taste buds?
Dasani Versus Aquafina
Many say that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo's breakthrough in the market was launching bottled waters, in new efforts to capture non-soda drinkers. Sure, it's common knowledge that all water tastes the same — but as we've discovered in other bottled water taste tests, it's just not the case. What did our testers say? Surprisingly, 100 percent of our tasters preferred Coca-Cola's Dasani to PepsiCo's Aquafina, calling it "fresher." One tester even thought Aquafina tasted like tap water.
Winner: Coca-Cola's Dasani
Powerade Versus Gatorade
Yep, bet you didn't know that Powerade was owned by Coca-Cola; Gatorade (and third-runner Propel) is owned by PepsiCo. Who prevailed in the battle of "-ades"? All but one of our tasters preferred Gatorade to Powerade, perhaps to no one's surprise. (Perhaps it was the lighter blue color?) Testers noted that the Powerade tasted "syrupy," but Gatorade didn't exactly receive glowing reviews. The best response: "tastes like summer camp."
Winner: PepsiCo's Gatorade
Sprite Versus Sierra Mist
Battle of the clear sodas? Sprite is said to have been the catalyst for Coca-Cola's diversification and success, but PepsiCo's Sierra Mist won the taste test by a narrow margin. Testers noted the natural flavors of the soda, dead-on, considering it's the "all-natural" soda from PepsiCo. Testers liked it for its true to form citrus flavor.
Winner: PepsiCo's Sierra Mist
Coca-Cola Cherry Versus Pepsi Wild Cherry
"It smells like marzipan," said one tester with a particularly keen nose. Yet no one was a huge fan of the cherry cola flavors from Coca-Cola or PepsiCo; one tester described Cherry Coke as "cough syrup." And yet, all but one tester agreed that Pepsi Wild Cherry was the winner for its "smoother cherry" flavor.
Winner: PepsiCo's Pepsi Wild Cherry
Coke Zero Versus Pepsi Next
Before we get to the tried and true diet sodas, we had to test the newest iterations of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo's diet sodas. What does that look like? Coke Zero has zero calories, sugar, fat, or protein. (The only thing it does have? Forty milligrams of sodium in a 12-ounce bottle.) Pepsi Next, on the other hand, has 35 calories and 10 grams of sugar: "a true cola experience with 60 percent less sugar." So who won? It was a hard battle, but Coke Zero edged out over Pepsi Next. Granted, both were described as "pretty bland," so it's probably best to stick with the regular diet colas...
Winner: Coca-Cola's Coke Zero
Diet Coke Versus Diet Pepsi
Besides the Gatorade and bottled water tests, there was no clearer answer in the "cola wars." Diet Coke won by a landslide because of its "old familiar flavor — just what it should be." Diet Coke's taste was clearly recognizable to every tester, surprisingly. Diet Pepsi, on the otherhand, was described as diluted root beer.
Winner: Coca-Cola's Diet Coke
Coca-Cola Versus Pepsi
And the winner of the two flagship brands, the colas that started it all? Pepsi, surprisngly. No one could quite describe what made Pepsi so much better than Coke; in fact, it was the closest call in all of our matchups. However, most tasters were surprised to learn that they preferred Pepsi over Coke; some were so convinced that they "knew" it was Coke. Yet we can't deny what our taste buds are craving.
Winner: PepsiCo's Pepsi