Website review: Pepsi.com

There’s probably no consumer product I’ve consumed more of in my life than Pepsi-Cola. For at least the last 40 years, it’s been my everyday drink of choice – preferred over water, over beer, over tea and over coffee. Especially preferred over ice, with a straw, in a tall frosty glass. A quick calculation shows that I’ve probably spent close to $10,000 on the corn-syrup-infused soft drink over the years. I’ve downed 438,000 ounces, which amounts to over 5 million calories, which adds up to about 5,000 pounds of added bulk, roughly the weight of a modern supertanker. It also means I’ve consumed more than a million milligrams of sodium – enough to build my own salt mine.

My love affair with Pepsi began as a youth in the 1960s. It was the ultimate treat my parents could get me at the end of the day. I occasionally strayed to other brands of cola, specifically RC Cola which at the time was the only drink to come in a 16-ounce bottle. Like many, I experimented during college, trying now-defunct brands such as Jamaica Cola, Chek Cola and the poorly-conceived Ebola Cola. Pepsi’s arch-enemy, whose name I shall not allow my fingers to type, is my choice only when there’s no other choice.

There’s nothing quite like that feeling you get after about the fourth or fifth gulp, when the carbonation in your gut reaches critical mass and that gentle eruption of flavor flows back into your sinuses and, if you’re lucky, stops there. It’s “the taste that beats the others cold” and “the choice of a new generation,” to quote slogans the company has used since its creation in the nineteenth century. I’ve got a lot to live, and Pepsi’s got a lot to give. Let’s see what some of that is by visiting the pepsi.com website.

The first inclination for any consumer visiting this site, after considering the home page request to make suggestions to our new president about how to Help Refresh America (I think I can guess at least one), is to find out what it is that makes Pepsi so tasty. I know there’s water and I suspect there’s sugar, but what else gives it that special bite? Well, there’s caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, sodium benzoate, potassium, citric acid and “natural flavors.” I know what caffeine is, I imagine citric acid comes from fruit, and I read somewhere that phosphorous can make you glow, all of which are good things. And who can dispute the wholesomeness of natural flavors? I can practically taste the dirt in a freshly opened can of soda.

In the “yesterday and today” section, we learn that Pepsi was invented in 1898 by Caleb Bradham and was originally called “Brad’s Drink,” a clever name that survived for days. It was created, Bradham said, to aid digestion. He said it tasted good and was good for you, unlike certain other colas I could name who bred a generation of cocaine fiends. We see a whirlwind of Pepsi logos circling the computer screen and eating up display memory before being shown the new container design. This is introduced with inspired words we could just as easily have heard during President Obama’s inaugural address: “We’re looking forward without losing sight of our past. We celebrate tomorrow, but honor yesterday. Today, we introduce the new face of our future.” Be assured, however, that “the taste remains the same” and only the marketing campaign changes.

Wandering around the site a little more, I see a part that issues “false rumor alerts,” where the company gets a chance to address concerns that the drink is made from the liquefied remains of slaughtered Amazon natives (completely untrue). The only entry here is a rather benign story about a patriotic can Pepsi allegedly produced with an edited version of the Pledge of Allegiance. Creating a patriotic can hardly seems scandalous; I can only assume that the abridged Pledge was the point of concern, maybe something about the “Republic of Richard Stanz” preparing for an attack on the American homeland.

We also see the obligatory corporate interest in protecting the environment in the form of the Pepsi Eco Challenge. I thought this might be a specific effort to restore balance to the biosphere – maybe planting a new tree for every plastic bottle cap that’s properly disposed of. Instead, it’s some vague “New Pepsi Challenge,” designed to recreate the excitement of that time the company dared consumers to choose among competing cola brands. “Today we heed a different call and face a different challenge, one that cuts across brands, companies, industries, even continents – the challenge of environmental stewardship, protecting our planet’s resources for generations to come.” I expected perhaps a call to pursue renewable stores of potassium or an end to our nation’s reliance on unfriendly suppliers of benzoate, but couldn’t find it.

It was fun to view the company’s current TV ad campaign, the “Pepsi Pass,” in which every generation is shown refreshing the world. We see Pepsi first being served at an old-time soda fountain, then the drink is successively passed to a 1920s flapper, soldiers celebrating the end of World War II, teenage drag-racers, hippies, a streaker, disco dancers, break dancers, Germans tearing down the Berlin Wall, and finally modern concert-goers. Most historians credit the pressure of Ronald Reagan’s military build-up in combination with decades of economic stagnation for the collapse of the Eastern bloc. As a loyal Pepsi drinker, I’m glad to see the truth finally told: the gassy fullness caused by drinking too much requires you to vigorously move around to get relief, and the Germans chose to get their exercise by dismantling the symbol of communism.

Finally, I did a quick review of all the current Pepsi products on the market. I barely survived the emotional roller coaster that was the rise and fall of Crystal Pepsi in the 1990s, so I was glad to see that the diversification of my favorite soft drink is still robust. We now have regular Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Caffeine-Free Pepsi, Diet Caffeine-Free Pepsi, Pepsi Max (with extra caffiene), Diet Pepsi Max, Pepsi One (with one calorie, for those who can’t stand zero-calorie drinks) and an orchard of fruit-flavored Pepsi’s, including cherry, lime, vanilla, cherry and vanilla, and caramel cream. It’s only a matter of time until we see Pepsi with Chicken Broth and Green Pepsi, with broccoli, kale, cabbage and algae.

I’m sure they’ll be wonderful. I plan to drink many thousands and thousands of ounces.

 

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4 Responses to “Website review: Pepsi.com”

  1. whiff Says:

    Thropplenoggin & I were much amused by this ripping wheeze. We hope you will be doing more website reviews in the future.

  2. E.F. Misanthrope Says:

    It’s rare to find a gentle and scathing attack in one piece; praise mixes with sarcasm to produce a refreshing blog that reaches parts other blogs don’t reach!
    I wonder if your love of Pepsi stopped you from going for the throat, or perhaps your skill at writing made you realise that it was a far funnier piece without bile.
    Whatever the ingredients are that you used to write this blog entry, it’s most impressive.

  3. Lessie Wheeington Says:

    Hello, I visited your website while searching bing for Kindle Deal. Your site is really amazing and I liked the theme. Just thought would let you know that I have bookmarked it. I think you will also like this website – Amazon Kindle. Also on a couple of pages I also encountered a 404 not found and after refreshing a couple of times was able to view the pages. Thanks

  4. Mina Roddick Says:

    following your blog, good stuff!

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