Oh man, 2002 was a good year for soda freaks like me. In response to sagging sales, both Coke and Pepsi decided to release new offerings. First of all, Coca-Cola released Vanilla Coke. In its first year on the shelves, almost 30% of U.S. households had tried the drink (according to Wikipedia) To compete, Pepsi came up with Pepsi Blue…it wasn’t tried by 30% of US households.
You’d think Pepsi would have just released a vanilla version (which they eventually did in 2004) but they wanted to stir some colored shit up. They were riding high off of the success of Mountain Dew Code Red and thought they could make boatloads of cash infusing more drinks with bright colors. It didn’t quite work.
First of all, while a blue drink certainly does catch the eye, it’s not inherently clear what flavor “blue” is. Pepsi called it berry infusion. It was a sugary/blueberry raspberry/ultra carbonated/slightly cotton-candyish experience. With a hint of cola.
Somewhat interesting note: Pepsi Blue used Blue 1 (Brilliant Blue FCF) as a colorant. At the time it was banned in several countries because of health concerns. People with existing asthma, for example, could experience an allergic reaction to it. Since Pepsi Blue’s demise, the colorant has largely been un-banned.
How were its first year sales compared to Vanilla Coke? According to a NY Times article in 2003:
As in much of the beverage industry, sales of soft drinks by PepsiCo continued to decline despite new products. While Sierra Mist generated a spike in sales, any significant increase was largely negated by Pepsi Blue, which the company said had not sold as well as it had hoped.
A big marketing push featuring commercials starring Britney Spears, Papa Roach, and Sev didn’t help. The writing was on the wall for Blue. By 2004 it was off the shelves in the US completely.
Even some fans of the drink say it was an acquired taste, and many simply didn’t give it a real chance. Apparently, Indonesia and Mexico are still selling it, and there have been rumors that Pepsi Blue will return to the US market in 2009 for a limited time.
For those in need of a Pepsi Blue fix NOW, I’ve got two suggestions for you. 1) Jolt Cola’s Blue Raspberry and 2) Mountain Dew Voltage. They’re not quite the same, but it might just get you through those withdrawal fits if your still a Pepsi Blue fiend.
A Classique Pepsi Blue Commercial: