'We Try It' is a regular series where we try the latest off-beat food and beverage offerings.
If you’ve visited a Chinese convenience store in the past week you may have noticed a new soft drink nestled alongside the bottles of Pepsi and Pepsi Twist in the stand-up coolers: Pepsi Blue.
While technically not new, as the drink was originally released in mid-2002 in Canada and the United States, the soft drink is making its China debut this month, after two shipments arrived in the country from Indonesia, according to Xinhua.
A commercial flop in North America (the drink was pulled from shelves in Canada and the US in 2004), Pepsi Blue is still sold in Indonesia and the Philippines, reported GB Times.
That’s can confirm that the drink has currently been rolled out in Guangzhou and Shanghai, although finding a convenience store that stocks Pepsi Blue can prove easier said than done. So far, 7/11 stores seem to be the best place to snag a bottle.
We managed to track down a couple bottles of Pepsi Blue and, in keeping with our self-assigned duty to analyze all the Middle Kingdom’s offbeat F&B offerings, have sampled the beverage so, you know, you don’t have to.
Here is what we thought:
It tastes similar to the original North American beverage
In all fairness, the last time we had the beverage was probably around the same time The Matrix Reloaded was in theaters, but as best we can recall, it tastes similar to the North American Pepsi Blue, which is to say it tastes like a hybrid of blue Kool-Aid and regular Pepsi.
The Chinese version seems less syrupy than the original (which has often been compared to a melted Slurpee), but again, it’s been a decade – so it’s difficult to make that statement with certainty.
Pepsi Blue is billed as a berry-flavored soft drink and transitions from tasting like normal Pepsi to an artificial berry flavor, before ending with a taste that’s similar to that of a diet soft drink. It’s okay, if uninspiring.
It looks like it might kill you
Antifreeze is blue, drinking antifreeze will kill you. We’d forgive anyone for looking twice if they saw a child – or adult, for that matter – with a glass full of blue liquid.
If you were an American adolescent in the early- to mid-2000s you will likely remember Pepsi Blue. The drink was endorsed by then-(kinda)-popular band Papa Roach, appeared in The Italian Job and Garfield: The Movie and was regularly advertised during professional sporting events.
Pop princess Britney Spears even appeared in an ad for the drink.
Basically, if you had cable, a dial-up internet connection and/or enjoyed sports and Hollywood films in 2003, you likely witnessed Pepsi’s rabid – but ultimately fruitless – promotion of the beverage.
It’s more of a Gilbert Arenas than a Stephon Marbury
China is home to more than one washed-up NBAer looking to jumpstart a dying career, and, in many ways, Pepsi is trying to do the same with their oft-maligned Pepsi Blue.
But will Chinese consumers be more receptive to the Windex-colored beverage than their American counterparts? We suppose that's anyone’s guess, although it is worth noting that China’s market for soft drinks is considerably smaller than the United States, where 170 liters of soda was purchased per person in 2011, compared to nine liters per person in China. That works out to over 54 billion liters of sugar water purchased in the US in 2011 to China’s 12.5 billion.
On the flip side, Indonesians only purchased three liters per person in 2011 and Pepsi Blue has managed to succeed there.
But is the beverage’s China debut more of a Stephon Marbury or Gilbert Arenas kind of rebirth? We're putting our money on Gilbert.
It mixes well with white rum
Mix two ounces of white rum, a liberal splash of Smurf tears – er, Pepsi Blue, a handful of ice cubes and garnish with a maraschino cherry and cocktail umbrella and voilà: we present to you the 'lazy man’s blue Hawaiian.’
The drink is experiencing a price hike in Guangzhou
Possibly due to the fact the drink is extremely difficult to find in Guangzhou, some stores have taken it upon themselves to jack up the price of Pepsi Blue. We visited eight 7/11 stores across Tianhe, Yuexiu and Haizhu, as well as several locally-owned shops and a Family Mart, and only two locations had the beverage stocked. While Pepsi Blue should be priced somewhere around RMB6-10 per bottle, one convenience store in Guangzhou’s Haizhu District was selling the drink for a whopping RMB36 per bottle.
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