The Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar, formerly called Throwback, is a brand of soft drink sold by PepsiCo in the United States and in sweet stores in South Australia for its flagship Pepsi and Mountain Dew brands. The drinks, called Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, are named as such because they are flavored with cane sugar and beet sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, which soft drink companies used to replace sugar (in their North American products) in the 1980s. In addition, these drinks use retro packaging. As of June 2014, Pepsi Throwback has been replaced in one area of the United States by "Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar", a new product formulation, also made without high fructose corn syrup.
The cost of sugar in the US started to rise in the late 1970s and into the 1980s due to government imposed tariffs, prompting soft drink manufacturers to switch to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a cheaper alternative to sugar. (Diet drinks were not included, because they have long been flavored with artificial sweeteners; the switch from saccharin to aspartame around the same time was an unrelated move.) By the mid-1980s, all of the major soft drink brands switched to HFCS for their North American products, with the original formula of Coca-Cola being one of the last holdouts. In most countries, sugar is still used rather than HFCS.
However, by the late 2000s, many soft drink fans wanted a return of sugar in the drinks, citing a slightly sweeter taste, controversies over negative health effects of HFCS, increases in the cost of corn syrup due to increased use of the product for ethanol production, as well as the cost of sugar having since dropped at that time.
In early 2009, PepsiCo announced plans to release versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew with pure cane sugar as its main sweetener, and without the citric acid found in regular Pepsi, on a limited basis. The original shipment went on sale in April 2009, and ended in June. Sales were strong for both, prompting PepsiCo to release a second limited edition for December 2009-February 2010.
The second version of Mountain Dew Throwback from December 2009 differed slightly in its formula from the first version from April 2009, in that it now included concentrated orange juice as one of its ingredients, giving it a slightly different flavor more in line with "regular" Mountain Dew.
A third batch was released on July 31, 2010, again as a five-week limited availability.
On October 12, Consumerist.com reported that Pepsi had decided to continue offering the Throwback line as long as consumers continue to buy it.
A fourth batch appeared in stores in late December 2010, removing the limited edition logo from the packaging. At the same time, Sierra Mist, a drink that debuted in 1999 and had always been made with high fructose corn syrup, also had a sugar-based formula released under the name "Sierra Mist Natural", which was called Sierra Mist (with real sugar) from 2013 to 2016, when it was replaced with Mist Twst. Sierra Mist (with real sugar) has since replaced the HFCS-based Sierra Mist as the primary Sierra Mist formula.
In January 2011, Pepsi Throwback began appearing in 12 pack 355 ml cans, 591 ml bottles and recently 32 pack 355 ml cans across Canada. In March 2011, Pepsi Throwback was discontinued in Canada but returned in October 2012.
On March 11, 2011, PepsiCo announced that both Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback would become permanent additions to the Pepsi and Mountain Dew product lines.
In 2014, Pepsi Throwback was replaced in most regions by "Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar". This new product formulation reduces the sodium content by 10 mg compared to the previous Pepsi Throwback product and 1 g less sugar in 20oz bottles, reducing the labelled calorie count from 260 to 250. PepsiCo will also be making available two additional flavours for a limited time only, marketed as "Pepsi-Cola Wild Cherry Made with Real Sugar" and "Pepsi-Cola Vanilla Made with Real Sugar". In addition to being sold in 20oz bottles and 12oz cans, PepsiCo is expanding the product line to their new 7.5oz mini cans and 12oz glass bottles.
Both editions have used retro packaging as part of the "throwback" theme. The first release featured the 1940s Pepsi-Cola script in royal blue on a modern navy blue background with the word "throwback" written in the modern font, while the 1973-1996 Mountain Dew logo was featured on a modern green background.
With the second release in December 2009, more accurate retro packaging was used. Pepsi used an exact replica of the 1973-1987 logo, while Mountain Dew used its original hillbilly theme. The use of Mountain Dew's original theme is a stark reversal of Pepsi's decision to distance the drink from its Appalachia origins, as well as a stark contrast from the drink's current male demographic, particularly those that participate in extreme sports or are involved with the gamer culture.
All subsequent releases of the Throwback drinks have used the second release's packaging.
Made with Real Sugar
|Mountain Dew||Mountain Dew Throwback|
|Serving||12 oz||12 oz||12 oz||12 oz||12 oz|
|Sodium||30 mg||40 mg||30 mg||65 mg||65 mg|
|Potassium||10 mg||0 mg||10 mg||5 mg||5 mg|
|Phosphorus||53 mg||60 mg||60 mg||0 mg||0 mg|
|Total Carb.||41 g||40 g||40 g||46 g||44 g|
|Sugars||41 g||40 g||40 g||46 g||44 g|
|Caffeine||38 mg||38 mg||38 mg||54 mg||54 mg|
|Ingredients||Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Sugar, Phosphoric Acid, Caffeine, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor||Carbonated Water, Sugar, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Caffeine, Natural Flavor||Carbonated Water, Sugar, Caramel Color, Phosphoric Acid, Caffeine, Natural Flavor||Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Concentrated Orange Juice, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Sodium Benzoate, Caffeine, Sodium Citrate, Erythorbic Acid, Gum Arabic, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Brominated Vegetable Oil, Yellow 5||Carbonated Water, Sugar, Orange Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Sodium Benzoate, Caffeine, Sodium Citrate, Gum Arabic, Erythorbic Acid, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Brominated Vegetable Oil, Yellow 5|
Dr Pepper started selling "Heritage Dr Pepper" in response in November 2009. Sugar-sweetened Dr Pepper was available from a single bottling plant in Texas until January 12, 2012 (see Dublin Dr Pepper).
In a rare move of no competition within the Cola Wars, Coca-Cola had no plans, as of early December 2012, to release a sugar-sweetened version of Coca-Cola on a regular basis. Aside from Coke sold in the UK, Kosher Coca-Cola, sold only for the Jewish holiday of Passover, and Mexican Coke, sold via import in the United States, the last time Coca-Cola was sold with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup was in 1985, just before the introduction of the now-infamous New Coke. The only exceptions began in 2007, when Coca-Cola bottlers in Cleveland, Ohio and Allentown, Pennsylvania started using sugar as a sweetener year-round for Coca-Cola, making these two markets the only ones in which sugar-sweetened Coca-Cola was sold throughout the year.
In 2011, Dr Pepper Snapple Group announced 7UP Retro, a sugar-sweetened version of 7UP, that would be available for a limited-time only. This became a direct competitor to Mountain Dew Throwback, but 7UP Retro stopped production later in the year, while Mountain Dew Throwback continued production. Mexican 7UP, which is exported to the United States, still has sugar.