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Taste Test: Cola

Is it worth paying extra to get name-brand cola, or do the carbonated beverages all taste the same? Taster's Choice judges had their own preferences before they sampled five brands from 2-liter bottles found at local grocery stores. In the end, they decided the names do matter — and they liked Pepsi best.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score (out of 100) Pepsi/68 Coke/63 Sam's Club/ 60
How'd it look? Dark and appealing. Like strong tea with bubbles. Classic. Foamy around the edges. Like a dark cup of coffee.
Judges' comments A smooth taste with a hint of water. Not quite as sweet as the others. "It has a little pleasing pepper nip on the palate," said one panelist. Perfect cola flavor mix. Refreshing. One judge said he would especially like this sweeter cola alongside a pepperoni pizza. Another said it tasted a bit like root beer. Judges liked the fizz on the cola and the balance of sweet and tart flavor. "It's thin, but nice, like Tiffany's biggest hit record," said one judge, comparing it to I Think We're Alone Now, by the '80s pop singer.
Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes. Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $1 at Wal-Mart. Widely available. $1.50 at Wal-Mart. Widely available. 78 cents at Wal-Mart.
Also sampled: Hannaford (67 cents from Sweetbay, 42 points) and Publix ($1.79, 57 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; and Times food critic Laura Reiley. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Taste Test: Cola 03/31/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 4:30am]
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