Serious Eats: Drinks
Does Dr. Pepper Ten Taste Even More Like Regular Dr. Pepper?
The Bottom Line:
Dr. Pepper Ten isn't quite the real thing, but our tasters far preferred it over the more watery Diet Dr. Pepper.
Earlier this year, Dr. Pepper announced its new "mid calorie" offering, Dr. Pepper Ten, with a bang (and a rat-atatatat and whatever the onomatopoeia for a laser gun is.)
The new 10-calorie soft drink is being marketed primarily to men with online ads featuring a camo-outfitted Rambo-type running through a jungle, evading snakes and laser gun attacks, all the while sipping a can of Dr. Pepper Ten. "Try it today and see why Dr. Pepper Ten is not for women," the website suggests.
But for most of us (women and men alike), Dr. Pepper Ten has been thus far unavailable—it's only being test-marketed in six cities around the country (Kansas City, Denver, Colorado Springs, Des Moines, Austin, and San Antonio.)
When we were in Denver recently, we got our hands on a 12-pack of the stuff and decided to do a blind taste test, comparing the original Dr. Pepper, the zero-calorie Diet Dr. Pepper, and this new ten-calorie version. Which lower-calorie version tastes the most like the real thing?
We were determined to find out.
Since the new Dr. Pepper Ten was only available at the Denver Super Target in cans, we also purchased 12-oz cans of Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper. The cans were refrigerated overnight and then poured neat into 17-ounce cooler glasses, which were tilted at a 45-degree angle to prevent over-foaming.
Glasses were tasted blind. We observed each soda's aroma, appearance, flavor, and aftertaste.
Visual: Indisputably the most effervescent (that's it there at the top of the photo above.) The bubbles lasted throughout the test.
Aroma: Fruity scents and classic Dr. Pepper aromas. We were pretty certain that this one was the real deal as soon as we smelled it.
Taste: This soda had the sweetest, most robustly fruity flavor, and a fuller body and flavor than the others.
Aftertaste: None discernible.
Dr. Pepper Ten
Visual: Very few bubbles. After the test, we even did a re-pour and carbonation quickly dissipated. Same caramel hue as regular Dr. Pepper.
Aroma: Recognizable Dr. Pepper fruity smell.
Taste: This soda had a very sweet, slightly artificial-tasting flavor with more cherry undertones than the others. One taster described this soda as having "generic Dr. Pepper taste, like Food Lion's Dr. Perky." But when compared to the diet version, the Ten pulled ahead.
Aftertaste: It seemed to cling to the side of the mouth and teeth, creating a filmy—but not unpleasant tasting—finish.
Diet Dr. Pepper
Visual: This soda had a similar lack of bubbles and no difference in color.
Aroma: The scent was sharper and more potent than that of Dr. Pepper Ten.
Taste: Tasters described this soda as being light—even watery. This version was much less robust in body than the other two, and the flavor seemed more artificial than the Dr. Pepper Ten.
Aftertaste: Somewhat metallic.
Dr. Pepper Ten does taste even more like regular Dr. Pepper than its zero calorie Diet doppelganger. Though we liked the aroma of the Diet version better, the mouthfilling richness and slightly less artificial flavor of the Ten made it the favorite of the low-cal options.
And as for the gender divide? Ten might be for women, after all. Both male and female testers preferred the Ten over the Diet.