The two of us are pretty adaptable people, open to change and compromise. John's gotten Carey to love the Steelers, South Park, and WASPs who play racquet sports. Carey's opened John's heart to kale, New York City, and terrible TV dramas like Revenge. But diet soda? On that one, he's not budging.
Dr Pepper is after the Johns of the world with their Dr Pepper Ten, a diet soda with "Ten Bold Calories!" and the slogan "For Men Only," slotting ads between Bud Light and Chevy during Sunday football. Okay, we get it; they want regular-soda guys to drink it. But would any self-respecting "I don't drink diet!" guy be fooled?
Katie Robbins already ran a properly precise taste test of Dr Pepper, Diet, and Ten. But in our little world, people are either diet soda drinkers or they aren't. Our question: would regular soda loyalists like Dr Pepper Ten? And second: would diet drinkers like it, too?
I can spot a diet soda a mile away. It's like a Spidey-sense for Splenda and aspartame. But skeptical Carey thought I'd bias myself and subjected me to two blind taste tests; I didn't know if there was a "real" Dr Pepper in either. She ended up lying and telling me the Ten was regular—but I called her out on it, getting the diet, ten, and regular Dr Peppers all right.
But I'll admit it was slightly difficult. Diet Dr Pepper sticks out like a sore thumb to me, no question. But Ten is much more subtle. The regular has a roundness to it, and a distinct sweetness. Ten lands much closer to regular than to diet, with much more body, but still with that little bit of something-fake aftertaste. It could almost fool you, though. I can't see myself totally making the switch. But I did sneak a sip out of Carey's later in the week—something I never do with a straight-up Diet.
Richer, fuller, and just, well, better, Dr Pepper Ten gets my vote of approval. (I prefer Coke Zero to Diet Coke, too.) I'd always thought Diet Dr Pepper tasted much closer to its caloried couterpart than most sodas. But tasted next to regular and Ten, it was amazing how similar those two tasted—and how much the metallic aftertaste of Diet Dr Pepper stood out. Dr Pepper's pretty strong in the diet game, but I think they've made a good thing better.
What Do You Think?
Have you gotten your hands on Dr Pepper Ten yet? What do you think?
About the authors: Carey Jones is the editor of Serious Eats New York and co-editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. Follow her on Twitter (@careyjones). John M. Edwards is Serious Eats's fast-food bureau chief and eats 85% of the food Carey orders. Follow him on Twitter (@johnmedwards).