In an attempt to revive the struggling sales of its premier diet soda, Pepsi has caved to public pressure and announced that a new and improved Diet Pepsi will be hitting the shelves, this time without the inclusion of aspartame.
The dreaded artificial sweetener was first introduced into Diet Pepsi in the '80s as an alternative to the then-similarly controversial saccharin, although public concern ultimately rose over aspartame's connection with health risks including headaches, diabetes, and even brain tumors. Pepsi attempted to assuage these concerns in 2012 by adding in acesulfame potassium, or ace-K, to no avail.
While research into the health hazards of aspartame hasn't proven especially fruitful yet, that hasn't stopped people from turning their backs on the ingredient en masse, which is what Pepsi blames for the decline of Diet Pepsi, the red-headed stepchild of the fountain drink world -- "It's the No. 1 thing that our customers have been calling about," according to a senior VP at PepsiCo.
Pepsi will be replacing aspartame with sucralose (better known to the world as Splenda), as well as adding the words "Now Aspartame Free" above the Pepsi logo, and while the shift has been gradual over the past few weeks, you should be able to find the new Diet Pepsi just about everywhere within the next month. Whether or not you'll actually drink it is another matter entirely.
Gianni Jaccoma is a staff writer for Thrillist, and he knows it's just a matter of time before people turn on Splenda as well. Follow his fear-mongering tweets @gjaccoma, and send your news tips to email@example.com