We Tried Pepsi's New Permanent Flavor to See if It Deserves a Spot in the Lineup
Pepsi Mango is joining the soda brand's permanent drink roster, but is it good?
When a Pepsi spokesperson told me that a new permanent Pepsi flavor was about to reach stores, I figured it would be some health-focused, low-satisfaction drink. When I realized the permanent addition to Pepsi's lineup is Pepsi Mango, I was... surprised. Mango-flavored Pepsi is so incredibly random.
Pepsi Mango comes in two varieties—Regular and Zero Sugar—and both will be widely available by the end of March. I decided to be a team player and suss out the new flavor before you're confronted with it at the grocery store. I got my hands on a can of standard Pepsi Mango and a can of Pepsi Mango Zero Sugar and put my tastebuds to work. Here's what I determined about the new drinks.
First of all, I don't like cola.
Before diving in, it's worth noting that I'm not a fan of cola in general—especially fruit-flavored colas—and I tend to gravitate more toward Coke products than Pepsi products. In other words, I decided to try the new Pepsi Mango drinks purely as an act of service for Thrillist readers, not because I had a personal desire to drink them.
Before opening the cans, I jotted down my prediction of how I'd react. I noted that the flavor sounded refreshing, but guessed that I, personally, would not be a fan. "I don't think I'll be grossed out by the flavor, just not in love," I wrote.
Once my prediction was etched into paper, I cracked open the cans, poured them over ice, and began evaluating.
Pepsi Mango doesn't really taste like cola.
The very first thing I noticed when I took a sip of Pepsi Mango is that it doesn't taste like other colas. It's smooth, which is a word I didn't know could apply to soda. It doesn't have as much of a bite as other carbonated drinks and it's not overly sweet. Don't get me wrong, it's not not sweet, but it doesn't have as bold of a flavor as I'd expect.
Drinking Pepsi Mango is like drinking iced tea.
When I thought more about what makes Pepsi Mango different from other colas, I realized that it almost tastes a little watered down—but in a good way. When I imagined mango juice added to cola, I imagined an overload of sugar that would be thick and hard to stomach. Instead, I was pleased to discover that Pepsi Mango tastes like sweetened iced tea: refreshing, light, and perfect for warmer months.
The sugar-free Pepsi Mango was less of a delight.
Riding on the high of the Pepsi Mango, I moved to the Pepsi Mango Zero Sugar, which was (unsurprisingly) less tasty. It tasted better than standard Pepsi Zero Sugar, so if you like sugar-free drinks, you'll probably like this—just be warned that it tastes more like sweetener than mango, probably because it doesn't actually contain mango juice.
Still, I wouldn't classify the Pepsi Mango Zero Sugar as gross. It's a fine drink, worthy of being sold in stores, just not a fit for everyone.
I understand why Pepsi Mango earned a place in Pepsi's permanent lineup.
I genuinely did not go into the taste test expecting to write a glowing review, but here I am saying that Pepsi Mango is the unsung hero of the cola family. It's better than any Pepsi cola product I've ever tried, far better than the original Pepsi, assuming you like mango.
Pepsi Mango makes me want to lie on a blanket in Central Park on a hot summer day and read a book. It makes me want to cannonball into the pool and strike up a game of Marco Polo. It makes me want to crack open the window in my home office and let the fresh air flow in.
Pepsi Mango is like Gatorade, but without the electrolytes. It treats your body like a Starbucks Refresher, but it's cheaper. Don't think of Pepsi Mango as just another Pepsi drink. It deserves better.