If you want to go back to the 70s, you just need a little sugar

Strange clothes, bizarre hairstyles, disco music blaring – I could only be talking about the 70s, of course. And now the good people at Pepsi are offering a portal through which you can enter that long gone decade: Pepsi Throwback.

Why are Pepsi commercials using images that evoke the 70s to sell their new limited-time-only product? Because it’s been nearly that long since Pepsi and other soft drink makers primarily used sugar to sweeten soft drinks. And that’s what Pepsi Throwback is: PepsiCola made with what the ad calls “natural sugar.”

Who would have thought in 1979 that sugar would one day be considered a “natural” ingredient?

Of course, Pepsi isn’t claiming that sugared Pepsi is healthier than Pepsi sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – they’re saying it’s a novelty. And soda aficionados are saying it’s good. In fact, some say that a cola drink sweetened with sugar is the ONLY acceptable form.

According to a soft drink blog called bevreview.com, fans of cola made with sugar look forward to spring every year because that’s when they can easily find Coke that’s kosher for Passover. The corn in HFCS is a kosher no-no, so kosher Coke could also be called Coke Throwback because it’s sweetened only with sugar.

So how do sugar-cola fans cope during the other three seasons? They hunt for Mexican Coke. There’s no HFCS in Coca-Cola made in Mexico – just pure, “natural” sugar.

But you’re not likely to find the words “hecho en Mexico” on a bottle in your average grocer’s beverage aisle. You’ll have to seek out a Latino establishment that has somehow managed to import Mexican Coke – which is hard to do because that’s not condoned by the Coca-Cola powers-that-be here in the U.S.

Coke execs apparently don’t want their HFCS product to appear on shelves beside their Mexican counterpart’s sugared product – people might realize there really is a big difference in taste. Meanwhile, Pepsi Throwback is nearly a straight-up admission from Pepsi execs that their product tasted better in the good old days when sugar was king.

“Coming Soon: Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback” Steve Tanner, Bevreview.com, 2/9/09, bevreview.com