We Tried Starry, Pepsi’s New Lemon-Lime Soda—Will It Beat Sprite?

Is Starry soda that much different from other lemon-lime drinks?

Ready to reach for the stars? Starry soda has arrived. The new caffeine-free lemon-lime drink is Pepsi’s replacement for Sierra Mist. Pepsi hasn’t been resting on its reputation lately, with Pepsi S’mores, Pepsi Nutmeg and Nitro Pepsi all shaking up the cola world, so it’s only natural that the company’s getting jiggy with its lemon-lime offerings, too.

Don’t cry for Sierra Mist, it had a good run. That particular lemon-lime beverage came out way back in 1999—ancient history for a soda. Maybe the clunky, two-word moniker didn’t help matters, nor did a brief two-year name change to Mist Twist. Starry is starting with a clean slate and a pretty bright name.

What’s Different About Starry Soda?

Starry Lemon Lime Soda Bottles and CansCourtesy PepsiCo

How is Starry different from Sierra Mist, other than the name? Sierra Mist was made with real sugar, while Starry is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Shouldn’t Pepsi be switching the other way around, replacing HFCS with real sugar? One would think so, but one would, for whatever reason, be wrong.

It’s not exactly clear why Pepsi decided to replace Sierra Mist with Starry, but Gen Z, they’re gunning for you with this one. A statement from the company said the drink is made “for a generation of irreverent optimists,” and that sounds like they’re going after the young ‘uns among us.

Sure, some of us are cola people, endlessly arguing the merits of Pepsi vs. Coke. But others love citrusy sodas, whether lemon-lime, grapefruit or some variation. It feels like an overcrowded market to me, what with 7-Up, Sprite, Bubble Up, Mountain Dew, Fresca and Squirt, but here’s one more thrown into the mix. Of course, I had to try it.

Here’s What I Thought

I tried regular Starry, zero sugar Starry, and for comparison, also sampled some Sprite. Sprite, of course, is Coca-Cola’s clear, lemon-lime soda, so a huge competitor of the new Starry.

Not to space out, but regular Starry was just OK. It’s almost a bit spicy for a lemon-lime drink and not as sweet as its competitor, Sprite. Pepsi says Starry has a crisp taste, and I’ll agree with that.

Sprite not only tasted sweeter than Starry, but has a smoother finish. Maybe because Coke’s been working on it longer—Sprite came out in the United States in 1961, so they’ve had plenty of time to get the taste down pat.

Zero sugar Starry actually tasted a bit smoother than its full-sweetened version, but with a definite diet aftertaste. When I pitted the three directly against each other, regular Sprite came out on top. Sorry, Starry, blame it on the fact that I’m Gen X, not Gen Z.

Where Can I Get Starry?

Starry is available in stores nationwide, and I’m already seeing it shining everywhere in my local markets. So if you see the stars come out in your own soda pop section, go ahead and give it a try.

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Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is a pop culture junkie and the co-author of Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops and The Totally Sweet '90s. She covers TV, movies, books and pop culture, as well as food news of all kinds. Gael is a weblog pioneer who started her first blog, Pop Culture Junk Mail, in 1999.