Pepsi is known for brewing attention with limited-edition flavors. The soda-pop giant has experimented with fizzy drinks that feature hints of lime, cherry, vanilla and even coffee. Now Pepsi has released its newest flavor-Pepsi Fire. It’s a cinnamon-flavored soda that’s being marketed as “the hottest drink of the summer.” I was curious to see if that claim rang true, so I cracked open a cold one and gave it a try. Here’s what you need to know:
On the outside, Pepsi Fire looks like a hip, summery beverage. Its red-and-orange label put me in the mood to hit the beach or fire up the grill for a BBQ. I read the fine print: “cinnamon flavored cola; natural and artificial cinnamon flavor.” Cinnamon usually goes one of two ways: It can be cloyingly sweet-think sticky buns-or deliver spicy heat, like those Atomic Fireballs you might’ve had as a kid. I was hoping for something in between.
Takeaway: The packaging is cool, but I hope the fiery flavor doesn’t burn off my taste buds.
I popped the can open to pour. (Pro tip: When entertaining, I pour soda into small glasses rather than offering it up in cans. It looks nicer and helps with portion control.) I expected to see the familiar caramel brown coloring. Instead, the soda had a dark ruby hue. Pepsi Fire looked eerily similar to cherry cola, which is too sugar-packed for my liking.
Takeaway: Bright red soda is a hit or miss. Kids will love it, but the artificial coloring isn’t my cup of tea-erm, soda.
I sampled the scent before taking my first sip. (Laugh if you will, but I take my job as a soda sommelier very seriously!) The drink smelled sweet, almost like candy. No sign of cinnamon-yet.
Takeaway: If this soda’s packing cinnamon, it must be subtle.
The Big Swig
At last I was prepared to taste the fire…
…and it tasted pretty much like an average Pepsi: sweet and slightly syrupy. For those hesitant to try, it’s not hot or spicy at all. Trust me. I searched high and low for that cinnamon flavor-even swishing the cola around in my mouth for a second-but I had a hard time picking out any spice. It wasn’t until moments later, in the aftertaste, that the cinnamon flavor emerged.
A very artificial (and faint!) cinnamon spice lingered on my taste buds. It was almost as though I had chewed Big Red gum and then sipped a Pepsi. Though relieved the soda wasn’t fire-engine hot, I was a teeny bit disappointed: Pepsi Fire’s bright ombre label is bold; its flavor, not so much.
Takeaway: Pepsi Fire was fun to try, but it didn’t deliver a strong cinnamon flavor. Next time I’m looking for spice, I’ll try these cinnamon-packed recipes.
I do give Pepsi props for this attempt to switch up their act. After all, variety is the spice of life. Plus, the drink gave me inspiration for my next party beverage. It involves whiskey, Pepsi Fire and a cinnamon stick for garnish.