Our Favorite Zero-Sugar Soda Won't Make You Miss The Original

Zero-sugar sodas are a growing market for nearly all major soft drink companies. In recent years, you might've noticed a shift in branding from diet to zero-sugar (although some sodas still come in both diet and zero versions). Zero is apparently a more appealing moniker for people who want to avoid sugary drinks but don't like the restrictive connotations of the word diet. No matter what you call them, soft drinks without sugar still need to taste good. Although there are numerous zero-sugar versions of popular sodas on the market, one in particular can hold its own against the original: Dr Pepper Zero Sugar.

Dr Pepper Zero Sugar hits the elusive pinnacle that all sugar substituted drinks aim for — it tastes nearly identical to the original. Drinking a fully flavored sparkling soft drink with a taste that doesn't smell or taste like chemicals is the goal when we reach for sugar-free refreshment, especially when it has a familiar brand name.

Dr Pepper's famous 23 flavors might be a secret to zero-sugar success

It's no small feat to create a sugarless soft drink that can make consumers satisfied. Along with the challenge of replacing the satisfying and familiar taste of sugar in a drink with artificial flavors that add unpleasant aftertastes, as it turns out the mouthfeel of a drink is also a key to enjoyment. High-fructose corn syrup and sugar are much denser than artificial sweeteners, making the mouthfeel of the zero-sugar varieties noticeably different to the brain, even when we're not consciously aware of it. Food scientists are looking for a solution to that problem, but meanwhile they've noticed that some flavors are so exciting that they can distract us from the mouthfeel problem.

Could Dr Pepper's famously not-cola flavor be a factor in zero-sugar success? Pharmacist Charles Courtice Alderton concocted the original version with a huge (and still secret) combination of 23 flavors. Some people describe the soda as having complex notes of dry raisin or prune, amaretto, vanilla, citrus, and hints of spice. Those flavors might not be your jam, but if you happen to agree that Dr Pepper Zero Sugar tastes pretty good, you might want to thank your brain for making it all possible.