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The Street
The Street
Daniel Kline

Top Coca-Cola and Pepsi rival adds a bizarre new soda

Soda companies pull a lot of stunts to get your attention.

Coca-Cola has been inventing new flavors working with celebrities. That's not about creating the best soda possible, it's about getting fans of that artist to be more aware of the brand and buy some sodas they may never actually open. 

Nobody — even the electronic dance musician's — biggest fans really wanted Marshmello to create his take on Coke Zero Sugar. But, he has, and it's a well-done publicity stunt. It's not all that different from McDonald's offering Celebrity Meals so fans can order just like BTS or Cardie B.

Related: Another fast-food operator files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Coca-Cola KO is, of course, not alone in pulling these kind of publicity stunts. Rival PepsiCo PEP also works its own stunts like partnering yearly with Little Caesars to bring back its Pineapple Pepsi and sometimes bringing back failed 80s products like Crystel Pepsi.

There's a fine line, however, between novelty and good idea. Coke, for example, tried new flavors of Diet Coke, new energy drinks, and a line of coffee-based sodas. None of those actually worked, but the intent was for each one to be a serious attempt at extending the brand.

Now, a rival of both Coke and Pepsi, Keurig Dr Pepper KDP, has a new soda flavor that's unlike anything offered by its two rivals. It's a bit of a publicity stunt, but it's also a subtle attempt to see if customers would like a soda with a different-than-usual flavor profile.

Keurig Dr Pepper operates a number of well-known brands.

Image source: Keurig Dr Pepper

Keurig Dr Pepper tries a slightly spicy soda

While Coke and Pepsi have worked to offer less sweet takes on their famous brands, neither company has used spicy as a way to counteract sweet. That's exactly what Keurig Dr Pepper is doing with its latest beverage.

Popular Instagram personality Snackolator was able to try to limited-edition Dr. Pepper Hot Take, and they actually liked it.

"This flavor takes everything that's great about @drpepper and kicks it up with spicy peppers to give it an extra punch. I was very lucky that Dr. Pepper sent me a sample and I have to say I love this — it has enough heat that you notice it but not too much that it hurts to drink it," they wrote.

The social media influencer actually believes the drink, which is part of a special promotion, should be available year-round.

"If you want a chance to grab a can, head over to and you can win this through their Pepper Perks program via an online scratch off ticket or by purchasing it with Pepper Perks points," they added.

Dr. Pepper has been a growth product

While Dr. Pepper may not have the cache of Coke or Pepsi, it has been a platform for the company that carries its name. Keurig Dr Pepper has steadily introduced variants of the popular soda to strong success.

"In U.S. Refreshment Beverages, 82% of our business outpaced category growth in the quarter," said CEO Robert Gamgort. "Dr Pepper built on the momentum of Strawberries and Cream earlier in the year, with a successful sixth season of the iconic Fansville marketing campaign."

The CEO made it clear that innovation would continue across the company's portfolio.

"Our robust 2024 innovation pipeline has been well received by the trade and spans product, format, and packaging news. It captures a combination of value and premium price points as well as low and no calorie and indulgent beverages. We also continue to price nimbly across the entirety of our portfolio, including by leveraging our strong mix management capabilities," he added.



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