These days, when it comes to the fizzy drink market, it may feel like the most popular options are always sparkling waters or seltzers. Sure, we love carbonated water, but whatever happened to good, old-fashioned soda? Hear us out: We know it’s not the healthiest beverage you could possibly enjoy, but every once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to have a can of your favorite sugary, fizzy drink.
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Whether you choose a caffeinated version to give yourself a little pick-me-up in the middle of the day or you decide to go with a caffeine-free drink that’s just supremely thirst-quenching, enjoying an occasional soda can be a nice treat. And we love the extra bit of flavor soda can give us that, frankly, sparkling water can never match.
But how do you know what kind of soda to get? Of course, there are the standards out there that we all know and love, but there are some lesser-known versions that taste just as good — if not better. That’s why we’ve decided to rank some of the most popular soda brands on the market, covering everything from colas to citrus drinks to orange soda. We’ll start with the worst and end with the best of the best. Keep in mind, though, that you might want to try these sodas out before you judge for yourself.
Let’s just be honest here, okay? Mountain Dew is not good. You probably know about Mountain Dew because of its signature lime-green color, one that looks like it belongs more in a chemical factory than it does beside your lunch. Back when Mountain Dew first got started, it may have been trendy to color foods with super-bright dyes. But these days, consumers want something that looks more natural and, frankly, digestible. On both counts, this soda definitely does not fit the bill. The fact that it looks radioactive and essentially inedible is an immediate turn-off to a lot of soda drinkers.
But what’s even worse is the fact that it doesn’t even taste good. Its lemon-lime-reminiscent flavor is much worse than other lemon-lime sodas we’ve tried, for one. And don’t even get us started on the disasters that are the other flavors, which are also aggressively colored and named. And while many sodas are on the sweet side, Mountain Dew seriously goes over the top when it comes to sugar.
Sure, it’s a classic for some, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s actually worth your time or money. If there’s one soda we recommend you stay away from, it’s Mountain Dew.
Surge is technically a Coca-Cola brand, but it has its very own identity and unique taste apart from the cola empire. And don’t think it’s anything like Coke, either. Instead, it tastes more like a spin-off of Mountain Dew. But while it may be slightly less stomach-turning, it’s still not a soda we’ll be stocking in our fridges anytime soon.
You see, this soda was a cult classic in the ’90s (via Player.One), but it eventually left store shelves. So when it came back into production in the mid-2010s, people got excited to try the drink they remembered from so many years ago. But tastes change and nostalgia doesn’t forgive all sins. We’re guessing that, for many, the actual flavor or Surge came as a surprise.
Though it may have tasted good to childlike palates in the ’90s, now it tastes unbelievably artificial. A customer on Amazon expressed the same disappointment: “I read the reviews, got curious about it, ordered it and … what a disappointment! I hate it. Almost 240 calories a can for a totally artificial flavor. Yuck!”
We agree. It definitely doesn’t taste remotely like citrus. Instead, it tastes like what massive food companies thought citrus tasted like in an era where we were all eating way too much processed and pre-packaged food. We think that Surge deserves to stay in the past.
Mug Root Beer
Before we say anything else, we just want to point out that we actually really love the flavor of root beer. Sure, it may be really sweet, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t go down smoothly when you want something that’s more on the sugary side. However, that doesn’t mean we have to like every single root beer brand on the market. Unfortunately, Mug Root Beer is just not doing it for us.
Mug Root Beer is actually part of the Pepsi brand, but it doesn’t have much in common with the well-known cola, except that there are much better brands in the company portfolio out there. The Soda Jerks summed it up with their review of the drink: “This tastes much more watery than I remember. Mug doesn’t have the ‘bite’ of Barq’s or the creamy taste of A&W. In fact, it has a muted, less impressive version of the characteristics that make the other two root beers loved by so many.”
Even though you might like seltzer, when it comes to a root beer, you definitely don’t want it to be watery in any way. While Mug Root Beer may not be the absolute worst soda on our list, we still wouldn’t waste our time with it if there were other options available.
Haven’t heard of Dr. Brown’s soda before? You’re not alone. It may not be as big as Coca-Cola or Pepsi, but it’s still widely available at plenty of stores and online. So, you may be wondering: Is it worth it to give it a try? Well, that depends on what you’re really looking for in a soda, but we would argue that you should probably just pass it up if you want the best possible soda experience available.
Dr. Brown’s is most known for its cream soda (although there are plenty of other flavors to choose from), which sadly leaves a lot to be desired. The flavor isn’t necessarily bad, but there’s nothing about it that sticks out or makes it special. Rather, it’s just kind of bland and a lot more watery than you might expect, too. The carbonation isn’t that intense, either, which may leave you questioning why you even picked up a can of this stuff in the first place.
The Soda Jerks had their own, more complementary opinion of this drink: “I personally like a smoother feel in my cream soda … I’d drink this again if offered, but I don’t see myself buying multiples.” So, no, you’re probably not going to want to spit this stuff out, but it certainly shouldn’t be your first choice.
Here’s another citrus soda that you may have on your radar: Sun Drop. If the name rings a bell, you probably remember the brand’s quirky commercials that attempted a certain kind of humor but didn’t quite succeed. Overall, this is not a great soda. However, it is better than a lot of the other, more well-known citrus sodas out there (looking at you, Mountain Dew). The actual flavor is not intense, to the point where you don’t taste the citrus much at all. This is great for those who want something a bit lighter, but don’t get your flavor hopes up too much yet.
While the citrus taste is less intense when it comes to this soda, there is a distinct downside to Sun Drop. It’s a lot sweeter than some of its citrus soda competition. The Soda Jerks pointed this out in their review of the drink, saying, “This is a little bit sweeter to me than Mountain Dew and a little less harsh on the throat.” So while, yes, it’s great that it goes down more smoothly, we definitely don’t want anything that’s even sweeter than Mountain Dew. For many, that’s literally the opposite of refreshing.
We already told you how we feel about Mug Root Beer, and it wasn’t great. But that doesn’t mean that every root beer brand out there is bad. One we like slightly better is A&W Root Beer. This is perhaps one of the most classic root beer brands out there, with a lot of name recognition. Chances are, you’ve tried one of these in your life before. We’ll admit, it’s not our favorite root beer brand of them all, but it does the trick if it’s all you can find at your local vending machine.
Still, there’s not too much that’s interesting about this brand, which does little more than offer up the root beer status quo. It’s sweet but not too intense, which means it likely has wide appeal. That being said, don’t expect to be blown out of the water by a bottle from this company.
One reviewer had this to say about the drink: “A&W is definitely a root beer tailored to the mainstream. [Its] flavor is very inoffensive and it is smooth from beginning to end with no bitter aftertaste … The flavor is average, not overly strong or weak, and is very traditional.”
There you have it. This is a plain, somewhat boring drink that you probably won’t want to go out of your way for. If you do try it, though, you’re not likely to complain.
There are several soda brands out there that offer a variety of flavored drinks. Generally, these brands are most associated with the orange flavor of their beverages, but then they add to the collection from there. Our least favorite of these brands is Crush. Crush claims to be the “original orange soda,” so we’ll give them credit for creativity. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re the best such brand on the market.
The original orange Crush is good. It’s super sweet, but it still has that artificial orange flavor you’re looking for when it comes to orange soda. However, we can’t get on board with the brand’s other flavors as much. The grape and grapefruit flavors are just okay, meaning that they’re nothing to write home about, but we would drink them if they were in front of us.
Some of the other flavors, though, just aren’t tasty at all. The pineapple? No. The peach? Don’t even think about it. And while a strawberry-flavored soda sounds good in theory, it’s really not very palatable in practice. While the flavor of the orange soda balances this brand out, overall, its selection is lacking.
Pepsi is one of the biggest names in soda, and it owns a ton of other soda brands. But you can’t mess with the original. Pepsi hit the market just 13 years after Coca-Cola, so it’s been around for quite a while. While it may be well-known now for that cringy Kendall Jenner commercial referencing police brutality (which was called out for its racial insensitivity), this soda’s flavor is still what most people think of when the brand comes to mind.
We hate to say this because we know it’s a controversial opinion, but Pepsi just isn’t as good as Coke. It’s fine on its own, with that typical cola taste, but it has some flaws when compared to the actual good stuff. It’s a bit watery, for one, and it even feels flatter than other colas out there.
At the same time, we think it also tastes less sweet than a lot of other sodas, which we appreciate. While we certainly wouldn’t turn down Pepsi at a restaurant, we think we speak for most people when we say we’d ask for a Coke first.
7UP is an iconic soda — and perhaps one of the most notable citrus sodas out there. It’s a classic brand, and it’s one that you probably won’t have problems finding at a local restaurant or a nearby grocery store. It’s so famous that it even has a game named after it (ever play Heads-Up 7UP in grade school?). The flavor is light and crisp, though it may be more on the sweeter side than many would like. It does have a lot of carbonation, however, which has earned it a higher place in our ranking for the bubbly mouthfeel.
In addition to the classic citrus flavor, you can also snag this soda brand in a cherry variety. We’re not huge fans of the cherry, though, and we’d never choose it over the original. The zero-sugar options aren’t great, either. One thing that this soda does have going for it, though? It tastes amazing when used as a mixer. If you’re looking for an easy way to bring some more flavor and fizz to your cocktails, 7UP is a really good option. Since it has that sweetness to it, it can really mellow out the harsh flavors of liquor.
Stewart’s isn’t one of the best-known soda brands out there, but you might still want to try it if you’re curious about other options. This brand is most known for its root beer and cream soda, both of which are solid. We’re going to warn you: These drinks really are sweet. But even with all that sugary flavor, we still think that this is a great brand overall.
While the root beer and the cream soda are definitely tasty, there are other flavors that you’ll likely want to try as well — and some of them are downright delicious. The grape soda is seriously really good and doesn’t taste as artificial as some grape sodas you’ll find. The cherries ‘n cream is a little out of the ordinary, which makes it a great option if you’re trying to find something new. But as far as we’re concerned, the Key lime soda is the best of the bunch.
Is this the absolute best soda brand out there? We don’t think so. But if you want to try something new and you’re curious about what Stewart’s has to offer, we think that you should give it a try.
Schweppes is perhaps one of the most recognizable ginger ale brands on store shelves. You may be thinking that ginger ale is only a good option to drink when you’re feeling unwell, but that’s just not the case. In fact, it can be delicious in its own right. While Schweppes may not live up to the status of the very best sodas on the market, we can’t deny that it does taste great.
First, there’s the classic ginger flavor, which is surprisingly light. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why it’s so celebrated as a cure for a stomach ache. While the ginger ale does have a touch of sweetness to it, the original isn’t too sugary, which we prefer. But it doesn’t stop at the original. The dark ginger ale has a deeper, richer flavor that’s a bit more complex. Sounds like a good base for a cocktail right?
And don’t worry if you’re not a fan of plain ginger ale because Schweppes also sells raspberry, grape, and black cherry versions, too. We have to admit that these flavors aren’t as good as the original ginger ale, but if you’d prefer some fruitiness to your soda, you may still like them. Our advice? Don’t write Schweppes off just because ginger ale isn’t the first soda to come to your mind.