Coke was created in 1886 in the State of Georgia, USA. Pepsi was created in 18893, in North Carolina. Over the next century these two giants have battled it out each trying to gain the larger share of the soda market.
Does a preference for a Coke or a Pepsi divide the world? Certainly both Coke and Pepsi lovers fiercely defend their choice. But the battlefield does not lie in the outlets where Coke or Pepsi is drunk. It lies in the world of advertising. The advertising campaign of both giants always has the underlying agenda of belittling the opponent.
Many blind tastings have been held to prove the superiority of one over the other. If only the chemical composition is considered there is almost no difference between Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi is slightly sweeter and has a fruity flavour. Coke is more acidic and has a slightly raisiny taste of vanilla.
There are some other subtle differences but the taster really needs to concentrate to spot them. As you drink a Coke it flows smoothly down the throat, with the flavours being released gently. Pepsi is sharper and the flavours are released in a burst. Drinking a Pepsi is a more intense experience.
Coke is a more carbonated drink and is therefore much fizzier. By contrast Pepsi is flatter. However it may not be possible to spot this difference without having both drinks before you.
Both Pepsi and Coke have slightly different aromas. To help your nose pick out the aromas swirl the drink around as wine connoisseurs do. This releases the aromatic chemicals and if your nose detects a citrus aroma then it’s a Pepsi you’re drinking. If the aroma is reminiscent of raisins and vanilla you surely have a Coke.
Coke is slightly saltier than Pepsi. It has 33mg of sodium per 240 ml serving compared to Pepsi’s 20 mg per 240 ml serving.
Pepsi contains more caffeine than Coke and is considered to be more of a pick me up drink.
Pepsi gives you an immediate sweet citrusy hit. At first sip it is the drink that is preferred by most people. However as you proceed to drink in larger quantities you will possibly prefer to switch to Coke as it is smoother and the flavours are released gently. As the raisiny vanilla taste fills the mouth the joy of drinking Coke wins over Pepsi for a large number of people.
Studies show that the difference between Coke and Pepsi lies not in the taste but in the profile of the diehard fans of each drink. The Red brigade – the Coke fans – consider themselves a cut above all others. If you drink only Coke then you are part of the elite – welcome to the club. The Blue brigade – the Pepsi people – they just know that those Coke guys are just snobs who can’t tell the difference between a Coke and a Pepsi, but are masquerading as taste connoisseurs. The situation becomes an ‘us versus them’ situation.
Coke has always -since it was the first to come on the scene- had a larger share of the market. There being not much difference in taste it comes down to the question of branding. The Coke branding is more valuable and that is why Coke commands a greater share of the US soda market. In 2011 Coke had 17% of the market and Diet Coke 9.6%. Pepsi had only 9.2% with Diet Pepsi holding only 4.9% of the market.
Both giants today are being forced to diversify as the health food trend is pushing carbonated drinks, with or without sugar, right out of the market. Today it’s all about fruit and energy packed drinks.