March 28, 2007 at 9:57 am
I’ve decided to change doctors. Bye-bye Dr. Pepper and hello Dr. K. Yes, I am switching to generic brand soda.
It’s odd that I’ve been so loyal to name brands in the soda aisle when in every other part of the grocery store I buy the store brand without question. It’s cheaper and it’s usually made by the same manufacturer. Sometimes they just package the same product in different boxes, though sometimes they use different recipes and the taste may vary slightly. You’re just not paying for their advertising budget. My only exceptions so far have been fudge pops and whipped cream. The store brand fudge pops tasted like they had a coating of chocolate fur, perhaps shaved from one of those chocolate Easter bunnies. The store brand whipped cream melted in my fridge, making it significantly less creamy or whipped.
For some reason I always had a negative connotation with store brand soda. I think I had some as a kid, spit it out, and forever thought it was nasty. However, my brother said he’d started drinking the stuff and hadn’t regurgitated it. He is a poor, college student, so I guess the extra 40 cents for a 2 liter of Pepsi would mean he couldn’t do his laundry. I had also read recently that when people did blind taste tests on soda, they couldn’t accurately pick the brand formula from the generic. So if science was telling me I was being stupid to pay an extra buck fifty for a 12-pack, I decided I would at least challenge my assumptions on this topic. I’m always a sucker for science.
I steered my cart into the drinks aisle and surveyed Kroger’s 12-pack selections. I like to bring soda to work, so I buy it in the cans. Kroger could really work on their product design because all the sodas were in similar white cardboard packaging. The only difference was the color of a wavy stripe, which wasn’t large enough to make a distinct difference. I read through the titles and grabbed some Diet Dr. K, Diet Cola, and some Diet Root Beer. They were only two bucks each, so if I hated them I wouldn’t have lost much money.
I stuck them in the fridge that night and the next day opened the can and opened my mind and took a sip. It tasted fine! I was genuinely surprised. I thought I might have problems switching, like the difficult two weeks when I’d transitioned from regular soda to diet. My taste buds had been pissed at me. Every time I would take a sip of diet they’d scream “This tastes like dirty water!” The funny thing about tastes though is that you really can acquire them. After you eat or drink something for awhile, it becomes familiar and normal.
I think I will save enough on soda now to compensate for the amount that they are raising my rent in a couple months when I renew my lease. My only complaint is that Kroger doesn’t have the convenient “fridge packs” that are longer and stack the sodas 2×6. Instead they have the old 3×4 boxes. I suppose they’d have to buy whole new machinery and redesign their packaging to switch over, which might raise the cost of soda, which would betray the whole point of buying generic anyway.