Anyone who’s seen the new commercial for Dr Pepper 10 knows why it’s garnering a good bit of attention for being sexist. It’s set up like an action movie and features a male actor running through the jungle, saying that action movies aren’t for women—and neither is Dr Pepper 10. The calories in the drink are called “manly,” too, and the advice for women is to “keep the romantic comedies and lady-drinks.”
We get it, Dr Pepper execs—you’re marketing to guys. But does that mean we women can’t give Dr Pepper 10 a whirl? I decided to do a little taste testing to see exactly how women feel about it.
I wondered whether there was a real difference between the new drink and the apparently feminine version, Diet Dr Pepper. My hypothesis was that the only significant change was the packaging, which proves that the marketers have gotten one thing right: the Dr Pepper 10 label certainly wasn’t designed for women (gunmetal gray and maroon? Really?). More importantly, though, is what’s inside the bottle. Would women even like it?
After calling around to locate the stuff (Wawa sells it), I bought a few bottles of both versions and set up a blind taste test to see how nine Philly Mag women would react. Everyone was presented with small cups of soda “A” (Dr Pepper 10) and “B” (Diet Dr Pepper) and asked which they preferred and why.
Five women chose Diet Dr Pepper over Dr Pepper 10, and their reasoning was overwhelmingly similar. They all found Dr Pepper 10 to be far too sweet and, as one said, “fake diet-y.” They thought that Diet Dr Pepper was much closer to the real deal.
Interestingly enough, four women actually preferred the “manly” Dr Pepper 10. Our lifestyle editor said it had a lot of flavor, and our deputy editor preferred the slight hint of cherry. Others liked the fact that it was sweeter.
On a whim, I decided to also test four Philly Mag men to see how the product’s target audience would respond. The results were equally split. Two of them preferred the regular diet version, and one said it was because he disliked that Dr Pepper 10 smelled stronger. The other grimaced and said that he believed the Dr Pepper 10 version was “rank.” (I think he was exaggerating, but the look on his face indicated it wasn’t by much.) The other two men actually liked the sweetness of Dr Pepper 10 and said it had more taste.
Everyone involved noted the added sweetness in Dr Pepper 10, which likely comes from the addition of high fructose corn syrup (Diet Dr Pepper gets its sweetness from aspartame). The new stuff also has more calories than the regular diet soda: In a 20-ounce bottle—which technically contains two servings—Dr Pepper 10 has 20 calories (as opposed to zero in Diet Dr Pepper). There are also an additional four grams of sugar and five grams of carbohydrates.
After trying both drinks, I was surprised that Dr Pepper 10 is being marketed to men in the first place. Its sweetness made me think it might actually appeal more to women than the regular diet soda (ever seen those Truvia commercials?). And its positive reception by both male and female Philly Mag staffers indicates that it can certainly be enjoyed by everyone.
So don’t let the ads put you off, ladies. You might like this drink, especially if you’re used to full-sugar sodas. Of course, if calories are a concern, we suggest sticking with the regular ol’ diet stuff.
Or, you know, water.