From the “Surprisingly Doesn’t Suck” Category

Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper. Tastes pretty much exactly like a chocolate-covered cherry, but, you know, carbonated. Yeah, that doesn’t sound appealing to me either, but I thought I would try it, and it really does work. I think it’s carbonated more than regular Dr. Pepper, which I think is key; I’m not a huge fan of the standard stuff because I think it kind of lingers in an aftertaste-y sort of way, which I put down in part to insufficient carbonation. Yes, I think about this stuff too much.

This particular soda also reinforces my theory that cherry-related diet sodas are so sweet that you almost can’t tell they’re diet. When I first switched over to diet soda, I went with Diet Cherry Coke to fool my brain into thinking I wasn’t trying to dose it with aspartame. It clearly worked. This stuff, you could give to people and if anything, they’d probably think it has too much sugar. For a diet soda, that’s some sort of victory.

63 Comments on “From the “Surprisingly Doesn’t Suck” Category”

  1. GAH!!! This sounds horrid, but if it works for you.

    I grew quite fond of room temperature Dr. Pepper for a while. The belches from that – nay, the eructations! – were spectacular!

  2. I pointed out the Dr. Pepper flavor to my wife and she thought it was the most disgusting idea ever. I may have to try it now, just to watch her cringe as I drink it in front of her.

  3. Yeah, straight up Dr. Pepper tastes like some sort of sweetened dish soap to me.

    This flavor combo doesn’t exactly ring my bell either, but it might be worth a shot I suppose. Some people say cheddar cheese on apple pie is a winner, but that I don’t think I’ll ever try. Some flavors were just not meant to be mixed pre-esophagus. :)

  4. Failing in your responsibilities as an American Consumer?

    You may be single handedly keeping the Yucky Niche Soda Nobody Should Have Created market alive.

    Taking one for the team. Well done sir.

  5. I tried that stuff and just couldn’t deal with it. It’s a carbonated square peg attempting phytochemical union with my round-hole brain receptors. Apparently.

    Funny. I’ll bet that it works really well for some people, and not at all for others. Not like colas, which work pretty well for almost everybody.

  6. My wife brought home a 2 liter bottle of that yesterday. It’s tasty, but it is almost like some sort of non-alcoholic after dinner cordial. It is so sweet tasting that I don’t think I could drink more than a 4-6 oz glass of the stuff.

  7. Dean:

    “I’ll bet that it works really well for some people, and not at all for others.”

    Yeah, that’s how it worked here. Neither Krissy nor Athena was much impressed with it.

  8. Sounds interesting. Is it caffeinated? (Sadly, caffeine and my ADD meds don’t get along well, which limits my soda choices drastically. Especially in the diet range.) I was rather fond of the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper lo those many years ago.

  9. That stuff is just barely drinkable. On the other hand Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper is great stuff. It’s four great tastes in one!

  10. Brad J:

    It is caffeinated. Sorry.

    The other day I found out that Diet Sunkist is caffeinated too. Who the hell caffeinates an orange soda? That’s just weird.

  11. …that’s bizarre, yes.

    The oddest caffeine situation I’ve found so far is that regular Barq’s root beer is caffeinated, but Diet Barq’s isn’t.

    (Which is a blessing, since Diet Barq’s is tasty stuff and provided in the refrigerators at work.)

  12. I like Dr. Pepper, but I can’t help but snicker any time I see a soda with three or more separate classifications. Why not add some vanilla on top of it? Why not make it green?

  13. Going on two weeks soda free and I have to say I rarely miss it. Savings wise it’s about a 2.50 to 5 dollar a day savings which is a bit much for fizzy water. Haven’t had to up my coffee intake to compensate for the caffeine either.

  14. #3: That’s the kind of prejudiced thinking that prevents people from trying things like peanut butter and sardine sandwiches, or Spam and Velveeta. And if you don’t try them, you never know what you are missing.

  15. From my previous life working in the pharmaceutical industry, at the company which at one point owned Nutrasweet (although I never worked on those projects), I can pass on this wisdom: Aspartame at the very least (I don’t know about Sucralose or Cyclamates or Saccharine) has its flavor activated by acids, especially citric acid.

    That’s why diet colas generally suck flavor-wise more than diet lemon-lime, cherry, orange, etc. The sourness you want in a fruit-flavored drink works perfectly with Nutrasweet.

  16. You know, I saw this flavor in Target the other day. I picked up a 12 pack and thought to myself, ‘how could you go wrong with chocolate and cherries?’

    Oh, you can go very wrong with chocolate and cherries. Oh yes, you can. To use a phrase very near and dear to your heart, John. “It tastes like ass.” (to me, anyway)

    Honestly though, I think it’s my body’s reaction to dealing with aspartame. I was really sick for awhile after I started drinking diet drinks and couldn’t figure out why, until I stopped. Then magically, all the symptoms went away.

    Glad you enjoy it, though. Want the rest of mine? ;)

  17. I miss my “Raspberries and Cream” Dr. Pepper. It too sounds disgusting but I really enjoyed it, and yet now I can’t seem to find it. I think perhaps it was replaced with this Cherry Chocolate flavor, which I haven’t been able to face up to yet.

  18. I tried this soda last weekend thinking all the way to the moment the drink touched my tongue that it was regular ol’ Dr. Pepper. (I got it for free at a university event.) Weirded me out at first but I liked it.

  19. My wife likes it to the point where she had to stop drinking it, as her system wasn’t used to so much soda. She’s now switched back to her regular addiction, straight up milk chocolate.

  20. Since this is a democracy and we all get to vote I must come down solidly on the “UUUUUGGGGHHH!!” side.

    Horrid! Heinous Horrid (word starting with an ‘H’ that means “stuff”)! And this from a guy who actually likes most diet soda, with the exception of the short-lived Pepsi Blue.

    As said above, the Vanilla Cherry Dr. Pepper was surprisingly good. Maybe there is something genetic going on like being able to smell asparagus urine.

  21. JJS: That’s a peanut butter and sardine sandwich with Velveeta, Heinz ketchup, French’s yellow mustard — oh, and some bread in there somewhere. Not a hoax — I’ve eaten such a sandwich. Yum. We used to open a can of kippers or sardines every Saturday, but alas, not very often anymore. But after New Year’s, there’s the herring in wine sauce which goes in sandwiches mighty fine.

    Spam would work, too, I suppose, but if I was going for luncheon meat I’d go with hard salami, Wisconsin summer sausage or head cheese.

    Dr. Phil

  22. I don’t know if NYC is a test market, but I have bought Cherry Coke Zero in the Duane Reades there. Has that flavor made it out to Ohio?

  23. I’m going to go with John on this. I love this new flavor to DDP. But then again, I think I keep the niche markets alive (all of them). My vice for the past 5 years has been Diet Mt Dew Code Red, which tastes far, far, superior than Dt Mt Dew regular, IMHO.

  24. Again, this reminds when Pepsi tried marketing Pepsi Blue a while back. It looked to me like carbonated toilet water and I found the taste bleahhh.

    Also, my sister works for a magazine that has a food and drink section and she was sent some sampler cans of a new Pepsi product that was not yet being sold in stores called Pepsi Deluxe. It came in two flavors, Creme Caramel and Strawberries and Creme.

    I tried both flavors and while you could taste the caramel flavouring I could hardly pick out the strawberries.

    While they did not in my opinion suck, I won’t be buying any when they do come on market.

  25. Patrick V:

    They must have come to market because I’ve seen both in the local convenience store. It’s possible we were in a test market area, though.

  26. I don’t know why you’d think that Dr. Pepper is insufficiently carbonated, because it’s the only soda on the market around here that comes with a warning to the effect that you should be careful when opening it and never point it ant somebody’s eye because it’s so darn carbonated. Does your bottle carry the warning? Have people seen that on other sodas?

  27. Well, I haven’t had the CCDDP yet, although I am a Dr. Pepper drinker. But on the subject of cheeses, I have had a lovely fudge made primarily of Velveeta! Beat that!

  28. Nathan, Too:

    I am repulsed and fascinated by the concept of Velveeta Fudge (which, incidentally, is the name of my next band). Do tell.

  29. Dean [#5] “Not like colas, which work pretty well for almost everybody.”

    I’m glad you said “almost”. I put colas in the same category as lightly-singed battery acid, maybe with a dollop of shoe polish. Of course, about the only carbonated soft drinks I actually like very much are root beer, creme soda, and orange soda (all very sparingly), so I’m obviously not the person the soft drink makers are marketing to anyway.

  30. I love the DCCDP. I want to marry it and have its carbonated sugar-free babies.

    I figure I’ll be good and addicted to it around the time that “limited edition” run ends and it disappears forever.

  31. It’s actually pretty good, as long as you can get around the smell while you’re cooking it. If you can talk someone into making it while you’re away, then coming home after the smell is dissipated and the fudge has sat in the fridge a bit, then it tastes wonderful. You wouldn’t know it’s made of cheese at all. If you’re around while it’s cooking tho, you smell cheese. I mean, you REALLY smell cheese. You’ll have to wait till the next day to eat it, to clear the cheese smell from your nasal passages. I can post the recipe if you like, or email it.

  32. My taste buds still haven’t recovered from my experiment with this concoction two weeks ago. Although I do give it kudos for the very obvious chocolate flavor. But the aftertaste was… fiery dragon-breath worthy.

  33. Velveeta Fudge


    * 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
    * 8 oz Velveeta, cubed
    * 1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar (about 5 cups, unsifted)
    * 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
    * 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
    * 2 tsp vanilla extract
    * 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts


    In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cheese cubes together, stirring frequently: remove from heat. Sift together confectioner’s sugar and cocoa; add to cheese, mixing well. Stir in nonfat dry milk, vanilla, nuts. Turn into a 9x9x2 inch pan; chill until firm and cut into squares. Makes about 3 pounds of Velveeta Fudge.


  34. I am repulsed and fascinated by the concept of my fifteen minutes of fame being that I prompted John Scalzi to link, on his homepage, to a recipe for Velveeta Fudge; and furthermore, that I supplied him with said recipe; and furthermore that he requested that I provide him with said recipe. What a day.

  35. Velveeta fudge is excellent! I made it for the first time this Christmas using a fairly similar recipe. I made a batch to give away to people at work, but my family liked it so much I had to make a batch for home as well. It is so rich and smooth, I liked it much better than traditional fudge. Though I have to say it does look rather disgusting during various stages in the process of making it.

  36. Just curious, on the subject of Velveeta Fudge, in the form of a poem:

    If it stinks while preparing, and
    If it looks disgusting while preparing, and
    If it’s prepared
    with a generous amount of,
    you know, Velveeta,

  37. My diet soda staple is Diet Rite Cherry Cola; it would be perfect if it were caffeinated (yes, I am a caffeine aficionado).

    As for Velveeta Fudge:
    Sounds like pure evil; I will definitely make it for the next food day at work.

  38. Regarding both Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper and Velveeta fudge: gah!

    The first sounds sickeningly sweet (plus I don’t like diet drinks – I’d rather have less of the real stuff) and the second is an abomination against humans and G-d and should not be borne.

  39. As somebody who lived in a test market for a while, I will say that New York probably isn’t— while parts of Ohio probably are. It’s because there is a concept called a “media island” which means a location which gets its radio and television from one primary source, without any bleedover to or from other areas. If you live in Seattle, for example, you can pick up Tacoma radio and television stations and vice-versa. But if you have a media island— such as Spokane, on the east side of Washington— you don’t have baffled consumers going to the store wondering why they can’t find Jello Pudding Pops (test-marketed in, yup, Spokane.)

    Spokane has a bit of a reputation as a podunk kind of place when you’re on the West Coast, but really, it’s cutting edge. It’s one of the first television markets to broadcast in HDTV (in 1999.) It’s the first place they tried out cable internet (in fact, we were one of the first fifty customers nationwide— and baffled cable companies for years afterwards by not only owning our own modem, but owning one made by U.S. Robotics.)

    So you might be able to spot a test market in your state if you know which cities or large towns are kind of off by themselves. And when you visit, you might be able to get your hands on something that you really can’t get anywhere else!

  40. Re: the test markets:
    –Is it possible that Pepsi Deluxe is the non-diet version of Pepsi Jazz? Cherry vanilla’s good; strawberry and cream sort of sucks; creme carmel’s tasty.

    And Chocolate Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper is like dessert, but in carbonated liquid form, and with zero calories. Mmmmm….

  41. In the summer of 1980 they were test marketing a walnut flavored soda called ‘Dr Nut’ in Tucson AZ. I was visiting there for about a week and tried to get a cola out of a vending machine but a can of Dr Nut dropped instead. I figured ‘what the hell’ and tried it. It was actually pretty good so I bought a six pack to share. Everyone I gave one to liked it as well, but I never saw it again.

  42. Mmmmmm. That Velveeta fudge looks tasty. I will have to cook some of that up.

    Is there an emoticon for the Homer drooling face?

  43. At the risk of looking like a beverage pusher, I’ll tell you all there’s a site called that lists for sale a number of the hard-to-find drinks people have written about here.

  44. I got to try this through an on-line survey – they sent me a couple of pony bottles. This was last year at about this time, and I really liked it – glad to know it’s out there. As Elilzabeth@16 said above, there was something tootsie-roll-ish about it. I knew it tasted somehow familiar at the time, but couldn’t put my finger on it.

  45. According to a recent CBC News article, researchers at Purdue have determined that drinking diet pop can actually lead to weight gain.

    As they say, correlation does not mean causation, so I’ve been trying to get more details on the study.

    For example, perhaps being overweight leads to drinking diet soda. Or maybe there is a third factor which causes both – maybe people who know they are prone to gain weight are more likely to drink diet soda to prevent that but still gain weight.

    I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I will say that once, based on advice over the internet, I switched from diet to regular soda for a month. I gained a little weight instead of losing weight. One thing else happened, my consumption of soda decreased, because a couple sugar sodas filled me up whereas diet soda did not.

  46. I have always been a huge fan of Dr. Pepper, so my viewpoint is always biased in that direction. I am even critical of the oft produced imitation versions available in grocery stores across our land; Dr. K. Dr M. etc. (Kroger and Meier stores).
    When the Cherry Vanilla flavour came out, it was like manna from heaven for me. I still prefer it, and it was our “champagne” of choice this past New Year’s Ever (none of us drink alcohol). I was excited about the Cherry Chocolate flavour. Boy, I was dissapointed. They somehow managed to kill the taste of Diet Dr. Pepper. You pointed out the sweetness, I found it to be way to sweet. The pleasant flavour of the “chocolate covered cherry” you mentioned died by large degrees once the diet component kicked in. A friend asked how it tasted to me; as he took a drink I called it “Cherry Chocolate Starfish” Dr. Pepper.

    His response was amusing and explody.

  47. I tried the Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper and I’m one of those who can’t drink it. The first sip was alright but every sip after that tasted nasty.

    We have an almost full two-liter of the stuff here because no one can stomach it.

  48. Jones Soda. Asparatame and HFC free. A flavor for everyone.

    I have this thing about “diet” anything, really. Why not just consume less of something actually worth consuming?

    I am going to be looking into a gizmatron that allows you to make soda at home “for less.” (or do you just drink more soda?) I have a problem staying hydrated; I just hate drinking water.

    But put bubbles in it and suddenly, it’s gone. Sugar, flavorings- nice at times but beside the point.

    However – as far as I’m concerned, even the best soda is a poor second cousin to a half-decent beer. BTW, “Steel Reserve” is excellent, if you run across it. And I speak as a Canadian – trained beer drinker.

    (So you are American, eh? What’s a good beer to try? Max, set my man here up with a couple Hi-Tests!)