It’s not every day that you taste a new soft drink and immediately think “I have become the victim of a bait and switch.” That just happened to us at the Paste office just now, taste-testing this new version of Dr. Pepper.
Yes, this is Dr. Pepper “Dark Berry,” but it was presented in our lovely press kit as being “Mystery Flavor Dr. Pepper.” It came with an invitation to partake in a mystery taste test, and sure: We’re game for that. We blind-taste booze at Paste all the time. So we poured out some blind samples of “Mystery Flavor” Dr. Pepper, and each taster attempted to suss out what kind of flavors we were experiencing, in addition to the plethora of 23 flavor additives that already make regular Dr. Pepper pretty damn complicated.
Our guesses? They veered both close to the truth (“raspberry,” “cherry”) and far from it (“pineapple”), but we were conducting this taste test with at least one assumption in mind: That the “mystery flavor” would be just that—a flavor, singular. Rather, when we pulled off the label to reveal the actual mystery flavor, we were confronted by the unexpected nature of “Dark Berry”—a combination of black cherry, blackberry and black currant, which no one could possibly have expected.
Does this seem a little unfair, in terms of asking people to guess a “mystery flavor”? We’d say so. But regardless of our consternation with the name, the product itself isn’t half bad.
Dr. Pepper “Dark Berry” presents as both sweeter and fruitier than your standard Dr. Pepper soda. There’s a pronounced impression of roundness on the palate—some of the spicy edge of a standard Dr. Pepper has been smoothed away with a greater focus on blackberry and black cherry fruitiness. A note of vanilla enhances this impression, making one think of a dark cherry or blackberry pie. It’s fairly sweet, but thankfully not cloying, even to tasters who are now used to drinking zero-calorie soft drinks. It seems like a reasonable fruity indulgence.
So all in all—not bad, Dr. Pepper. A bit of a BS move to attempt to have people guess something that is both misleading and un-guessable, but for a Spider-Man: Far From Home tie-in, this is a solid summer soda.