In the beer world, it’s often said that strawberry is one of the most difficult fruits for a brewer to work with, as its delicate flavors can easily be lost or driven away in the brewing process when working with fresh fruit. This gives strawberry a somewhat exotic image, a fruit for only the best to work with.
In American soda like Dr Pepper? Well, I can only imagine that working with “strawberry” is probably a bit more simple, considering the flavor is coming out of a bottle, rather than exposure to any actual, earthly fruit. And indeed, if you were worried about a new launch like Dr Pepper Strawberries & Cream being “too subtle,” then I can allay those fears right now. Trust me, you won’t be searching for the strawberry flavor.
The soft drink brand today announced Strawberries & Cream as the latest member of its permanent portfolio, amusingly (and hyper specifically) calling out its status as “the only strawberry and cream flavored dark soda in the market today.” So watch out, other dark sodas! Strawberries & Cream is coming for ya. The company says the new flavor is essentially the original 23 flavors of Dr Pepper, “swirled with layers of refreshing stawberry flavor and a smooth, creamy finish.” It’s on shelves now, being sold primarily in 12 oz. 12 packs.
So with that said, let’s taste the stuff and see how uncanny a valley these strawberries fall into.
On the nose, Dr Pepper Strawberries & Cream is effusively sweet, reminiscent of a strawberry milkshake blended up with butterscotch candies. I’m also getting more red fruit suggesting cherry, likely from the original Dr Pepper recipe, and traces of hard-to-place spice. The original Dr Pepper profile is obviously more spice forward, but much of that distinctive character has been washed away here by the intensity of the strawberry.
On the palate, this is intensely sweet and syrupy in texture—perhaps they’d prefer that sensation described as “creamy,” but it strikes me more as being like soda that has already been reduced into a syrup to be used as an ice cream topping. The flavors are over-the-top ripe strawberry and strawberry flavored cough syrup, with nothing else (except vanilla) really able to penetrate through all the noise. The sheer sweetness of it is nigh overwhelming, and it feels like the “serving size” would be somewhere around a single sip.
So in other words, it’s any new soft drink gimmick. These newly flavored releases are always redolent in hype, artificial flavors and an absurd amount of sugar, and this one is no exception. If you love strawberry flavored candies, you may find it a welcome indulgence. Anyone else will likely make it a sip or two into the can before giving up.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.