On Dec. 28, 2009, PepsiCo released a new line of soft drinks called Mountain Dew Throwback and Pepsi Throwback.
The marketing of these new products relies on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, giving the labels a vintage 1970s feel.
Those who have tried the new product comment that it tastes just like it used to in the old days.
The taste they are referring to is the difference between the use of real sugar, as used before 1984, and the high fructose corn syrup that has been used ever since. So what has prompted the release of the Throwback soft drinks? Was it just a marketing strategy or does it have something to do with the current debates linking high fructose corn syrup consumption and the increased incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and liver disease?
According to Pepsi, the release of the Throwback Pepsi and Mountain Dew beverages were not due to any health concerns.
Pepsi spokeswoman told BevReview.com not enough people know about HFCS.
“There is a lot of misinformation circulating about HFCS,” she said. “But the truth is that it’s made from corn and contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives. HFCS is essentially the same as table sugar and is metabolized the same.”
What are the facts concerning HFCS?
HFCS is produced using cornstarch, which is processed into a syrup form. Enzymes are then added, which changes the sugars in the syrup from very high glucose content to an almost equal glucose to fructose ratio.
Glucose and fructose are both called monosaccharides or simple sugars. Combined, they make the disaccharide called sucrose, also known as table sugar.
Most soft drinks contain 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, which is the same ratio found in table sugar and various other naturally occurring foods such as honey, fruits and vegetables.
Since its introduction to the market in the 70s, HFCS has steadily gained popularity with food and beverage manufacturers who value the low cost and preservative effects of using it.
This resulted in a flux of convenience foods processed with HFCS and Americans were increasingly consuming them. According to a review in the Nutrition & Metabolism Journal, the use of HFCS has increased an alarming 1000 percent between 1970 and 1990.
So, if HFCS has the same sugar composition as table sugar, why is it getting so much negative attention in regards to health?
The reason is that researchers started to notice a correlation between increased HFCS consumption and increases incidence of obesity and diabetes after the time that HFCS hit the markets in the 70s. Some of the theories are based on the idea that fructose does not have the same effect on the body that glucose does.
Many researchers are exploring the possibility that fructose doesn’t chemically satisfy hunger the way glucose does.
The lack of hunger satisfaction and excess fat production translates into excessive weight gain, which puts people at higher risk of diabetes and liver disease.
Research is still new but it is not likely that HFCS is to blame for the increase in obesity and diabetes in the U.S. It is more likely the overuse of HFCS and sugar in general. It is virtually inescapable in the marketplace. Foods such as ketchup, tomato soup, yogurts, baked goods and salad dressings all contain HFCS.
Experts recommend that it is not so important to focus on the source of the sugar so much as the amount you are consuming. The USDA recommended daily allowance for sugar is 40 grams, which is equal to one 12 oz can of Pepsi, according to pepsi.com. Also, keep in mind that the calories and sugar content are very comparable in both the regular Pepsi and Mountain Dew vs. the Throwback versions.