Sierra Mist Performs Another Sweetener Switcharoo, Angers Fans Again

A sweetener switcharoo happens when a soft drink company swaps out the sweetener that customers are used to and substitutes something else, usually a small amount of a non-caloric sweetener. We’ve previously shared customer outrage when this happened to Seagram’s ginger ale and Sierra Mist, when companies sneaked in small amounts of sucralose (Splenda) and of stevia respectively. Now Sierra Mist maker PepsiCo has changed things up again, rebranding Sierra Mist as Mist TWST, and switching the sweetener out for high fructose corn syrup.

You may remember when Sierra Mist marketed itself as a “natural” soft drink sweetened with cane sugar. Stevia does come from a plant, which is why the previous Sierra Mist bottle could say “No artificial sweeteners” on its label and keep up its “natural” marketing and technically be true. (The Food and Drug Administration calls them “high-intensity sweeteners.”)

Readers with even longer memories will remember when Sierra Mist originally took the high fructose corn syrup out, back in 2010, saying that going “natural” was one way to differentiate itself in the market. “Natural” was as much of a meaningless marketing buzzword when it comes to food then as it is now, but customers really liked the sugar-sweetened lemon-lime soda.

We thought at first that the company planned to keep both versions on the market: Sierra Mist for both of the people who like the sugar-stevia blend, and Mist TWST for everyone else. We even spotted them side by side on a supermarket shelf:

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It looks like that won’t be the case: the Sierra Mist Facebook page now redirects to the TWST page, and several annoyed beverage lovers make their way there each day. Also, there were articles back at the end of 2015 in marketing publications about the pending change, even though they didn’t begin phasing in TWST nationwide until late April of this year.

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We contacted Pepsi to ask about the change and whether original Sierra Mist will be discontinued, and they didn’t respond. If they send us anything, we’ll update this post.