When we lived in the UK, we were fans of Pepsi Max. Since Viola and I were often on diets, it was a good idea to find a soft drink that we really liked. And we really liked Pepsi Max. It was marketed in the UK, where it appeared in the early 90s, especially at men. It avoided the "diet" tag, which apparently put off men, and went with the slogan "maximum taste, no sugar". When we arrived in the USA, we were surprised to see absolutely no sign of it. Every other coca cola under the sun, but no Pepsi Max. And then recently, when we were in Seattle, we saw a product called "Diet Pepsi Max" on the shelves. We concluded that it must be a North Carolinian oddity to be a Pepsi Max free area. But then two or three weeks ago, it appeared in our local Kroger, and at only $1 (50p!) a two litre bottle. We stocked up, and it's been great to be drinking it again.
My curiosity was piqued. America, the home of cola, took fourteen years to catch up with the UK here. How could this be? Well, according to Wikipedia's article on the topic (and who is to say that that is not right?), there is a reasonable explanation:
The product remained unavailable in the United States until only recently (The U.S is PepsiCo's native market, and the largest consumer of carbonated soft drinks), where one of its principal ingredients had not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The ingredient in question—acesulfame potassium—is combined with aspartame to provide the beverage's sweetness. Some people claim that this results in a better taste than that of other diet colas (most of which are sweetened with aspartame alone).Unfortunately, there is a downside. I had never realized that Pepsi Max is much heavier on caffeine than are traditional cokes. Energy Fiend has the breakdown and notes that "a 12 ounce can of Diet Pepsi Max contains 69 milligrams of caffeine" in comparison with regular Diet Pepsi, which has 36mg per 12oz can.
So we are enjoying our Pepsi Max again, after two years without it, but avoiding the caffeine overdose by drinking plenty of other new favourites like American diet lemonade (a kind of lemon squash) and diet root beer (not drunk at all by Brits, an acquired taste, but very pleasant once you are used to it). And lots of green tea.