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The official website of Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, low carb pioneers and authors of Protein Power.

What's up with 7UP?

An article by Karen Robinson-Jacobs in today’s Dallas Morning-News business section caught my eye. (Registration, if required, is free) Its title

7UP takes a natural next step: Plano-based soft drink reformulates to appeal to the health-conscious

fair took my breath away. What’s up with 7UP? Has the soda pop giant finally turned over a new leaf?

Once I recovered from my initial shock, my mind began to race with possibilities. Maybe they have decided to begin a process of dialing down the sweetness in their product for the sake of America’s health, say with a gentle move from 39 grams of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, and on down. By the time they got to zero, kids (and parents) would be drinking pure water and loving it! What a concept!

Or, miracle of miracles, maybe they decided to replace the current almost quarter-cup of health-damaging HFCS with something a tad less deadly? Say first go to plain old table sugar, which is only half fructose, instead of 55% – 90% fructose. That would be a good first step. Then they could begin to dilute the sugar with glucose syrup, bit by bit, until it became all glucose and no fructose. Since fructose is about 150% sweeter than pure glucose, this maneuver would also begin the dialing down process of the nation’s sweet tooth. Substituting 39 grams of pure glucose for HFCS would, in itself, be a good step, since glucose isn’t nearly as damaging a sugar as fructose.

From there, they could begin a slow, stepwise reduction in the glucose content from 39 to 0 and again, the nation would be enjoying lightly lemon-lime flavored water.

But as I read further in Ms. Robinson-Jacobs’ piece, I realized my hopes were not even on the drawing table. The whole rebranding of 7UP as ‘100% Natural’ is nothing but a marketing gimmick to appeal to the unwary consumer.

Compare the two formulations and judge for yourself.

Old 7UP is made with carbonated water. New 7UP is made with filtered carbonated water.
An improvement, to be sure, but a slight one.

Old 7UP is made with citric acid. New with natural citric acid.
Okay.

Old 7UP was made with natural flavors. The new one still is.

Old 7UP was preserved with calcium disodium EDTA. New uses natural potassium citrate.
Again, okay.

Old 7UP had 140 calories, 39 grams of HFCS, no caffeine, no calcium, and no protein. And in every case (even sadly the HFCS) so does the New ‘100% Natural’ formula.

Nothing new (or particularly healthy) there. But there are two things I can’t figure out. First, how did HFCS get to be ‘natural.’ I mean, clearly, it’s an engineered product–granted made from a ‘natural’ one, i.e. corn, but certainly not like anything found in nature and certainly not healthy. Besides, just being ‘natural’ doesn’t automatically make something good for you to eat. Afterall, crude oil is natural, but you wouldn’t want to eat it.

And, just on a label housekeeping note, if old 7UP was preserved with calcium disodium EDTA, then how come the label said it didn’t have any calcium in it? Hmmmm? Can’t always trust a label.

To sum up, the only difference between the old and new and natural formulations is filtered water, natural citric acid, and a ‘natural’ preservative.

Big whoop.

Surely the savvy consumer of natural products–who for the most part ought to be consumers seeking better quality foods–won’t be fooled. There’s nothing much up with new 7UP. Course, consumers seeking better quality food probably wouldn’t be seeking 7UP to begin with.

13 Comments

  1. A.K. Reinert on April 20, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    There is a lot of this sort of thing going on. Companies are reformulating products so that they can call them “all natural” and “organic” and thus get them into exclusive “Whole Foods” type stores which are becoming more and more popular, especially in the Northeast.

    We all know that the things found in those stores are not necessarily healthy. ;->

  2. Michael on April 20, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    I have to say, though, that I was quite happy when they started making Diet 7UP with Splenda instead of aspartame. It was nice to see a name brand make the switch. It was nice when Diet Coke did the same, but they didn’t seem to push it, and since they don’t (I believe) make it in the non-caffeinated form, I still don’t bother. I used to buy Diet Hansen’s, but I always found the flavor to be kind of lacking (aside from their root beer). I buy Diet Rite now…any comments on that? I don’t know how all those preservatives affect us, but since it has 0 carbs, sugar, caffeine, sodium, and aspartame, I’m all for it at this point.

    COMMENT from MD Eades: Personally, I rather like the Diet Hansens Tangerine-Lime and Kiwi-Strawberry flavors, when I have anything soda like. Mike likes the Black Cherry. The Diet Rite White Grape is good too, but all of them tend to be too sweet for my taste anymore. I wish they’d make them with less sweetener. It’s kind of pleasant to cut them 50/50 with fizzy water, though. Lightly sweet and still refreshing.

  3. Val Gandara on May 12, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    My family does not consume HFCS since some of us are corn allergic. We do not partake of any man-made chemical sweetners including aspertame or splenda because they all had bad lab rat test conclusions, even if they were fed tons of it before it killed one rat, no way my families consuming anything like that because no one knows the long term use damage from something man-made, it may build up to toxic levels after years of use.
    We are patiently waiting for the soda and snack manufacturers to either begin using natural pure cane sugar or pure natural Stevia extract to sweeten their products with.
    We even grow own Stevia now to use in many dishes, drinks and deserts.
    The only sodas that are allowed in our home or diets are the Wholefoods or SunHarvest store brands that are only pure cane sugar sweetened ones until Stevia sweetened ones eventually begin to hit the market. Try Stevia Extract it’s natural, extremely sweet and no funny taste either.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Cane sugar, natural or not, is still half fructose half glucose and all usable carb. That’s slightly better than HFCS, but still far too much concentrated carb for any carb conscious dieter to make much use of.

    Stevia is perfectly fine to use, as I’ve said many times and even blogged on before; it’s just a little trickier, since it’s a very potent bitter sweetener, which means that’s there’s a very fine line between sweet enough and bitter.

  4. Wendy Kees on June 6, 2006 at 11:33 am

    The new 7up depicts a slice of lemon and lime on the can. But at the top of the ingrediants it says CONTAINS NO JUICE.

    The new taste is supossed to be more crisp and refreshing, but I miss the old 7up’s metallic aftertaste. Could we have a new new-Coke type scandel brewing? Bring back the old 7up!!!!

  5. Danny on July 11, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    Anyone know where I can find Diet Hansen’s Strawberry-Kiwi in the Myrtle Beach, SC area? Thanks!

    COMMENT from MD EADES: If there’s a Trader Joe’s in the area, they often carry it. Costco also may have it, if you have one of those. Because it has Splenda, Whole Foods doesn’t carry it. Any grocer can get it and yours might if you ask for it. Failing that, you can order it online directly from Hansens. Here’s the link: http://www.hansens.com/store/

  6. Kagan on July 28, 2006 at 11:04 am

    I bought a package of 7-Up unaware of the fact that there was supposed to be anything new about it. All I knew was that I was thirsty so, I popped open a can and poured it into a glass with some ice. After drinking it I immediately noticed a difference in taste. Assuming that the water filter had possibly broken, I thought perhaps it was the ice I was using that altered the flavor. I then drank straight from the soda can and realized that the awkward taste was actually the soda itself! It kind of tasted like Windex or oven cleaner had been added to the formula along with some stale lemons and limes.

    I really hope this is just a joke. 7-Up was fine the way it was. At least when Coca-Cola came out with New Coke, studies proved that people liked it better than Classic Coke and Pepsi despite the fact that it was taken off the market due to consumer bias against anything NEW. But New 7-Up actually does suck. I hate it.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Actually, my guess is that you just got a bad batch of 7-Up. About the only thing new on ‘new’ 7-Up is the label, which now says natural. But the natural moniker is only valid because they replaced their chemical stabilizers and preservatives and their synthetic citric acid with ‘natural’ stabilizers and preservatives and ‘natural’ citric acid. Now it could be that those natural ingredients don’t stabilize or preserve quite as well in a heat wave as the old chemical standards they abandoned in their formula and that sitting in a warehouse or delivery truck in the 112 degree summer heat turned your can of ‘new’ 7-Up into skunk juice.

  7. c smith on October 31, 2006 at 8:59 am

    i love the old 7up help me to find it i do not like the new 7up this is like when they change coke cola and new went back to coke clasic where can i buy some thank you

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Sorry, but I don’t have a clue where you could go to find old 7UP. Moreover, I can’t imagine why you’d want to, since it’s nothing but a can of high fructose corn syrup, water, and a little flavoring and fizz. Insulin resistance in a can, if you ask me. Still, if you’re determined to destroy your health with it, you could perhaps try doing a Google or Yahoo search for ‘old 7UP’ and see what turns up.

  8. james on November 9, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    I love the new 7-Up. It tastes fresher and not as sweet.

    COMMENT from MD EADES: I haven’t checked the numbers exactly myself, but I think it’s got pretty much just as many carbs as the ‘old and not so fresh and natural’ version.

  9. Jeff Bedel on January 4, 2007 at 10:30 am

    At least here in Indianapolis, Diet 7-up has now removed the Splenda sweetened product with the Aspartame/Ace-K formula. There is no word on their website nor could I find anything when I googled numerous combinations. I’m sad about this and curious to know why they reverted back to the old formula?

    COMMENT from MD EADES: Sorry that I can’t quench your curiosity; I don’t have a clue as to why. There’s always the Diet Rite line, which, to my knowledge is still sweetened with Splenda.

  10. awsgal2 on February 4, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    Here in Sacramento, CA, the stores have just started selling w/aspertame. I loved it with Splenda, but can’t find it. I’m very unhappy and too want to know why they are taking it off the market! I refuse to drink aspertaime. Guess I’ll just drink more teas…healthier. I will keep searching why… Does anyone know of adverse effects of the Splenda? It is the 1st one of the pink, blue packet sweeteners that I have trusted myself, with a cancer background. thanks

    COMMENT from MDEADES: There are detractors to every ‘artificial’ sweetening option, yellow packets of Splenda, included, but as yet, we’ve not seen any rigorous science to indict it’s moderate use. I’ve blogged about Splenda before and you might do a quick search of my blog archives and read what’s been posted in the past. Diet Hansen’s and some Diet Rite sodas, which your grocer could order for you, are Splenda sweetened and come in a variety of caffeine-free fruity flavors.

  11. Daryl on May 29, 2007 at 1:03 am

    The taste of the old 7up out weighs the new 7up 100 to 1.
    As stated previously the new 7up tastes like windex. Nothing but crap.
    Bring back the old taste of 7up & hurry.

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Can’t say as I would know, since I don’t drink the new and didn’t drink the old.  The post was not really about the taste, but rather about the company’s disingenuous marketing technique of calling something made with the same old high fructose corn syrup ‘all natural’ as if it were something healthy.

  12. Ron on June 17, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    The original 7 UP was my favorite drink . I hate the new 7 up it taste like 7up that has gone flat.

  13. Mandi on March 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    I recently tried 7up and it was nothing like what I remembered it tasting like. I thought maybe it was the ice when I tried it fresh out of a 2 liter bottle. So, I poured some without ice. The taste of it was really gross like some of the other replies here describing it as ‘oven cleaner’ or ‘Windex’. It is what it tastes like. I guess I will be buying Sprite.

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