Soda March Madness: Part Two

The soda march madness bracket has moved on to the second and third round.
The soda march madness bracket has moved on to the second and third round.
Ella Wachtel

Welcome back to Soda March Madness. This is the second part of this series (the first part is linked here). This episode will go through the second round and the Sweet 16, for a total of 24 games. Additionally, these games aren’t just looking at the flavor of the sodas, but popularity and branding as well.

Starting off the second round is #1 Coke and #33 Mtn Dew Code Red. Code Red almost pulls out the upset due to its cult-like following, but Coke’s classic cola flavor barely snatches the win.

Next up is #16 7up and #48 Diet Coke. 7up beats Diet Coke due to its fresh and fruity flavor, juxtaposed against Diet Coke’s artificial almost metal taste.

In the third match we have #8 Fanta and #25 Wild Cherry Pepsi. Wild Cherry Pepsi only won in the first round due to its brand, but when you look at the actual flavor of the drinks, Fanta triumphs over Wild Cherry Pepsi.

Fourth up is #9 Diet Dr. Pepper versus #41 Shirley Temple. Shirley Temple pulls out a big upset in this one, with its sophisticated feeling compared to Diet Dr. Pepper’s over-sweet, off brand taste.

In the next one we see #4 Mtn Dew and #36 Dr. Pepper Cherry. Mtn Dew is the main soda in its brand, while Dr. Pepper Cherry is only a flavor of an already small soda. Even though Dr. Pepper as a whole is making strides in marketing, it isn’t necessarily pushing the small sub-category that is its cherry variant. Mtn Dew is a soda refined over years of existence, and this gives it the win.

The next one is a lot closer, seeing #13 A&W Root Beer and #20 Sunkist. A&W Root Beer is the most middle-of-the-road root beer, having a nice balance of sassafras flavor, while still being able to produce at a large scale. Sunkist, on the other hand, is a very off-tasting orange soda, tasting closer to orange flavored sparkling water than an orange soda. A&W gets another win.

The next game is between the only two remaining non-traditional sodas, #5 Red Bull and #28 La Croix. Red Bull isn’t just a drink, it has almost evolved into an extreme sports company that also sells energy drinks. Their use of stunt planes and F1 drivers is the best marketing by a drink ever. This is next to La Croix’s calm French beach vibe, which pales in comparison to Red Bull. The energy drink wins.

Next up is #12 Mug Root Beer and #21 Orange Crush. This match will follow the precedent that A&W set two games ago. Root beer is better than orange soda, no matter the brand; therefore, Mug Root Beer wins.

In yet another big upset, we see #2 Pepsi getting toppled by #31 Dr. Pepper Cream Soda. Even though Dr. Pepper Cream Soda is a fringe flavor, Pepsi is too sweet, and its sugar gives it the loss in this huge upset of a classic soda.

Another fringe flavor that is doing well is #15 Baja Blast, and it faces another classic soda, #18 Sprite. Baja Blast is the higher seed in this one for a reason. It easily beats Sprite because Baja Blast has a more complex flavor than Sprite, even though they are both citrus sodas. The Taco Bell favorite wins this one.

The next game is #7 Pepsi Zero Sugar and #26 Cheerwine. These two sodas each have one major flaw, Pepsi Zero Sugar has a slightly watered down flavor, and Cheerwine has a regional exclusivity. But flavor is more important than availability, giving Cheerwine the win.

In a big cream soda matchup, we see #55 Dr. Pepper Strawberries and Cream against #23 A&W Cream Soda. This comes down to strawberries or no strawberries, and all strawberries do is add more flavor. Therefore, Dr. Pepper Strawberries and Cream wins.

With only four matches left in the Round of 32, we have #3 Dr. Pepper versus #30 Cherry Coke. As seen in the first round, Dr. Pepper is as hydrating as water, with the addition of all 23 delicious flavors. Cherry Coke is okay, but not great. The artificial taste causes it to fall in the same way as Wild Cherry Pepsi, which gives Dr. Pepper the win.

Another cherry soda is #46 Cherry Vanilla Coke, which is going against #51 Jarritos. From cola to guava, Jarritos has it all, and it is much more diverse than Cherry Vanilla Coke’s artificial flavors. Jarritos takes the win in this one.

For the third cherry-flavored game in a row, we have #38 Cherry 7up and #6 Coke Zero Sugar. Coke Zero Sugar is the best zero sugar soda and narrowly defeats yet another artificial cherry soda.

In the final match of the Round of 32, we have #11 Monster squaring off against #22 Schweppes Ginger Ale. While Monster is a serious contender for best energy drink, Schweppes Ginger Ale is lucky to make it this far. Had they played any soda other than RC Cola, Schweppes would be out. This is seen in this game, where Monster’s flavor variety destroys the back-up sick day drink.

To start off the Sweet 16, we have #1 Coca Cola and #16 7UP. Coke is the number one seed for a reason; it is the standard. All sodas are compared to Coke. 7UP does not have the same presence on the shelves as Coke does, and for these reasons, Coke wins.

Continuing a Cinderella story, #41 Shirley Temple crosses #8 Fanta. Sadly, this story doesn’t have a happy ending for Shirley Temple. Fanta is the first soda that Shirley Temple has gone against that actually has a shot at the championship. Fanta takes care of business with its on-the-shelf availability beating the mixed drink.

Next up is #4 Mtn Dew and #13 A&W Root Beer. A&W has a classic taste that most people would say is good, while Mtn Dew has a very strong presence and high caffeine content, which turns some consumers away from Mtn Dew as a whole. This gives A&W the upset win.

Hitting halfway through the Sweet 16, we see #5 Red Bull and #12 Mug Root Beer. Red Bull has an amazing presence; although, it is not technically a real soda, it is an energy drink. Mug Root Beer is a solid soda, and due to this, it will continue into the Elite 8 to make the root beer matchup of a lifetime.

Next is #31 Dr. Pepper Cream Soda, and #15 Baja Blast. Baja Blast’s tropical flavor gives it a leg up in this competition, as this fringe Dr. Pepper is a watery version of Dr. Pepper, somewhere between the real thing and its diet variant. This is all to say that Baja Blast will make it to the Elite 8.

Next up is the local favorite, #26 Cheerwine, versus #55 Dr. Pepper Strawberries and Cream. While a strawberry soda is rare, this one falls just like Dr. Pepper Cream Soda, tasting almost like a dusty version of Dr. Pepper. Cheerwine wins.

Speaking of Dr. Pepper, next up is #3 Dr. Pepper and #51 Jarritos. While Jarritos has a large variety of flavors, and a lock on the Latin-American market, Dr. Pepper is a superior soda, proving that sometimes focusing on perfecting one thing is better than diversifying into multiple markets. Dr. Pepper will move on to the Elite 8.

In the final match of this part, we see #6 Coke Zero Sugar and #11 Monster. Even though Monster is an energy drink, it still is better than a diet soda. This gives hat being said, the second part of Soda March Madness is now in the books. The next part will include some incredible Elite 8 games, including the battle of the root beers, between #13 A&W and #12 Mug. We will also see the hometown favorite Cheerwine attempt to continue its streak of upsets against #15 Baja Blast, as well as the outstanding Final 4 matchups that will follow. Monster the win, and technically the title of best energy drink.

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