Sodas Made With Real Sugar

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: December 20, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

When sodas first originated, like Pepsi and Coca-Cola, they were made using real sugar from sugar canes or beets. For many years, that remained the case. However, at one point, most of the American soda industry decided to opt for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a sweetener instead.

Now, the world’s becoming more health conscious, and people have once again begun to question which ingredients are healthier. Whether your go-to soda contains sugar, HFCS, or even honey as a sweeter, there are many options in today’s world.

Keep reading the article below to find out about some of these options!

Pepsi Throwback

Pepsi Throwback, now called Pepsi-Cola Made With Real Sugar, is a popular PepsiCo product that prides itself on using natural sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In a world where most soft drinks are made of HFCS today, Pepsi Throwback is very refreshing with its authentic taste.

The sugar in this soda is derived from cane and beet sugar. Due to these ingredients, Pepsi Throwback tastes sweeter than regular Pepsi. 

It was first introduced in 2009 for a limited amount of time. At the same time, Mountain Dew Throwback was introduced as well. After testing the waters, PepsiCo brought these sodas back for a limited-time offer on and off. In 2011, PepsiCo finally announced that both Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback would be made permanent additions to PepsiCo products.

real sugar pepsi

Mexican Coke vs American Coke

The biggest difference between Coke made in the U.S. and Coke made in Mexico is the sweetener: the former uses HFCS, whereas the latter uses cane sugar.

It’s a well-known fact that Mexican Coke contains real cane sugar. Additionally, its popularity has risen so much over the past few years that Mexican Coke is available in some Costcos. 

During many taste tests, people could tell there was a difference between Mexican Coke and American Coke, many even preferring the former. However, the sugar and HFCS can’t be the only reason these Cokes taste different. 

For one, they are both packaged differently. For example, Mexican Coke often comes in a slim glass bottle with a metal cap. In contrast, American Coke can be found in either plastic bottles and caps or aluminium cans. The glass bottle helps maintain a fresher taste and, thus, makes Mexican Coke more effervescent and delicious. 

Another added benefit of Mexican Coke is that the addition of cane sugar in this cola only adds to a cleaner and more refreshing taste. This is because cane sugar is less processed than HFCS, making it more natural tasting and less artificial than American Coke.

However, after looking at the nutritional labels for both Cokes, we found there was more of a difference than just cane sugar and HFCS. For example, for the same serving of 355 ml of Coke, American Coke contains 140 calories and 45 mg of sodium. In contrast, Mexican Coke contains 150 calories and 85 mg of sodium. 

The caloric difference is because of the different sweeteners used. Still, the difference in sodium levels is also a potential reason. One plausibility is that Mexican Coke contains more sodium bicarbonate, which gives the soda its fizz. This amounts to a higher level of sodium and effervescence in Mexican Coke than in American Coke. 

made in mexico coke bottles

Sugar vs High Fructose Corn Syrup

For a long time, sodas were made of real sugar from sugar cane or beets. However, it was in the 1980s that most soda brands in the U.S. shifted to HFCS instead of real sugar as their sweetener. 

HFCS is a sweetener made of corn that is widely used in the food and beverage industry, especially in sodas today. In the 1980s, soda companies began using HFCS instead of real sugar because it was cheaper. 

Over the past few decades, there has been a lot of controversy about whether sugar is a healthier alternative or HFCS. At first, soda brands shifted to HFCS to save money, and no one complained much. Additionally, HFCS also has a longer shelf life and enhances flavor more than sugar.

In recent years, though, people have debated whether HFCS is the best option. To them, sugar is a natural option, so people have begun to lean towards it again. However, sugar and HFCS are more or less similar regarding health and sweetness.

Regular sugar contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose. On the other hand, HFCS usually contains 55% fructose, water, and glucose. Thus, both ingredients contain a lot of sweetness. What’s certain is that high amounts of either can lead to health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and liver problems.

Thus, whether or not you drink sodas made of real sugar or HFCS, it’s best to have them in moderation and to watch out for your health and blood sugar levels.

corn syrup

Real honey vs Real sugar sodas 

Many ingredients have been used as sweeteners in soda, especially real sugar from canes and beets, and HFCS. Another new addition to this list is honey as a sweetener in sodas.

Although few famous soda brands have started using honey as a sweetener, the process has still begun for smaller soda brands. Two such brands are Green Bee All Natural Sodas and Fresh Fizz Sodas.

Green Bee Sodas originated because the founder, Christopher Kinkade, wanted to simultaneously create a healthy alternative to sodas and help the bee community. Thus, he made sodas out of freshly pressed juices and used honey as a natural sweetener instead of sugar cane or HFCS.

Some of the flavors by Green Bee include Ginger Buzz, Blueberry Dream, Green Tea, and Honeycomb Cider. These flavors are made of all-natural ingredients and contain much fewer calories than most soft drinks; for example, Ginger Buzz contains 70 calories per bottle. 

Fresh Fizz Sodas is another company based in New York that makes its sodas from fresh ingredients like fruits, spices, and herbs. It also uses honey as a natural sweetener. Some of its flavors include Sparkling Mint Lemonade, Hibiscus Ginger Ale, and Black Cherry Cola. 

They have not only utilized honey as a sweetener in some of their sodas, but their flavor Black Cherry Cola uses maple syrup instead. One 350 ml can contains just 70 calories, so these sodas are good alternatives to regular sodas. 

Is honey better than sugar as a sweetener?

When comparing sodas made with honey against sodas made with real sugar, it’s important to talk about which one is more beneficial and why. Honey contains more calories than table sugar. However, it contains many nutrients, antioxidants, and other properties, making it a better fit than regular sugar. 

Honey has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels as much as sugar does. In addition, it tastes sweeter than sugar, so a lesser amount can go a long way. Honey also contains more antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. All these reasons make it a better fit as a sweetener than sugar.

However, honey still contains a lot of added sugar, so you should consume it in moderation. This is especially necessary if you are at risk of health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and heart problems. 


Even if HFCS is a much more popular sweetener in sodas today, soft drinks made of real sugar still exist. Some examples include Pepsi-Cola Made With Real Sugar and Mountain Dew Throwback. 

However, consumers have become more health conscious these past few years. Thus, soda brands have even begun using healthier sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. 

As the world evolves and tastes change, soda brands develop innovations to keep up with the changing demands. Right now, people are all about being healthy and eating naturally. In a few years, however, this trend might change once more. But don’t worry! You’ll always find drinks from the past to take you back to the sodas you once loved so dearly.