We all know that we're not really supposed to drink soda anymore. It's full of sugar, artificial colors, and all kinds of other ingredients that no one cares to look up in their free time. However, there is still something kind of magical about soda. The way it releases that first bit of gas when you open a new can or bottle, the way the bubbles tickle your tongue, and the variety of flavors that are available throughout the world all make soda a pretty great treat. However, there are so many sodas out there, it might be hard to determine which one is the best. Should you get Dr. Pepper or Pibb Xtra? Coke or Pepsi? Sprite or 7 Up?
Well, we here at TheRecipe have done the dirty work of ranking all of the major soda brands out there so you can know when you're getting your money's worth, and when the drink you chose is going to fall flat (that's a bit of soda humor there). We've chosen to ignore all the unhealthy aspects of soda in this article, and instead just celebrate it for what it is: a great treat that can be enjoyed in moderation. Some of the sodas on this list are regional, so if you ever find yourself in the areas where they are sold, you'll know whether to try or deny! So grab a glass, throw some ice in there if you want, and pick out your favorite soda, because now we bring you 25 sodas ranked from worst to best.
25 RC Cola
RC Cola (short for Royal Crown Cola) is a regional drink often enjoyed in the south, and there's a reason it never got any more famous than that. The drink leaves much to be desired, and could never dream of competing with Pepsi or Coke. It is often described as having a weak flavor and leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. While it still holds its place in the world of sodas, it's not going to be winning over any new fans any time soon.
24 Mountain Dew
What is Mountain Dew supposed to taste like? It might be sweet and citrusy, but that's never really been its main selling point. After all, Sprite and 7 Up tout their lemon-lime flavors as a selling point, but Mountain Dew is a lot more ambiguous. It's overly sweet, and even the color is far too unnatural to be appealing. In recent years it has done its best to appeal to gamers and represent the "extreme" lifestyle, which makes it more insufferable than anything else.
We all know Fresca. It's the drink your grandma has in her fridge at all times, ready for guests. While not the most terrible soda in the world, Fresca is just kind of boring. It's the original diet soda, so it utilizes artificial sweeteners, which give it that signature diet taste. However, it is helped a little bit by using grapefruit as its main fruit flavor. It's a nice change of pace from other citrus fruits, and the bitterness of the grapefruit actually works fairly well with the sweetener.
22 A&W Root Beer
There are a lot of different types of root beer out there, and for your money, the worst of the bunch is actually A&W. While the company has famously sold itself on the quality of its root beer, the store-bought variety tends to have a cloying sweetness and overpowering vanilla notes. It doesn't have the sharpness of Barq's or the more complex flavor profile of Mug. It's probably good for a root beer float, but as for drinking on its own? You can do a lot better.
21 Pepsi Twist
Pepsi Twist was a short-lived Pepsi flavor which combined the disappointment of Pepsi with the taste of artificial lemon (and lime in some other countries). The drink was only sold in the United States from 2000 to 2006, and it's easy to see why. The novelty of the drink wore off fairly quickly. The fact of the matter was that people didn't really want to go out of their way to drink Pepsi that had a tiny bit of citrus zing (barely enough to even register on the taste buds). If they wanted something with lemon, they'd grab a Sprite or 7 UP.
20 Pibb Xtra
Pibb Xtra, once upon a time known as Mr. Pibb, is a Dr. Pepper wannabe, never reaching the same heights of popularity as its degree-holding competitor. Pibb Xtra is strange mostly because of the name. Instead of the stately Mr. that used to adorn the label, consumers are instead treated to the late 90s "cool" spelling of "xtra." The flavor leaves a lot to be desired, and if there's actually anything "xtra" in there to make it better, we haven't found it.
19 Crush Grape Soda
From its not-quite-the-same-as-an-actual-grape grape flavor to its "this soda will definitely stain your couch" color, there's nothing really special or desirable about Crush's Grape Soda. After all, if you really want a fruity soda, the Orange Crush is usually right there next to it. Grape Soda may be sweet, and it is definitely way too sweet, but the flavor it tries to pass off as being "grape" hues to close to the flavor of grape medicine and tastes purely artificial.
18 Schweppes Ginger Ale
Schweppes Ginger Ale is exactly what you want from that kind of soda. It has a mild ginger flavor, offset by a lot of sweetness, and a more than decent amount of carbonation. The only reason this isn't ranked higher is that it's just so predictable. When you open a can of Schweppe's, you know what you're getting. That's not always a bad thing, but ginger ales haven't always been seen as the most exciting soda to begin with, so it would be better if Schweppes delivered something that made it stand out.
17 Mug Root Beer
Mug Root Beer scores slightly higher than A&W root beer because it manages to deliver all of the flavors you want from a root beer without leaning too much into the sweet side of things. Mug isn't afraid to embrace the flavors that make root beer such a signature soda, letting the sassafras root and other spices do their work. The sugar in Mug root beer acts to enhance those flavors, rather than to downplay them. As far as store bought root beers go, this is not the worst choice.
Pepsi is the pretender to the throne of Colas. For years, it tried to position itself as being superior to Coke, only to fall short in every conceivable way. How exactly does Pepsi fall short? For one thing, it doesn't have the same complex cola flavor as Coke, relying far too much on being over-sweetened. On top of that, its carbonation is distinctly less pronounced, giving it a smooth yet flat taste. Overall, Pepsi will always be number two when it comes to the cola wars.
Cheerwine is a regional soda, sold throughout the southeastern United States, but known most prominently in the Carolinas. Cheerwine is a refreshing, cherry flavored soda that delivers a great hit of fruity flavor. It's sweet, but not in a cloying way, and it leans more into the flavor of the fruit, giving it an almost punch-like quality. Unlike other fruit-flavored sodas, Cheerwine really does taste like fresh cherries. If you ever find yourself in Charleston, make sure to pick up a bottle. You won't be disappointed!
14 Dr. Pepper
Dr. Pepper is a mystery to most people. It claims to have a combination of 23 flavors, but trying to figure them out is anyone's best guess. However, they do all come together to create a flavor profile that is at once mysterious and pleasing. There are plenty of legends as to how the flavors came about, but the only thing that's really clear is that if you want a soda that is a little more complex than your average cola, reach for a Dr. Pepper.
13 Fanta Orange
Fanta was, for a time, not much of a US thing. You had either Sunkist or Crush orange sodas and that was it. However, back in 2001, the Coca-Cola company reintroduced the beverage to the United States. Fanta has come a long way since its controversial roots in 1940s Germany, and its flavor has only become more enhanced. However, it falls short of being the best orange soda because it doesn; quite pack the same kick as some of the other ones on the market.
12 Vernors Ginger Ale
Vernors is the king of ginger ales. Rather than relying on sweetness to deliver its flavor, Vernors leans heavily into the strong ginger flavor that ginger ale is supposed to have. It's carbonation and flavor profile make Vernors one of the best-tasting sodas, let alone ginger ales, on the market. It's a testament to how popular a soda can be without relying on sugar. Vernors is the perfect ginger ale for people who have grown bored with Canada Dry or Schweppes, and want something with a little more life in it.
11 Cherry Coke
There are a lot of people out there who would say cherry flavor ruins a perfectly good coke. However, this is simply not true. While it does seem that the cherry flavor would, at first glance, completely ruin the balanced cola flavor, it actually seems to enhance it, delivering a new flavor profile that is familiar yet different. Coca-Cola has experimented with other flavors, but other than one combination (more on that later), cherry coke still stands as the best.
10 Barq's Root Beer
When it comes to root beer, it's hard to beat Barq's. Unlike Mug and A&W, Barq's doesn't try to hide its flavors behind a lot of sweetness. Instead, it puts the sassafras and spice right out there on front street, delivering its signature "bite." There's no doubting that if you want a root beer with a more complex flavor profile than other brands, You have to go with Barq's. They might have introduced other drinks like cream soda, but for our money, the root beer is still the best choice.
9 Jones Cream Soda
Jones is the cool older cousin of commercially available sodas, the kind who plays guitar and introduced you to Pearl Jam. It's never had to sell itself out to keep making a product that is great. The crowning jewel of this wonderfully alternative soda company is, of course, their cream soda. Unlike the other, pink-dyed cream sodas out there, Jones delivers on both sweetness, complex flavors, and a more appealing clear color. If you want a cream soda, you'd be doing yourself a huge favor by picking one of these up.
8 Vanilla Coke
You might think that there would be no way to make Coke taste better, but you would be sadly mistaken. Vanilla Coke is the perfect blend of cola flavor with just the barest hint of vanilla to add a little extra something to the proceedings. The sweetness factor of this soda can, at a time, be a little too much, so you probably wouldn't want to drink more than a can, but in limited servings, Vanilla Coke really is something kind of special.
7 Jarritos Pineapple
If you ever find yourself enjoying some tacos from a food truck or at a local restaurant, then you might be inclined to order a Jarritos, the classic soft drink that hails from Mexico. However, if you're unsure of what flavor to get, take our advice and always go with the pineapple. It doesn't have quite the same sweet kick as other pineapple sodas like Crush or Sunkist, but what it lacks in punch it makes up for with the purely natural pineapple flavor enhanced by the use of actual sugar for sweetening.
Sprite is refreshing, clear, bubbly, and contains just the perfect hint of lemon-lime flavor. However, it falls short of its twin 7 Up just slightly. This is because Sprite doesn't have quite the same amount of citrus kick as 7 Up, instead leaning more on its sweetness. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that the flavor Sprite just doesn't pop quite as much. There are plenty of variations on the flavor of Sprite, such as cranberry and peach, but the original is still the best.
5 Tahiti Treat
Tahiti Treat is as elusive as it is delicious. Sometimes you can find it on the shelf at your local grocery store, sometimes you don't see it for ten years and almost completely forget about it. However, this delicious soda should always be remembered. It combines the fizzy bubbles of a soda with the fruity sweetness of punch, but somehow it becomes more than just the sum of its parts, delivering a drink that rises above its components. It's signature red color looks great in a glass, served up on ice with a fruit garnish.
4 Dad's Root Beer
In the pantheon of root beers, one brand stands head and shoulders above the rest: Dad's. It's distinctly old-fashioned labeling and tendency to be sold in glass bottles gives it the kind of old-timey feel that other root beers don't often deliver. Dad's root beer delivers on all the proper fronts that a good root beer should: sweetness, fizziness, and the perfect amount of sassafras flavor that gives it the signature root beer taste. If you have a chance to get your hands on one of these, we say go for it!
3 Orange Crush
From its bright orange color to the tangy sweetness of its flavor, Orange Crush is just about a perfect soda. It delivers fruity flavor without being overbearing and is practically the perfect compliment to any snack. Really though, it's that color. While it may not be the same yellowish tone as natural orange juice, there's just something about the bright, neon orange of every bottle of crush that makes you crave one. As far as fruit-flavored sodas go, Orange Crush is the tops. R.E.M even named a song after it.
2 7 Up
7 Up may just be the most refreshing soda out there. With its effervescent lemon-lime flavor and the perfect amount of sweetness, it comes in at number two on this list simply because it's, well, simple! There is no need for added color or any sorts of bells and whistles (although 7 Up has introduced several variations, including cherry and tropical). 7 Up is good enough on its own. That being said, the short-lived tropical flavor was also very good.
Was there ever any doubt that Coca-Cola would end up being the number one soft drink on this list? Sure, there are those out there who say Pepsi is better, but they are flat out wrong. Coca-Cola has always provided a sharp, sweet, refreshing cola flavor without laying it on too thick. While the sugar content is high (very high), Coca-Cola lets it balance out the other flavors, rather than overpowering them. In short, Coca-Cola has persisted because it is just so good. Coca-Cola truly is the king of all soft drinks.