Was Sierra Mist replaced? Yes! The familiar lemon-lime flavored soda you’ve sipped since 1999 has been supplanted by a new lemon-lime soda called Starry in 2023.

When I first stumbled across Starry at my Walmart, I thought it was one of those fancy new probiotic sodas my wife loves. Nope! It’s PepsiCo’s latest mass produced soda that’s available everywhere from convenience stores to fountain drink machines right now.

Why did Pepsi decide to discontinue Sierra Mist after a 20+ year run? The catalyst for the rebrand appears to be poor sales. According to reports in Newsweek, the competitor Sprite is earning 5 times the sales volume of Sierra Mist. PepsiCo decided it was time to make a roster change in this important beverage category that’s been growing since 2019.

starry 20 oz bottle

Starry is available anywhere soda is sold.

Starry is a caffeine-free beverage. There are two options for Starry: original and zero sugar.

Does Starry Actually Taste Different?

A spokesperson from PepsiCo stated Starry has more citrus flavors and has a more balanced and cleaner finish than Sierra Mist. I picked up a 2 liter at my local Walmart to find out if these claims were correct.

My findings? Personally, it was hard to tell the difference in flavor between Starry and its predecessor. One difference is has Sierra Mist always tasted a little bit flat to me. Starry seems to have been able to remove this after-taste and provides drinker with something a little more punch in a good way.

Overall, I think you’ll like this new lemon-lime soda and it’s worth giving Starry a try. I even added some ice and a lemon-lime wedge to extra fancy with it as you can see below.

Starry with lemon lime

Starry with lemon lime wedges. Fancy!

The flavor enhancement isn’t all marketing hype though. There are actually some key differentiates in the product that go beyond a new label and into the soda.

Starry VS Sierra Mist: Different Ingredients 

The primary difference in the ingredients between the two sodas is the type of sweetener used. Sierra Mist was made with cane sugar, while Starry uses high fructose corn syrup. Sierra Mist was the only mass produced lemon lime soda on the that that used cane sugar.

Some consumers perceive cane sugar as a more natural and healthier sweetener compared to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Also, some consumers prefer the taste of can sugar over corn syrup. I guess you can’t make everyone happy all the time.

Additionally, PepsiCo added a slightly higher quantity of citric acid in Starry, which likely contributes to its crisper, more citrus-forward taste.

starry zero sugar

You can also pick up a Starry with zero sugar.

How much does Starry cost? 

Starry costs about the same as any other soda from PepsiCo and competitor Coca-Cola. Here’s the breakdown at my local Walmart:

  • 20 oz. bottle: $2.28 ($0.114/oz cost)
  • 2 liter bottle (67.628 oz.): $1.98 ($0.0293/oz cost)
  • 12 pack of 12 oz. cans: $5.98 ($0.0415/oz)

Surprisingly, the 2-liter bottle at $0.0293 per ounce is the cheapest option and therefore the best deal among the three options. If you want to maximize your soda investment, go with the 2 liter.

If you want a beverage that’s cold, you’ll need to grab the 20 oz. bottle out of the fridge and consider the higher price a convenience charge.

starry cans

12-packs of Starry cans.

Can You Still Find Sierra Mist Anywhere? 

If you love Sierra Mist, you’ve still got time to find the soda, but the clock is ticking. As mentioned earlier, PepsiCo has officially discontinued production of this beverage, but you might still be able to find some so you can stock up before it’s gone forever.

At this point, I am no longer seeing Sierra Mist in my local grocery stores or at Walmart. The inventory has already been witched over to Starry. But don’t lose hope! You may be able to find it at a discount retailer like The Dollar Tree that specializes in selling discontinued merchandise.

You can also head to a website like eBay where you order a variety of 6-packs and 2o oz bottles and two liters. I’m seeing a 6-pack go for $29.99 and 2 16.9 oz bottles go for $22.00. Also, all the listings are beyond the official expiration date at this point.

If you want to enjoy one last sip of Sierra Mist, it looks like you’ll be paying a premium for it. But the longer you wait the more difficult it will be to find. Do you think the extra cost is worth it?

Will Starry Be Able to Lure Drinkers from Sprite?

It’s unclear if Starry will be able to take market-share from established lemon-lime drinks like Sprite and 7up.  According to Statista, 47% of all soda drinkers enjoy Sprite. A staggering 94% of the United States population is aware of the brand. Even if Starry was able to claim a few percentages of the drink-share it would likely be viewed as a success by PepsiCo executives.

Why do you soda-drinkers like Sprite so much? The taste of course. Sprite is known for its crisp, clean, and refreshing lemon-lime flavor, which many people find enjoyable and refreshing. Sprite was introduced to the public in 1961 to compete with 7up.

starry 12 pack

12 pack of Starry.

Over the years Sprite has been able to keep drinkers captivated with their much lauded marketing campaigns that regularly feature hip-hop artists and athletes. For example earlier this summer Nas, Rakim, Latato and GloRilla starred in fresh Sprite creative paying tribute to the past, present and future of hip-hop. A remix of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” – the first-ever hip-hop song to hit the Billboard Top 40 – is infused with memorable bars from the cast of old-schoolers and contemporary artists and anchors the campaign with a rapping, time-traveling love letter to the music that has shaped popular culture over the last five decades.

Related Reading: 25 Compelling Craft Soda Industry Statistics and Trends 

A.P. Chaney, Creative Director for Sprite North America, said the brand’s longstanding hip-hop credentials are unmatched. “Our resume speaks for itself,” Chaney said. “Sprite took a chance on hip-hop before it was cool, and has always been of the culture, not only for the culture. We’ve shown up for both moments big and small, amplifying the endless possibilities of the now-omnipresent hip-hop lifestyle and its profound impact on music, sports and fashion. So, it’s only fitting that we pay homage to all hip-hop has been, is and will be.”

Let me know if you’ll be swapping out your Sprite for a Starry anytime soon.

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