A ketchup infused with cola. It wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste – and has sparked strong reactions on social media – but the unusual product is just the latest move by PepsiCo to play up the culinary credentials of, um, its flagship soda.

PepsiCo partnered with CIA Consulting to launch Pepsi Colachup, the world’s first Pepsi-infused condiment. Appropriately timed to launch on 4 July, the product was available for one day only across selected baseball stadiums, giving fans the opportunity to add the iconic sweet, refreshing taste of Pepsi cola directly onto their hot dog.

The partners seemed keen to show the condiment was not merely a wacky flavour combination intended to make news headlines (though, of course, it did); rather, for them, the concept was well thought-out from a sensory perspective.

For CIA and PepsiCo, the classic pairing of American hot dogs and fizzy beverages not only has nostalgic appeal but is genuinely appetising.

David Kamen, director of client experience for CIA Consulting, claimed “[t]he distinctive flavours and vibrant citrus blend of Pepsi enhances the bright and tangy characteristics of ketchup, offsetting the smokiness of the hot dog”.

Whether one agrees with these comments or not, Colachup represents the latest stage in PepsiCo’s #BetterWithPepsi campaign, which seeks to establish the company’s namesake CSD brand as the best soda to complement food. Past campaigns have, for example, sought to prove that pizza and burgers go #BetterWithPepsi, taking an unapologetic aim at its fierce rival Coca-Cola.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData

The campaign can also be said to tap into consumers’ desire for beverages to form part of an overall consumption experience that often includes food.

More than four in ten (43%) global consumers, for example, are always/often influenced by product packaging that displays food and drink pairing recommendations, a GlobalData consumer survey conducted in the second quarter showed.

Meanwhile, almost half (46%) are routinely influenced by product information that offers recipe inspiration for food and drink products.

Evidently, consumers, even if they may not necessarily have had a cola-infused ketchup in mind, often look to brands for ideas as to how individual food and drink items can be enjoyed together in a new and unexpected way.

While the concept of food and pairing is typically associated with wine or, more recently, cocktails and beer, it is comparatively less developed in non-alcoholic drinks – especially mass-produced soft drinks.

There is no doubt a tongue-in-cheek element to Colachup. However, it gives food for thought to the potential that might exist to explore ways in which to facilitate “everyday connoisseurship” among those consumers looking to elevate even the most laidback dining experiences.

If food and drink pairings are credibly communicated and thoughtfully prepared, there is no reason why a soft drink manufacturer cannot follow in the footsteps of Cabernet and steak, or Stout and pie, and create its own iconic pairing.