Calling all soda fans. Are you curious about what beverages can and cannot be consumed on a gluten-free diet? I’ve got you covered.
I was curious to know, is Pepsi gluten-free? I went straight to the source and dug deep to get some answers.
While the beverage does not have any certifications or gluten-free claims, the company states that Pepsi Cola does not have any gluten deriving or containing ingredients. However, the 1893 Pepsi cola is an exception as this contains malt and is not safe for anyone on a gluten-free diet to consume.
Read on to take a closer look at the ingredients and determine what other flavors are gluten-free and what variations aren’t.
A Bit Of History
It all started in New Bern, South Carolina, where the pharmacist Caleb Bradham invented and sold the beverage. At this time, Pepsi wasn’t Pepsi. The drink was first named “Brad’s Drink.”
As the drink gained popularity, the owner thought the name needed more originality, so he switched to Pepsi Cola. It is rumored that the inspiration for this name came from a once main ingredient called pepsin, an enzyme known to aid food digestion.
However, Pepsi has claimed pepsin was never an ingredient. They state the inspiration came from the word Dyspepsia, meaning indigestion, as Bradham was under the impression that his drink alleviated it.
In 1903 the name was trademarked, and within ten years, the soda was enjoyed in 24 states.
Today, Pepsico owns the soft drink, a company paired with the snack conglomerate Frito-Lay. Together they are one of the leading food and beverage companies worldwide.
Check out this video to see what Pepsi is like in the UK compared to the United States.
While Pepsi has maintained the same flavor, ingredients have slightly changed throughout the years. Today the drink consists of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, caffeine, citric acid, and natural flavors.
Read on for a further breakdown of each ingredient to ensure that it is indeed gluten-free.
1. Carbonated Water
This is the most self-explanatory ingredient on the list. This is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas which gives the soda its bubbles. I try to avoid drinking soda (or pop) and replace it with soda water; this quenches my craving for fizz without all of the excess sugar and chemicals.
Pro Tip: You can spruce this up by adding lemon, lime, or a bit of juice to your favorite brand of soda water. Several companies make these beverages pre-flavored and sugar-free.
2. Hight Fructose Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener made from cornstarch, and it can also appear under the names glucose-fructose, isoglucose, and glucose-fructose syrup. Cornstarch is a fine white powder produced from parts of corn grain and is naturally gluten-free.
3. Caramel Color
Carmel color is a widely used food coloring in beverages and gives Coca-Cola its deep brown hue. Carmel color is created by heating carbohydrates such as inverted sugar, molasses, malt syrup, and more. It is generally gluten-free in North America, and if it contains wheat, it must be stated on the food label per the Food Allergen Labeling and Protection Act.
4. Phosphoric Acid
Phosphoric acid can also appear as orthophosphoric acid; remember this when you put your label-reading skills to use in the future. This ingredient is an odorless liquid that gives the beverage an acidic and tangy flavor.
I immediately think of coffee when I hear caffeine, but several soft drinks contain this ingredient.
Caffeine used to be a naturally occurring ingredient in many cola soft drinks as the producer used kola nut, which naturally contains caffeine. The kola nut is known as a wonder fruit in many African countries and can be found in the tropical rainforest region of Africa.
However, this is no longer a common ingredient in Pepsi. When this was omitted, they needed a replacement to give the drink the same flavor that the caffeine was supplying.
Though it does not say where the caffeine in their drink is derived from, it is most likely synthetically made. This is produced from urea and chloroacetic acid; both are gluten-free.
6. Citric Acid
Citric acid is a compound that is naturally found in citrus fruits. It comes from corn, beet sugar, or molasses and is highly processed when manufactured. This is used as a flavoring agent as well as a preservative and is gluten-free.
7. Natural Flavors
This will be a frequent ingredient you see in many food and beverage products. Natural flavors are used in products to enhance the flavor of the beverage or food. According to the FDA, these are derived from fruits, vegetables, plants, and animal products below.
- Fruit or fruit juice
- Vegetable or vegetable juice
- Edible yeast
- Herb, bark, bud, root, leaf, or similar plant material
- Meat, seafood, poultry, eggs
- Dairy products or fermentation products
Is Diet Pepsi Gluten-Free
If diet Pepsi is your go-to soft drink, there is no need to worry. You can rest assured that it is gluten-free. The ingredients only slightly differ from those in the original, and you can also purchase this caffeine-free or in the wild cherry flavor.
Are Other Pepsi Flavors Gluten-Free?
It doesn’t just end at the diet variations. You can find the beverage in various options that are also gluten-free. These include the following:
- Pepsi Mango
- Pepsi Wild Cherry
- Pepsi Real Sugar
- Pepsi Zero Sugar
- Pepsi Zero Sugar Wild Cherry
- Pepsi Zero Sugar Mango
- Pepsi Caffeine Free
1893 Pepsi Cola
The 1893 Pepsi Cola is throwing it back with some of the drink’s original flavors. Make sure to steer clear of this beverage as it contains malt. Malt is normally derived from barley and other glutinous grains.
The full ingredients list is Kola nut extract, dark brown malt flavor, bitters, sparkling water, and real sugar.
Is Coca-Cola Gluten-Free
Let’s face it; you are either a Coke or Pepsi fan, am I right? If Pepsi isn’t your first choice or you are fine with switching it up when Pepsi is out of sight, Coca-Cola is an excellent alternative as it is also gluten-free.
The Coca-cola company offers a range of flavors and other soda products that you can enjoy on a gluten-free diet. Check out my recent article, and I will walk you through all of the ingredients and their other gluten-free flavors.
Go ahead and crack open a can of Pepsi; it is gluten-free along with many other Pepsi flavors. Just beware of the 1893 Pepsi Cola addition as this contains malt, which is not gluten-free. Coca-Cola is an excellent alternative if you’re looking to switch it up.
Looking for a drink that can take the edge off? Check out my top 10 gluten-free beers.