There are tons of "diet" sodas available these days. But what about sodas that taste like the real thing and are actually good for you?
That's where Olipop comes in. They market themselves as a better alternative to the sodas we all grew up drinking (think old school cola and root beer).
When I first heard of Olipop I was skeptical. I've tried my fair share of low-sugar and low-calorie soft drinks—all of which I thought never really tasted like their traditional counterparts.
However, when I heard that Olipop was infused with plant fiber, prebiotics, and other botanicals, I was intrigued. Could this truly be a better alternative to the sugar-loaded sodas I'd given up long ago?
There was only one way to find out...
In this review I'll walk you through my experience trying Olipop—what I enjoyed, what I didn't, and if it's actually worth it.
What Is Olipop?
Olipop is canned soda (12 oz) that uses alternative plant-based ingredients to mimic the tastes of traditional, classic sodas.
How Olipop Got Started
While it may seem like Olipop is an overnight success, that is only because the two founders have been working together in the consumer drink industry for over a decade.
Their first foray into the world of "healthy" drinks came with Obi, a probiotic soda, back in 2013. After exiting in 2017, they wanted to get back into the functional beverage space but only if they could figure out a way to go above and beyond what they had previously achieved with Obi. As David said in this Forbes article, "We decided we were only going to do it if we can do it 10 times better."
Recent advancements in microbiome research, paired with their previous experience in the space led them to start experimenting with more advanced formulas that combined prebiotics with new plant-based sweeteners and gut-health ingredients.
What's Inside Olipop? A Look At The Ingredients
Each can of Olipop has 2 to 5 grams of sugar, 9 grams of fiber, 6 to 7 gram of net carbs, and is around 45 calories.
What's surprising is the fact that each can has more fiber than a cup of Raisin Bran cereal.
Without going into too much detail, fiber is important because it slows down the digestion of sugars and starches. This helps prevent large blood glucose and insulin spikes, which can lead to weight gain (among other things).
Fiber is the reason why you can eat a bunch of fruit loaded with sugar and not gain weight the same way you would if you were to drink the equivalent amount of sugar in a traditional can of soda. The sugar from the fruit tends to be absorbed into the blood more slowly because of its fiber.
Olipop sodas have plant-based, organic, and non-GMO ingredients that are used to create a sweet flavor profile, aid in gut health, and provide nutritional benefits not usually seen in traditional sodas.
Here's a deeper look at the core ingredients found in most of their drinks:
- Jerusalem Artichoke: Not related to artichokes, but rather a tuber, this vegetable is used for its "clean sugar". This means it can be consumed in moderate amounts without increasing glucose.
- Marshmallow Root: An herb native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, Marshmallow Root has many uses, including aiding in digestion, pain reliever, and promoting overall skin health. It was once used to make marshmallows due to its sweet flavor profile.
- Cassava Root: This root vegetable is the underground part of the cassava shrub. It's known for being loaded with fiber and resistant starch, which can boost gut health by helping nurture beneficial gut bacteria.
- Calendula: Often used in tea form, research suggests that calendula may have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Kudzu Root: Used in Eastern medicine for many years, Kudzu Root has some surprisingly interesting benefits including possibly alleviating menopausal symptoms and reducing alcohol dependence.
- Chicory Root: Packed with prebiotic fiber inulin, Chicory Root Studies have shown its possibility to aid in bowel movements, improve blood sugar control, and support weight loss.
- Nopal Cactus: Also known as prickly pear cactus, Nopal Cactus is loaded with antioxidants. What's even more interesting is that a 2004 study found strong evidence that it can even prevent hangovers.
- Slippery Elm Bark: Slippery elm is a tree that is native to North America. It has been used to aid coughs, sore throats, and IBS.
In addition to the above ingredients, each individual soda contains juice to help create the flavor, as well as miscellaneous ingredients such as himalayan pink salt and stevia to give the flavors more depth and sweetness.
Every ingredient, found in every drink, comes with its own risk of allergy or side effects. Having tried a dozen of the drinks that Olipop offers, neither myself or my wife had any side effects or bad reactions during or after drinking them.
That being said, you may want to look into each of the above ingredients to determine if you might have any adverse reactions or allergies.
What Diets Does Olipop Fit Into?
Olipop is one of the few sodas that are diet-friendly due to being low-calorie, low-carb, and nutritionally balanced.
Here is an overview of the diets their sodas fit into:
How To Buy Olipop
Olipop can be purchased in a lot of different ways.
They're available on Imperfect Foods, which is where I first heard of them.
Or, if you prefer shopping in person, Olipop is available at Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Sprouts Farmers Market. Feel free to check out their store locator here to find a location close to you.
Olipop Drink Flavors
They currently have 9 flavors to choose from:
- Blackberry Vanilla
- Classic Grape
- Orange Cream
- Vintage Cola
- Classic Root Beer
- Strawberry Vanilla
- Cherry Vanilla
- Orange Squeeze
- Ginger Lemon
They also rotate in limited edition flavors, such as the Blackberry Vanilla listed above.
Taste Testing Our Olipop Sodas
We've talked about the backstory, the ingredients, and how to get your hands on Olipop... But the real question is: do these sodas actually taste good? Here's our honest take...
- Orange Squeeze: This flavor was light and refreshing. You can taste a mix of citrus flavor with a slight bite of lemon. It reminded me of the orange Fanta flavor.
- Cherry Vanilla: This is what I'm sipping on right now as I'm writing this review. It has a sweet cherry flavor that's just ever so lightly tart. The vanilla isn't overpowering, like it is in other sodas I've had (such as Vanilla Coke). I really enjoy this flavor and I'm not usually a fan of cherry flavored drinks, so that says something.
- Classic Root Beer: This flavor truly feels the closest to its traditional counterpart. I used to drink Stewart's Root Beer when I was a kid and Olipop's version is nearly identical in taste (at least from what I remember). If you watched our video review on YouTube, you can see Emily's face light up when she first tastes it.
- Strawberry Vanilla: This one was my least favorite. The taste seemed almost a bit medicinal, like the flavor of a kids version of cough syrup. It was sweet and I could definitely taste the strawberry and vanilla but something about the flavor just didn't come off right.
- Vintage Cola: I expected this one to taste like Coke or Pepsi but instead it tasted more like RC Cola or the off-brand generic grocery store version of cola. That' not to say it's bad. In fact, it was very tasty and had the slight caramel "bite" that cola's are famous for.
- Ginger Lemon: This was a very light and crisp flavor. I tasted more lemon than ginger when I was sipping on it. The ginger that is there didn't overwhelm me with taste the way it does in other drinks. I found it to be the most calming of the drinks I taste tested and one that I would definitely love to drink after a big meal to aid with digestion.
While I enjoyed most of the flavors, I did notice that they aren't as carbonated or "fizzy" as traditional sodas. There's a slight fizz but it doesn't come close to the "in your face" bubbly taste and texture found in Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, etc.
Delivery & Packaging
We purchased our variety pack of drinks directly from the Olipop website. It came within a week of our initial order and the box was delivered by USPS.
The packaging is very minimal. There was no insulation or padding in our box but the sodas were undamaged.
Within the box there was a handwritten note that said to put the drinks in the fridge and to share our experience on social media.
Interestingly though, the drinks didn't come with any ice packs or anything to keep them cool in transit.
Olipop vs. Diet Sodas
The big question is, can Olipop take on diet sodas? Let's compare them both to see...
Nutrition: Olipop Wins
Right off the bat, Olipop wins this round. While most diet sodas are low in calories and carbs, they don't necessarily have any nutritional benefits. For example, a Pepsi Zero Sugar may have zero sugar and calories but it also doesn't have any fiber. Olipop not only has added fiber but its small sugar content (around 3 to 5 grams) comes mainly from plant-based sources.
This one is a bit more subjective. I personally tend to enjoy the flavor of Olipop's drinks, which use fruit juices and plant-based sweeteners. Diet sodas tend to use aspartame or other artificial sweeteners to mimic the taste of real sugar (minus the calories). However, I've found that diet sodas such as Coke Zero match the fizziness of the real thing much better than Olipop does.
Price: Diet Soda Wins
Traditional diet sodas are almost always going to be cheaper than Olipop. This is, for the most part, because they use lesser quality ingredients.
Olipop vs. Other Similar Brands
What's fascinating is the fact that there are many other very similar brands to Olipop that I had no idea existed before researching and writing this review. They all fall into the "good for you" soda category too.
Here are some other options you may want to consider as well:
- Culture Pop: Like Olipop they use fruit juice and plant-based ingredients to create their flavors. However, unlike Olipop, they do not use stevia and use probiotics rather than prebiotics.
- Poppi: This prebiotic soda has a very similar looking brand to Olipop. What's more is that they have nearly identical flavors too with their version of root beer, cola, and more.
- Health-Ade Pop: Known for their komucha, Health-Ade also has a "gut health" soda line called "Pop" that takes a similar approach as Olipop with plant-based prebiotics and juices to create their sodas.
Pricing will vary depending on where you purchase Olipop. Here's a look at the pricing based on the most popular places to purchase:
- DrinkOlipop.com: All 12-packs are $35.99. Shipping is $3.99 or free if your order is above $50.
- Amazon: When purchasing off of Amazon, you have more variety when it comes to purchase quantity. They have 5-packs for $20.95, 10-packs for $33.95, and 12-packs for $36.29.
- Whole Foods: It's here that you can order single cans of Olipop for $2.39.
Pros & Cons Of Olipop
Now that we've explored how Olipop works, the ingredients, the flavors, and our experience, let's take a look at the good and the not-so-good aspects of their drinks...
- The taste comes very close to matching the real thing. Especially the cola and root beer flavors, which surprised me the most.
- They are more nutritionally friendly than diet sodas. Being packed with prebiotics, plant-based ingredients, and fiber makes them a better alternative (experts agree).
- They offer a good variety of flavors. With 9 flavors currently offered and new limited edition flavors being released, they are likely to have a soda you'll enjoy.
- The sweetness doesn't exactly match that of traditional sodas. It's almost like the sweetness flavor profile is just slightly off when compared to traditional sodas.
- Compared to traditional sodas, it can be more expensive. At over $2 a can, Olipop can be more than double the cost of traditional sodas or their diet counterparts.
- There wasn't much carbonation or bubbles to the sodas. It could have been that they were shaken while in transit or this is just how they come. Regardless, this was the biggest way in which Olipop's sodas differ from other sodas.
If you're ready to purchase Olipop, we're here to help save you some money. Use any of the coupon or promo codes below on their website:
- Coupon code "CARAL" will give you 20% off your purchase.
- Coupon code "GOODLIFEEATS" will give you 15% off your purchase.
- Coupon code "CERTIFIKID" will give you $5 off your purchase.
We include multiple different coupon codes just in case one doesn't work. If you know of any better options, please let us know in the comments below and we'll update this section accordingly.
Final Thoughts: Is Olipop Worth It?
Olipop definitely surprised me. I first wrote them off as another diet soda company trying to sell themselves through "cool" branding. However, after a deep dive into researching their ingredients and taste testing them for myself, I have to say that I'm impressed.
Not only is Olipop the closest soda alternative that I've ever had, the ingredients really are better than what's found in most traditional diet sodas.
The biggest drawback is that the carbonation "fizz" in Olipop doesn't hit you the same way as it does in other sodas.
Will I be ordering from them again? Yes.
Have a question about Olipop? Have you tried their sodas before? Let us know in the comments below!