An Honest Review of Starry Zero, Pepsi’s New Diet Lemon-Lime Soda

When I recently wrote a somewhat positive (but overall pretty ambivalent) review of Starry, Pepsi’s newly released lemon-lime soda, I wasn’t aware how strongly people felt about lemon-lime soda. Last I checked, there were around 80 comments on that review, some of them personal attacks on my character, ability as a writer, and value as a human being. One person called me “uncool” and then actually typed out the words, “This ‘author’ could give an aspirin a headache,” which is, no offense, the dorkiest insult I’ve ever read. But, listen, I get it. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has them and most of them stink, even when they belong to a professional food taste tester.

But some of the more constructive comments gave me more insight into why people are so worked up about this soda release.

For one thing, Sierra Mist, a now discontinued lemon-lime soda from Pepsi, was made with real cane sugar and Starry is made with high-fructose corn syrup. Why Pepsi would replace a sugar-sweetened soda with a corn syrup-sweetened soda when everything on the market is trending natural is beyond me. I also recently had an opportunity to taste Sierra Mist (which we sourced from Amazon) alongside Starry, and I will say that we liked Sierra Mist better, although I still didn’t emerge from the experience thinking Starry was explicitly bad. It’s sweeter (too sweet for some) and slightly more caloric (150 cals and 39 grams of carbs per 12 ounce can to Sierra Mist’s 140 cals and 37 grams of carbs per can). I still think the branding is cuter than Sierra Mist’s was, but I’ve learned my lesson about making jokes about cannibalism (check the original Starry review to understand that reference).

But that’s all in the past now. Today I’m here to talk about Starry Zero, Pepsi’s new zero-calorie lemon-lime soda. Same bold branding as full-fat Starry, but sweetened with aspartame—same as Sierra Mist Zero Sugar. (I didn’t taste this alongside Sierra Mist Zero Sugar but I did taste it alongside Sprite Zero.)

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starry zero review

New Product!

Starry Zero

In my opinion, “Zero” sodas are better than “Diet” sodas. I know some people will go to hell and back for Diet Coke, but I think Coke Zero is a far superior product because it tastes more like Coca-Cola than Diet Coke does (although, obviously, Coca-Cola is more delicious than either). That’s why Starry Zero is such a letdown: It doesn’t taste like zero-sugar Starry; it tastes like a different soda altogether. For a lemon-lime soda, I find Starry to be very lime forward; you get lime on the nose and lime dominates the flavor profile. Starry Zero tastes more like lemon. It also has that unpleasant diet-soda saccharine sweetness that sort of lingers on your tongue after you take a sip.

That said, if you hate Starry (I know there’s PLENTY OF YOU), then maybe you’ll actually like this? Try it and let me know in a way that won’t hurt my feelings.

Credit: Liv Averett / Amazon




starry soda review

We Review Starry

Check out the full review of the original Starry and find out if it’s a worthy replacement of Sierra Mist or not!

About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • Sprite is king of lemon-lime sodas. Pepsi has been chasing that dragon for years and they can’t seem to get it right. Starry is just repackaged Sierra Mist in that it’s too lime forward and pales in comparison to Sprite. Starry? More like…had to drink this…I’m not great at puns, look. Starry stinks!

    • All that’s to say that this is an expertly written review and I value you and the entire Sporked team.

      Have a good day…or don’t! It’s your choice.

    • Honestly 7 UP . Is the king of lemon lime soda it’s been for decades. Way before sprite ever came out. Wich I do like sprite. But to my opinion 7 Up is the the king of lemon lime soda.

  • Sure wish I could FIND Starry Zero. It is not available in Northern Virginia, as of the day I write, I searched this morning.

    • I’ve been buying Starry Zero in single bottles in Safeway and Giant stores in Alexandria and Springfield in NoVA. They also carry 12 and 24 pack cans at either location. 6 pack bottles are the only thing I haven’t seen in these stores.

  • Sprite is best if they would just tweak down the sodium from 65mg to 60mg. It’s like drinking ocean water. Starry I feel is identical to the old sierra with high fructose which is better than real sugar strangely and is lemon dominant not lime and I wish there was an all lime caffeine soda. Mtn dew white out imo was the best and despite being voted by fans they discontinued it to jealously spite me for being the world famous Truman show

  • I actually really like the more lime flavor of Starry Zero, moreso than zero/diet Sierra Mist. I also can’t say I particularly detected any aftertaste different from any other diet.

    Mind you, I have the beetus, so I’m very much used to aspertame/splenda and such. I’ve even recently gotten used to Stevia, which took a bit to get used to.

  • I loved Sierra Mist..I’m not a big fan of high fructose corn syrup…the Pepsi made with real sugar has the taste of my younger years. I just hope the Pepsi made with real sugar is NOT discontinued…if that happens I’ll be drinking coke made in Mexico it’s made with real sugar..

  • I bought and tried Starry Zero. Its a big NO for me. I loved Sierra Mist and will not forgive Pepsi for taking it from me. Back to Coke products for me.

  • Well I will say for anybody who really misses Sierra Mist I recommend should try that Simple 7 Up soda because it tastes very much like Sierra Mist!!

  • Your evaluation sucked. It’s a matter of preference personally any soda without real cane sugar or high fructose syrup sucks. It doesn’t matter to me what you LIKE Harr

  • Hope some day Pepsi will bring back Sierra mist back starry is okay but I like Sierra mist much better.

  • I was impressed with Starry Zero, or no sugar or whatever it’s called. The caloric version is awesome too. And you’re definitely not uncool. As a fellow blogger I’d encourage you to keep up the good work.

  • I think Starry soda is awful!! I was a Diet Sierra Mist fan. I am extremely disappointed in Pepsi and I’ve switched to Diet Sprite.