While it may not have been the first lemon-lime soda to arrive in store, Sprite is America’s number one pick when it comes to citrusy soda flavor. However, 7Up (which is older than Sprite) is a close second and a respectable option for pop enthusiasts in its own right. And then there’s Sierra Mist. For a lot of people, it is the clear “also ran” in its category. However, for a small, loyal cadre of fans, Sierra Mist was simply the best. It had a pretty fun run of sketch-based advertisements in the 2000s that helped put it on the map. For much of its lifetime, it was made without high fructose corn syrup, giving it a “healthier” reputation than its competitors. And there were also seasonal varieties such as Cranberry Splash that had a particularly vociferous fanbase. Sierra Mist may not have been the most popular but it definitely had its charms.
You may note that I’m referring to this soda in the past tense. Let’s de-mist-ify this beverage.
What happened to Sierra Mist?
I’m going to break the hard news first: Sierra Mist as we know it is gone. Why did they discontinue Sierra Mist? The answer is that ultimately PepsiCo never knew quite what to do with this brand. For one thing, they kept tinkering with the formula. Originally, it was sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and sucrose, then just high fructose corn syrup, then just sucrose, then stevia, then high fructose corn syrup again.
Did Sierra Mist change its name?
Yes. Sierra Mist briefly rebranded as Mist Twist in 2015 and then switched back in 2018, adding more confusion to the brand.
But wait, what about Starry? Is Starry Sierra Mist?
All this points to a beverage without a lot of corporate confidence behind it, and that was born out in January 2023 when Sierra Mist officially left shelves. In its place is a new lemon lime beverage called Starry.
According to Delish, the difference between Starry and Sierra Mist is subtle but definitive, stemming largely from the different sweeteners used in each beverage. “Sierra Mist, for one, is almost cloyingly sweet. The cane sugar adds a complex and intense sweetness that pushes the lemon-lime notes to the wayside. Starry’s high fructose corn syrup is a cleaner, more neutral source of sugar that makes the citrus pop. The flavor is more crisp and refreshing.”
Sporked managing editor loved Starry when she tasted it. In her review of Starry, she noted that Starry tasted fresher than Sierra Mist, with a more pronounced lemony flavor, lots of big bubbles, and just the right amount of sweetness.
Is Sierra Mist discontinued or still available in some remote grocery shelf at world’s end?
Sierra Mist has gone to that great grocery aisle in the sky…at least for now. Given its history, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the beverage returned in some form, at least for a limited run, to vacuum up those nostalgia dollars. But if you can’t wait for that, you can always scour eBay and pay a premium for a bottle or two of the original formula (here’s a can for over $7,000!). Otherwise, you’ll just have to suck it up and suck up Starry.