Pepsi's CMO On Their Culinary Institute Of America Collaboration For Limited Edition Pepsi-Roni - Exclusive

If you've ever wondered what it would taste like to put soda inside a sausage, Pepsi has the answer. The beverage giant collaborated with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to create Pepsi-Roni, a Pepsi-infused riff on America's favorite pizza topping.

Why would Pepsi do such a thing? Todd Kaplan, the brand's CMO, sat down for an exclusive interview with Mashed to explain the company's latest creation. Pepsi-Roni is just one facet of the brand's #BetterWithPepsi ad campaign. Per Kaplan, pizza (particularly pepperoni pizza) is better with Pepsi because "the carbonation of the Pepsi helps to break down the grease, while the traditional Italian spices used in the sauce complement the citrusy pop that can only be found within a Pepsi." He added, "When adding the pepperoni to the pizza, it blends more of those Italian spices and brings out all the flavor profiles even more." Since Pepsi and pepperoni go together so well, it was only natural to try out making the soda-flavored topping.

The story of how Pepsi-Roni came to be

Pepsi-Roni started out as an idea within the soda corporation. The brand decided to reach out to the CIA to turn its soda sausage dreams into a reality. As Kaplan told Mashed, Pepsi's own research and development team worked with CIA chefs to create the final product. Settling on the recipe took time, collaboration, and lots of taste tests. According to Kaplan, "We had a tasting a few weeks ago where we tried different levels of heat, spices, and smokiness, different things to see what would be the best. Different sizes, how to brand it, how to cut it — you have no idea the amount of thought that's gone into it."

As for the taste, expect hints of pork, smoke, spice, and (obviously) Pepsi. Specifically, Pepsi Zero Sugar was used to flavor it. Kaplan said, "The Pepsi-Roni is pork-based, combining the citrus zest and caramel notes of Pepsi Zero Sugar with traditional savory pepperoni seasonings. The Pepsi-Roni is then smoked for hours and given an additional layer of the reduced [soda] glaze to further enhance the flavors."

We asked Kaplan if Pepsi was planning any other pizza toppings given the success of Pepsi-Roni, and he didn't entirely rule it out: "Right now, we're going to start with the Pepsi-Roni and see where it goes. We'll have to take it from there. We'll see how the world responds."

You can try Pepsi-Roni pizza at events in Miami and Los Angeles today. Information can be found here.