Pepsi's CMO Says That Pepsi Is Scientifically Proven To Go Better With Pizza - Exclusive

What beverage best complements pizza? You might think it's a matter of personal taste, but according to Pepsi CMO Todd Kaplan, there's a scientifically-proven answer: Pepsi. Of course, the Neapolitans who History says first cooked pizza a couple of hundred years ago didn't have access to this sparkling brown elixir, as Pepsi debuted in 1893. But now that we have both pizza and Pepsi readily available, Kaplan recommends washing down your pie with his company's soft drink, especially if you like pepperoni: "When adding the pepperoni to the pizza, it blends more of those Italian spices and brings out all the flavor profiles even more."

Mashed sat down for an exclusive interview with Kaplan to discuss the #BetterWithPepsi campaign, which is the brand's effort to convince consumers that certain foods are just, well, better with Pepsi. The #BetterWithPepsi campaign started with ads that centered around burgers, but now the focus is on pizza. Pepsi is an underdog in the burger world, as most fast-food burger chains sell Coke products, but it's actually already the leader in the national pizza space. Per Kaplan, "The perfect pairing [of pizza and Pepsi] is served at over 70% of national pizza locations across the country." 

So why does Pepsi dominate in pizza parlors? Kaplan broke down why this soft drink makes pizza taste even better.

The science behind the pizza-Pepsi pairing

According to Todd Kaplan, one of the main reasons Pepsi works so well with pizza is that it "provides a bite of acidity that's the perfect complement to the tomato sauce and cheese." Another reason the combo succeeds is carbonation. It's no secret that pizza is heavy and fatty, and Kaplan says, "The carbonation of the Pepsi helps to break down the grease."

Even more than acidity or carbonation, Pepsi's most important attribute might be its citrus flavor. You might not think of Pepsi as being particularly citrusy compared to Sprite or 7UP, but citrus is an important component of its overall taste. Kaplan noted, "The signature flavor and bright citrus blend of Pepsi cuts the fat in foods like hamburgers and pizza, giving them a delicious taste. It's like how adding a touch of citrus in cooking can heighten the flavor." He added, "The traditional Italian spices used in the sauce complement the citrusy pop that can only be found within a Pepsi."

Kaplan's arguments for Pepsi's pizza supremacy are supported by statistics. He shared the results of a Pepsi study that indicated that 9 out of 10 people thought that Pepsi was "the perfect beverage combination for them to have with pizza."