Starry Soda Review: Even Unhealthier Than Pepsi?

Starry Soda Review: Even Unhealthier Than Pepsi?


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Starry is a lemon-lime flavored soda brand launched by Pepsi in 2023 that’s been heavily advertised and is intended to replace Sierra Mist. The brand advertises that their drink is “caffeine free” and that it “hits different.”

But what’s actually in Starry Soda? Is it even unhealthier than Pepsi? What retailer sells it for the best price? And how do real users rate and describe its taste and effects?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Starry Soda based on medical studies to give our take on whether the drink is bad for you. 

We’ll compare the ingredients in Starry Soda to Pepsi, provide a cost breakdown featuring which retailer sells Starry Soda for the best price, and highlight real, unsponsored Starry Soda user reviews including taste tests.

Ingredient Analysis

Starry soda ingredients

The ingredients in Starry Soda are shown above.

There are no ingredients we consider to be healthy, as this product provides basically no nutritional value. There are several ingredients we consider questionable from a health perspective.

High fructose corn syrup is used as a sweetener, and this highly processed ingredient was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition to increase the risk for obesity and other negative health outcomes even more than standard caloric sweeteners like table sugar.

A 20 ounce (oz) Starry Soda contains 65 grams (g) of added sugar, which is over 100% of the Daily Value (DV) in one single serving.

As we documented in our review of Poppi Soda, consuming added sugar in excess is associated with increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer that’s typically derived from a fungus when used in food manufacturing, according to a medical review published in the Toxicology Reports journal.

The same review documented how citric acid caused whole-body inflammatory reactions in some individuals.

Natural flavor is a better option than artificial flavor, but a 2013 medical review documented toxicity concerns with some natural flavoring chemicals and their metabolites.

Potassium benzoate is another preservative which was clinically shown to be clastogenic (DNA-damaging), mutagenic (potential for genetic mutation) and cytotoxic (toxic to living cells).

Clearly Starry Soda contains a number of unhealthy additives, but how bad could one can of soda per day be? A fascinating YouTube video in the next section will explain.

We Tried Starry Soda – Our Take

Starry Soda UGC

As the author of this article, I wanted to try Starry Soda myself to share my thoughts on its taste and the overall product experience.

I had a Starry Soda can along with a bowl of quinoa crackers that I purchased at Walmart.

Starry Soda tastes exactly like what I remember Sprite to taste like. I don't notice any difference at all.

The soda has a lemon-lime flavor and is extremely sweet, too much so for me, but not more than other sodas.

I found myself consistently burping after this meal, and I don't typically burp after eating, which suggests that the high sugar dose and other unhealthy ingredients weren't agreeing with me.

I would not purchase this product again as it tastes too artificial and sweet for me.

I would rate Starry Soda a 3/10 overall.

How Much Does One Daily Soda Harm the Body?

A YouTube video from “Dr. Livingood” cites a large number of research on the surprising health effects of only one daily soda:

Starry Soda vs. Pepsi

Pepsi ingredients

The ingredients in Pepsi are shown above.

Starry has slightly less added sugar (65 g vs. 69 g) and calories (240 vs. 250).

Both drinks contain high fructose corn syrup, natural flavor and citric acid, all of which we consider to be unhealthy as outlined in the ingredient analysis section.

The main difference is that Pepsi is free of the second preservative potassium benzoate, but contains phosphoric acid, which was clinically shown to be associated with significantly lower blood calcium levels, as we documented in our article on the harmful ingredients in Diet Coke (another soda that contains this ingredient).

Overall, we consider Starry Soda to be slightly healthier than Pepsi due to its reduced sugar and calorie levels, but we consider both drinks to be unhealthy.

How do real users rate the taste and effects of Starry? We’ll review in the next section.

Real, Unsponsored Starry Soda User Reviews

A YouTube creator named “SomethingNew” compared the taste of Starry to Sprite:

A TikTok creator and food reviewer called “munchwithdes” rates Starry on a “like it/love it/hate it” scale:

@munchwithdes Let’s try Starry, a new lemon-lime soda from Pepsi! Adios, Sierra Mist! #starry #foodie #tastetest #drinkreview ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Where to Buy Starry Soda for the Best Price

Starry Soda is sold at a variety of retailers, both online and in-person.

Due to shipping costs, in-person is likely to have better prices for single orders but online may have better cost savings for bulk orders (where shipping is often free).

Here’s a price breakdown at the time of publishing this article for a 10-pack of 7.5 oz Starry cans:

Walmart: $12.98 (plus shipping, link)

Target: $6.59 (plus $9.99 shipping, link)

Amazon: $5.78 (free shipping depending on plan – link to official Amazon listing)

When considering shipping charges, Starry is currently 78% cheaper on Amazon’s site than on Walmart’s site.

Our Healthy Soda Pick

Olipop is our healthy soda pick.  

This natural soda uses no flavoring additives or refined sugar, and is instead flavored with nutritionally-rich botanical ingredients like mandarin juice (which is clinically shown to be a potent antioxidant), nopal cactus and calendula flower.

The cans have only 2 to 5 g of added sugar from natural sources like cassava root syrup and apple juice.

Interested consumers can check out Olipop Orange Squeeze flavor (our top pick) at this link to the product's Amazon listing.

Pros and Cons of Starry Soda

Here are the pros and cons of Starry Soda in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • May be slightly healthier than Pepsi
  • Widely available 
  • Most online reviewers claimed the taste was good or great
  • Free of artificial flavors

Cons:

  • Contains high fructose corn syrup
  • More added sugar than recommended in an entire day
  • Contains preservatives
  • Contains flavoring chemicals
  • Soda may be generally unhealthy
  • Can’t purchase directly on brand’s website
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Starry soda is slightly healthier than Pepsi based on our ingredient analysis, but we consider the drink to be unhealthy overall.

It contains a large amount of added sugar, preservatives and other questionable inactive ingredients like citric acid.

Starry has essentially no nutritional value other than the “empty” calories it provides.

Some clinical studies suggest that drinking one can of soda daily can have surprisingly negative health effects, and we’d recommend that consumers with a penchant for soda try fruit-based sodas instead, which are typically higher in nutrients and lower in sugar.

Most of the reviews of Starry soda that we came across online which included taste tests were favorable.

For consumers intent on purchasing Starry, Amazon currently has the best prices for online orders although it’s likely cheaper to buy single cans in stores.