I refuse to believe that the Dr. Pepper company created "Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper" on purpose.
What really happened is this: a guy in their lab made some stuff, and it kinda tasted like Dr. Pepper, but not really, and once they determined that the lab rats who drank it were just sleeping, they sent their new product off to marketing. And those poor people, they had to sit around drinking can after can of mildly fruity soda-like substance and trying to figure out what it tasted like.
But the soda industry has a history of these desperate cries for attention: Coca-cola with Lime, Coca-cola with Lemon*, Mountain Dew-Pitch Black, Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi Holiday Spice, and if you were in Japan this summer, Pepsi Ice Cucumber, these are the dark, crayon scrawled drawings of companies that really need someone to care about them.
I think it goes back to the cola wars in the 1980's. For this brief period, people took their soda drinking seriously. Well, I guess they did. I remember all those "only old people drink Coke' ads, but I was too young to judge if there was a major societal rift at work. Also a few years of my childhood memory take place on the Lego space monorail I got one Christmas, so maybe something happened then and I don't remember. But Billy Joel's famous rant "We Didn't Start the Fire", where he references things like AIDS, suicide, and crack, ends with the line "Rock and Roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore," and I guess if that's the thing that finally pushed him over the edge, maybe it was a pretty big deal after all.
So when the cola war passed, all these companies were left with deflated egos. They'd constructed this Orwellian pseudo-war to keep people interested, then one day everyone woke up and said "Wait, many industries comfortably operate with two ore more major competitors, and in fact that arrangement is better for the consumer than having one clear winner," and it was all gone. (And in which book did George Orwell use the idea of a pseudo-war to distract the masses? "1984"! Just before the cola wars began! That's some Twilight Zone action right there.)
So now the soda companies shamble on, working in their labs each day to come up with something that will spark the public interest again. I feel sorry for them, but every time my sanity, my loyalties, and my intelligence are called into question because of the operating system, the internet chat client, or the video game console I choose, I know they might have their war back someday.
*Why wasn't there a Coke with Lymon? I mean it's their word, they made it up. Seems like kind of an oversight, doesn't it?