Okay, so I’m a little late on this one, but you’ve still got tomorrow to make this happen! The banner pretty much says it all, but I figured I’d let y’all know what flavors you can choose from:
Peppermint Mocha: “Espresso, steamed milk, bitter-sweet chocolate and peppermint flavor mingle beneath a blanket of classic whipped cream and decadent chocolate curls.
Caramel Brulee Latte: “Combination of espresso, steamed milk and rich caramel sauce tropped with whipped cream and shimmery pieces of caramel.”
Gingerbread Latte: “The flavor of freshly baked gingerbread combined with fresh ground espresso and steamed milk…with classic whipped cream and a dash of ground nutmeg.”
These appear to be the only official holiday drinks, but at my local Starbucks they were also offering Eggnog Latte, Peppermint White Hot Chocolate and a few other drinks I can’t remember because I have no memory. All these were covered under the BOGO offer. Hit up your Starbucks tomorrow to take advantage of this deal, because tomorrow’s the last day!
Jones Soda went totally weaksauce with their holiday offerings this year. No Halloween soda, only Tofurky & Gravy for Thanksgiving, and this “Bacon Holiday Pack”. I have no idea what any of the items included in this pack (more of which you’ll be seeing later) have to do with any holiday whatsoever, but I have a sneaking suspicion that thousands of people wrote angry letters about this lack of holiday participation. I imagine they went something like this:
Dear Jones Soda,
I am absolutely outraged to see that you are not offering your usual amount of holiday-related soda flavors this year. Now what soda am I going to drink that will make me gag with its unholy flavor? I have been so delighted to vomit into my sink such wonderful offerings as Candy Corn, Mashed Potatoes & Butter and Green Bean Casserole. The idea that you are not offering me a new carbonated beverage that tastes like meat or vegetables is unacceptable. Have you run out of ideas? Because I have a few:
Potatoes Au Gratin (extra cheese flavor, please!)
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Chicken Tikka Masala
Leftovers of Indeterminate Origin
Feel free to take any and all of these ideas and transform them into wonderful, pure cane sugar-sweetened soda, so that I can gross out my friends and voluntarily traumatize my own palate. If I don’t see some new flavors that make bile rise up into my throat at just the mere mention of the name, I am going to boycott Jones Soda forever, tell all of my friends to do the same, and start an Internet petition.
Disappointed in Denver
I imagine Jones Soda R&D and Marketing Departments were in a tizzy. What were they to do? Frazzled, there was an emergency brainstorming meeting called. Amongst the chaos, someone in the room called out, “What about BACON?! Bacon is so in right now! It’s all over the Internet!” Perhaps another bright up-and-comer chimed in, “Hey, maybe we could team up with J&D’s!” Nobody knew what the fuck this guy was talking about, so he added, “They’re the ones that make Bacon Salt! The nerds love it!”
It was an instant success, of course, and the soda was developed and packaged immediately. In a strange attempt to make it holiday-relevant, they added some completely unrelated bacon-flavored shit to make it a “pack” and put it out there for all the Internet to see. The buzz was immediate, because when you combine bacon and Jones Soda, there’s gonna be press.
Of course, I’m a sucker, so I had to buy it. I paid a completely unreasonable amount of money for some soda. The shipping was actually more than the product itself. But it was all worth it when the UPS man showed up on my doorstep with the box that clearly showed that I was ordering soda off the Internet. At least it didn’t show the flavor on the box.
Wait a second…
WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! I signed up for bacon-flavored soda. I did not sign up for creepy-ass pig-nose girl. And she is on both bottles. Why couldn’t I get overly excited guy in a bacon suit, like on their website? Happy bacon suit guy makes me feel a little better about this soda. Creepy pig-nose girl is like an ominous foreshadowing of horrible things to come.
The front of the label is not the end of things, however. Jones tries to justify itself on the back: “Bacon flavored soda? Okay, pigs may not be able to fly, but that’s not stopping us from bottling a batch of this stuff for you anyway. Drawing inspiration from everyone’s favorite cured meat, we partnered with J&D’s Foods, the makes of Bacon Salt, and produced this refreshingly meaty creation. So, crack open a bottle and ‘ink-dray up-way’…because everything tastes better with bacon.”
Puns make everything better. Here we have a pigs flying reference, and, my favorite, the use of pig latin, which actually took me a second to get the joke. Kudos to Jones for correctly utilizing the rule for words in pig latin that begin with a vowel. I had to think back to third grade to confirm that was the correct way to do it.
I may have been a sucker for buying this soda, but I’m not enough of a sucker to think that Jones didn’t say “refreshingly meaty” without tongue firmly planted in cheek. They know there’s nothing refreshing about this soda. They know it’s gross and wrong. And, sadly, even though they just stated that “everything tastes better with bacon”, their own product is probably about to prove that statement wrong for the first time. Jesus wept.
The color of the soda is ominous. It looks dark brown in the bottle, like a piece of bacon that’s just a little bit burnt, which I enjoy. In bacon, not in soda. On the other hand, it also looks like maple syrup. Oh god, what if they went with maple-flavored bacon instead of just straight-up bacon? Things just got worse. I need to just do this before I prematurely vomit just from psyching myself out.
First of all, upon opening the bottle, foam exploded out of the top of the bottle, despite zero jostling on my part.
Bacon soda went everywhere, and apparently instantly stains everything. That is my countertop after having spilled soda on it for five seconds before being wiped up.
That is my special review towel, which already had some stains on it, but now appears to be ruined forever. (Update – washed the towel immediately with OxyClean Stain Gel and all the soda came out. Yay!)
This is the soda in my kitchen sink, about three minutes after the bacon soda explosion. The foam refuses to go down. Also, what appeared to be dark brown soda is pink. What.
None of this means anything, however, because bacon soda is the worst thing in the world and I will now attempt to use mere mortal words to describe it.
First of all, I smelled it. It smells awful. It smells, literally, like poop. Shit. Feces. Excrement. An obese man’s bathroom after a night at Pancho’s all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet.
I stood with the bottle in my hand, leaning against the sink, for a good two minutes. I didn’t want to drink it, but I knew I had to. I finally took a swig out of the bottle. I couldn’t tell if it was remarkably tasteless and the feces smell was just drifting into my sinuses, or what, but I really was smelling more than I was tasting, and the smell continued to be awful.
I poured it in a glass and took a drink from that, wondering if perhaps the flavor would blossom in there, which I really didn’t want it to do, but had to know. I took my second drink.
I would say the taste is indescribable, but that is not true. It is very describable.
Anyone who has ever watched Mythbusters has probably seen the episode in which they place pig carcasses in a car, seal it airtight, and leave it for two months. When the car was opened, Adam Savage described the smell (I’m paraphrasing off of memory here) as one of the worst odors he’s ever experienced. I believe he also stated that the smell clung to him, refusing to leave. This is a man who has probably experienced more bad smells than 99% of the world’s population (along with Mike Rowe), so I take his claims seriously.
I have never been anywhere near a rotting, decomposed, maggot-filled pig carcass, but I can imagine exactly what it smells like. And that is exactly like what Jones Bacon Flavored Soda tastes like. After my second swallow, I reeled around the kitchen, holding my forearm to my nose and mouth like a rookie cop who just entered his first overripe crime scene. I’m sure it looked over-dramatic, but the reaction was completely real. Rotting pig corpse filled my mouth and my nostrils, clinging to me, refusing to dissipate.
Surprisingly, I didn’t throw up or even gag. I have to believe that the smell and taste was so bad that it overwhelmed my senses too much to even think about gagging. I dumped the glass down the sink and ran the hot water. I sealed the remaining soda in the bottle as tightly as I could and threw it in the trash. The smell lingered in my kitchen.
I had to go to the store shortly afterward. I felt like the stink covered me like a cloud. For the first time in my life, I bought a bottle of Listerine. When I brought it home, I didn’t take my shoes off or even walk all the way to the bathroom; I busted it out of the bag and swished my heart out at the kitchen sink. I have to say, Listerine is very refreshing! It also made me feel free of the dead pig cloud. 5 burgers to you, Listerine.
I don’t really feel like this review needs a wrap-up paragraph, but it’s a tradition, so. Jones Bacon Flavored Soda tastes absolutely nothing like bacon. Its only connection to that delicious food is “pig”. Instead of tasting like bacon, this soda tastes like they took the decomposing remains of a pig and combined it with carbonated water. The pure cane sugar wasn’t even necessary, as the sickly sweet smell of rotting meat was already taken care of. I wrote that little fake letter to Jones before I tasted the soda; I guess now I can cross “rotting flesh” off the list. Congratulations, Banquet, you no longer hold the gold medal for worst “edible” thing I’ve ever ingested. Jones Bacon Flavored Soda is the worst ever.
I’d love to lie to you and say that I picked up Kool-Aid Fun Fizz Drink Drops Partyin’ Punch strictly for review purposes, but honestly, the exact opposite is true. As you might be able to tell from the picture, the pouch has already been opened. Sometimes JFB contributor Bob picked these up on a whim. The truth is, we are both people inching perilously close to the age of 30, and we still make Kool-Aid. No, there are no children in this household. Just two semi-responsible adults who make Kool-Aid.
I should have seen the potential for a review right off the bat, but it wasn’t until Bob tried these Drink Drops that I realized they would be perfect for a review. It’s a fucking Alka-Seltzer that makes Kool-Aid! What’s not to love? Or mock?
The tablets come individually wrapped in their own little packets, which I wasn’t expecting, but makes sense for those who want their Kool-Aid on-the-go. As you can see, on the back of the packet, the tablet has a little smiley face on it, much resembling the Kool-Aid Man’s perpetual grin. Wouldn’t it be great if that was what the tablets actually looked like?
OH MY GOD I GET TO DROWN THE KOOL-AID MAN! …Which is kind of weird, since he’s already filled with nothing but liquid, but…whatever. Give me my right to pretend I’m drowning a beloved mascot and I’m down.
When he made his cup of Fun Fizz, Bob just dropped one of the tablets into a random amount of water. He then complained that it was too…well, watery. I advised him that maybe he should follow the directions on the back of the pouch, which read, “Put 1 drink drop into 8 fl oz glass of water and watch it fizz. OR Put 2 drink drops into 16 fl oz bottle of water.” However, don’t ever, ever drop 2 drink drops into a 16 oz glass of water, or else you threaten to open a wormhole that leads to a bizarro world, where chicken replaces bread on all sandwiches.
This time I made sure I had exactly eight ounces of water, as the back of the package demands. I dropped in our little Kool-Aid Man tablet and watched the excitement unfold!
I wasn’t timing it, but it took about three or four minutes for the Drink Drop to dissolve completely. It was kind of fun watching all the bubbles come up as it dissolved. My favorite part was when the tab went from sitting at the bottom of the glass to slowly floating up to the surface, where it turned into a frothy blob before dissolving completely. I likened it to watching a dead body writhe free of the chains that had been holding it to the bottom of a lake, slowly and ominously drifting up to the surface, ready to traumatize a group of carefree prepubescents for life when they discover it. Except this time, the body dissolves completely in under five minutes. The perfect crime.
The taste of it was distinctly fruit punch, but it had an interesting fizzy texture that went with it, unlike regular Kool-Aid. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it carbonated; it was more like a brief pop on the tongue before I swallowed the liquid. Almost like when you have a mouthful of Pop Rocks and you get that one last, faint pop out of one of the little guys before they completely dissolve. I am probably the only person under the age of 16 who actually remembers that feeling, because I’m the only person nearing the age of 30 who has had Pop Rocks within in the last decade. I’m also drinking fizzy Kool-Aid. What do you want.
While the drink does have a nice, distinct tropical punch flavor, the sweetness of it is absolutely cloying. The nice thing about making your own Kool-Aid is that you can add as much sugar as you want to it. I tend to lean towards the less sugary side, to the point where the Kool-Aid is almost tart. Looking at the ingredient list is like looking at the chemicals needed to produce…I don’t know, something really sciency, and aspartame is included in that list, which explains the mouth-coating, long-lasting, not very pleasant oversweetness.
Kool-Aid Fun Fizz Drink Drops is an interesting concept that’s fun to watch and I’m sure will make kids clap their hands together like a bus full of autistic children heading off to “special” summer camp. And I’m sure that was the point, so Kool-Aid has succeeded nicely on that front. Kids might also like the overwhelming sweetness, but I’m not sure how they’ll feel about the aspartame aftertaste. Then again, children are forgiving, so watching the Kool-Aid man slowly dissolve to his doom might make them forget about all that. I suppose the portability makes it useful, but Kool-Aid already makes a product called Singles that fills that niche well enough. For me, I’ll just stick to making Kool-Aid the old-fashioned way, like a normal, responsible adult.
Score: 2.5 out of 5 bloated corpses and traumatized children
Size: 1 bag of 8 Drink Drops (0.53 oz.)
Purchased at: Safeway #1717
Nutritional Quirks: Citric acid, sorbitol, potassium and sodium bicarbonate, aspartame. Contains less than 2% of natural and artificial flavor, ascorbic acid, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, potassium and sodium carbonate, magnesium oxide, soy lecithin, red 40, blue 1, sodium benzoate and BHA. Oh, sorry, that’s actually just the entire ingredient list.
Mountain Dew Throwback first came out with much to-do in April 2009. As you may have already been beaten over the head with, its big draw was that it was made with real sugar, instead of the high-fructose corn syrup that has taken over the lives of every American, caused an epidemic of obesity, and will probably kill each and every one of you reading this article, if the Internet and my television are to be believed. Way to go, fatties.
But wait! Salvation has arrived from PepsiCo, in the form of Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback! Even though they’ve been feeding you that deadly HFCS for I don’t know how long, they’ve decided to throw you a rope, and now you can enjoy your sweet, sweet soda without fear. Because sugar is natural, so therefore, giant amounts of it are good for you! Unlike HFCS. Stupid, deadly corn syrup.
But wait! PepsiCo apparently only wanted you to have a taste of the sweet life, because both Throwbacks went away in June of 2009, leaving you to drive your Jazzy right on back to the original Mtn Dew and its poisonous sweetener. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
But wait! Before you even had a chance to keel over from Type II Diabetes, at least, I’m assuming, Throwback is back! For eight weeks starting December 28, 2009 and ending February 22, 2010, you can satisfy your massive sweet tooth with real sugar and not syrupy suicide. If they keep this up, all you’ll have to do is buy a few dozen pallets of Throwback from Costco and you can ride out the drought until they re-release it again.
I didn’t have a website to vomit my opinions of food onto the Internet and generally insult many of my readers when the first Throwbacks came out, and I don’t generally drink soda, so I never got a chance to try them. However, BevReview and The Impulsive Buy did, so you can read their expert opinions on the original Throwbacks.
I chose to review Mountain Dew Throwback and not Pepsi, or both, because a.) I am a cheap bastard, b.) I never really liked the taste of Pepsi in the first place and find Mountain Dew to be less offensive, and c.) because it contains caffeine, and probably for some other stupid reasons I don’t know or care about, Mountain Dew has become associated with geeks and gamers, so I get to work in some jokes about mom’s basement and Cheeto dust and World of Warcraft. There. All worked in, now.
The original Throwbacks went retro in their packaging to help emphasize their regression back to using sugar, as seen in this ad:
The new Throwbacks have all new can designs, and while Pepsi went back to the late 80s style that I’ll always associate with the beverage, since my mom drank about a six pack a day during my formative years, Mountain Dew went waaaay further back, drawing from the original can design from the 1950s.
Ya-hooo! Indeed! That there is Gran’ Pappy, the official mascot of Mountain Dew from way back in the day, smiling as he narrowly averts death by cork from a moonshine bottle. On the original logo, Gran’ Pappy had a gun, pointing at a fleeing figure who was presumably trying to steal his booze. I mean, soda. For those not in the know, “mountain dew” is, or was, slang for moonshine, so ol’ Gran’ Pappy there makes a great mascot for the soda. Of course, as time moved on, I’m sure the marketing team realized that associating soda with illegal hooch, guns and hillbillies wasn’t the best strategy, so Gran’ Pappy faded into the past, and the logo evolved, eventually becoming “edgy” and XTREME to appeal to young, fat video gamers. They even officially changed the name to MTN DEW in 2008, because kids these days don’t have the attention span for extra letters. And, of course, it’s easier to text message. You can see a nice picture timeline of the transformation here.
After spending several hours researching this bullshit for your benefit, let’s get to the fucking drink already.
Obviously, the packaging between HFCS Mtn Dew and Mountain Dew Throwback is different, but how do the flavors stack up?
First of all, I’d like to mention that I almost couldn’t get the cap off the Throwback, which would have resulted in much anguish on my part. The cap on Throwback is shorter, smoother, and has less ridges than the Mtn Dew cap. Subsequently, my frail, Victorian era-esque hands did not have the strength and lacked the purchase to open the bottle easily. Fortunately, I drew upon the strength within myself, my desire to get this fucking review over with, and was able to crack the cap.
There’s no real appreciable difference in appearance. They both have the citrus-y smell typical of Mtn Dew, but the original HFCS has a sweeter smell to it. Throwback tastes cleaner and feels more watery in your mouth, compared to the thicker, more syrupy feel of Mtn Dew. However, Throwback tastes almost identical to Mtn Dew. This could be because it contains orange juice concentrate, just like the HFCS version does. Apparently, this is something that was lacking in the Throwback of early ’09, which probably resulted in a difference in taste that may have put some people off. But I suppose I’ll never know, since I didn’t try it.
Something interesting I noticed while I was taking my pictures is that the Throwback seemed to lose its bubbles almost immediately, while Mtn Dew had big bubbles of carbonation clinging to the sides of the glass, occasionally breaking free and rising to the surface. Even as the two glasses sit on my desk while I write this, the Mtn Dew continues to show bubbles, while the Throwback looks as flat as if it had been sitting there for three days. Interestingly, however, Throwback doesn’t taste flat, but it does seem to be more subtly carbonated than Mtn Dew. While this doesn’t effect the taste, it does differ the texture, making it go down a little different than your typical soda, which can cause a carbonation explosion in your mouth if you’re not careful.
I think the addition of orange juice concentrate into the re-release of Mountain Dew Throwback was a smart move, because it results in a soda that tastes very similar to the original Mtn Dew. However, it does have a cleaner taste that goes down more smoothly and feels less like it’s coating your mouth with sugary syrup. The sweetness levels are almost identical; I feel like Mtn Dew is one of the less cloyingly sweet sodas, and the substitution of sugar for HFCS in the Throwback version doesn’t make it taste any more or less sugary. In the end, it’s a matter of preference in texture – original Mtn Dew feels a little thicker and more carbonated, while Mountain Dew Throwback goes down cleaner, but in a way that some Mtn Dew enthusiasts may say makes it taste watery. If forced to choose between the two, I’d go with Throwback, but just by a hair. I prefer the cleaner feel in my mouth, but in the end, the authentic Mtn Dew taste is the same in both of them. And, of course, it’s made with real sugar, whereas everybody knows high-fructose corn syrup causes bunions and what’s known as “Stomach Liver Hybridization”, among many other unspeakable things.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 pours onto the ground for Gran’ Pappy
Price: $1.49, $0.99 on sale
Size: 20 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Albertsons #980
Nutritional Quirks: HOLY SHIT IT’S REAL SUGAR
BevReview has also written a review of the new Mountain Dew Throwback.
Jones Soda loves making wacky holiday-themed sodas. Their most famous offering is probably the Thanksgiving pack, wherein they attempt to make you hate the holiday forever and throw up on your mother’s special-occasion tablecloth by turning Thanksgiving classics into soda flavors. I encourage you to read X-Entertainment’s review of the very first Thanksgiving pack, way back in 2004.
Spurned on by their popularity and America’s masochistic palate, Jones started to release other limited edition sodas, and Halloween inevitably had to get its due. Here are this year’s victims:
I chose Buried Pomegranate, since I already experienced the other three flavors (Candy Corn, Lemon Drop Dead and Spooookiwi) in various iterations in past years, and as an added bonus, Buried Pomegranate gives me an excuse to rant about the popularity of pomegranates. Everything is pomegranate now, and everything pomegranate is usually overpriced. I don’t want a pomegranate martini. I don’t need pomegranate in my iced tea. To be honest, I resisted trying anything pomegranate-flavored for years, choosing to believe that it tasted like hobo breath and that anyone who liked it was just trying to be hip and bourgeoisie. About a year ago, I gave in and bought a tiny four-dollar bottle of POM juice. Turns out, pomegranate juice is pretty delicious. Fuck.
My outrage at the pomegranate’s social status aside, let’s check out this soda. The cans come in packs of four, and they are adorably pint-sized, which has me clapping my hands like an autistic child already. Unlike the rest of you fatties, I haven’t built up the tolerance to sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup that allows you to suck down a 64-ounce Big Gulp in one sitting, so these mini cans are just right. Besides, let’s be fair, here – when you’re dealing with hi-larious gag (in several senses of the word) sodas, do you really want to have to tackle a full-sized can of the stuff?
Right off the bat, I was a little confused by the theme of Buried Pomegranate. Okay, so there’s a vampire on the can, looking sufficiently evil and Halloweeny, minus those purple-colored freckles that he should probably get checked out by a dermatologist specializing in undead skin conditions. I’m having a hard time connecting the name with the face, however. I mean, I guess vampires can be buried, but most of the vampires I know keep their coffins above ground. It seems it would be terribly inconvenient to have to re-bury yourself every sunrise and claw your way out once night fell. Just buy a castle with a fucking basement, already.
Our little widow-peaked friend has blood dripping off his fangs, suggesting he had just finished feasting on a comely virgin’s ivory neck before posing for his close-up. Wouldn’t “Bloody Pomegranate” have been a more appropriate moniker? I was down with the choice of pomegranate (after my Proletariat rage subsided) because my singular encounter with pomegranate juice taught me that it is a deep, dark red, thick and sticky. Just like blood! Where were you when I was all goffy in high school, pomegranate juice? Having the Kool-Aid man stare me down while I drank cherry-flavored soft drink mix from a plastic goblet really ruined the mood. Now could be my chance to relive those salad days, and with a REAL LIFE VAMPIRE hanging out with me, too boot!
What the fuck, Jones Soda? That’s not an awesome fake blood drink, that’s the color my bedspread was until I was ten years old. That’s the color my grandma uses to paint the roofs of the decorative birdhouses she makes. That’s the color of Suave Strawberry Shampoo.
That is NOT the color of totally awesome Halloween vampire victim blood. How fucking hard would it have been to add a little extra Red 40? I feel like I’m drinking perfume.
Of course, I think I’m confusing my own awesome idea of Bloody Pomegranate with the actual, less logical Buried Pomegranate. Since I’m still not exactly sure what that means, I can’t really make a correlation between appearance and name. I guess you’ve won this round, Jones Soda. Good for you. Purple freckles.
Adding insult to injury, Buried Pomegranate smells like a Yankee Candle Company candle. Of course, what am I asking for here, a soda that smells like pennies? Pig’s blood on the ingredient list? I’m getting a little carried away, here. I need to turn off the Depeche Mode and calm down. Honestly, it actually smells good. A really strong, sweet berry smell that, okay I’ll admit it, I wouldn’t mind having as a candle scent in my house. The taste is pretty much the same, more like one of those berry mixes with strawberries and blueberries, with a little pomegranate thrown in. The sweetness is a little overpowering, but I think it works with the berry flavor. Real pomegranate juice is actually quite tart, and there’s just a hint of that here, which seems to compliment the carbonation. If you gave this to me in a blind taste test, I’d probably guess that it was a strawberry soda mixed with something that I couldn’t quite place. Then I’d probably tell you that I’m not a professional goddamn taste tester, so get off my back already. I can’t handle all this pressure.
Jones Soda Buried Pomegranate’s can delivers on the Halloween spirit. I feel like I’ve made a new friend in this little evil bloodsucker. I’ve named him Barney. He’s going to sleep in my bed every night from now until Halloween. I’ll even drive him to the dermatologist. I’m such a good friend.
The soda, a little less spooky, but tasty nonetheless. I could have chosen Candy Corn, which is obviously more Halloweeny, but I’ve tried it before and I really don’t feel like I need to try it again. Screw you guys. Besides, The Impulsive Buy has my back.
I know a lot of people don’t like the “odd” fruity-flavored sodas like strawberry or grape, and those people probably wouldn’t like Buried Pomegranate. But if you’ve ever dontcha wanta Fanta, you might like this soda. Just don’t go into it having never tried pomegranates and think you’re getting a true experience. Of all of Jones Soda’s crazy flavors, this is one of the only ones I’ve actually thought could be a real soda flavor and not just a novelty.
Homo sapiens is a compulsively social species. We organize into fiercely loyal tribes, lifelong monogamous mating pairs, and deep-rooted, close friendships that can last a lifetime. One of the most important traits one can possess in order to maximize the benefit of these relationships is the willingness to compromise, to sacrifice for the sake of the friendship.
If my friends are any indication, this trait will be bred out within a handful of generations.
Maybe I’m a sucker, or a doormat. Maybe I’m a closet masochist afraid to put on the nipple clamps attached to the car battery. Regardless of the underlying reason, when a friend of mine plopped down a 20 oz. bottle of Tropicana Strawberry Melon Juice Drink and demand I review it, I agreed. After all, it was free, and free products to review don’t just fall out of the sky. (Shocking Behind-the-Scenes Junk Food Betty reveal: We paid real American currency for Kroger’s Jelly Belly Puddings!)
I should’ve immediately realized that this guy was my friend, which automatically means he’s a treacherous fiend with a consuming drive to do me harm. I suspect that if I hadn’t agreed to review this beverage, he would’ve simply dropped the bottle and hosed me down with the canister of pepper spray he (I have no doubt) was concealing in his other hand.
The Tropicana marketing and graphics departments immediately attempt to reassure you that the Tropicana Stawberry Melon Juice Drink contains both strawberry and melon. This is submitted to the consumer in three ways: the name of the product, the superfluous reiteration of “strawberry melon flavored juice beverage” directly beneath said name, and the imagine of a stylized strawberry on top of a stylized wedge of… something greenish.
This brings up my first concern upon inspecting the packaging more closely. What kind of melon are we talking about, here? The melon had its agricultural start in ancient Persia, leaving millennia for the vagaries of individual cultivation. There are scores of melon varieties, with wildly different flavors, and a trip to the ingredients section summoned alternating attacks of trepidation and regret.
First, there is no strawberry, and no melon. There are only “natural flavors”, the food industry’s equivalent of “eyes only”. The only recognizable item on the list I would consider “food” is… pear juice concentrate? My “strawberry melon flavored juice beverage” is, in fact, composed of water, corn syrup, 5% pear juice, and the contents of an Axis Chemicals warehouse.
A long inhalation of Tropicana “Strawberry Melon” Juice Drink recalls the piercing, acrid odor of industrial cleaning solutions, mixed with precisely 5% pear juice concentrate. I’m not a pear person – nor am I particularly fond of the flavor of 409 – and my gaze drifted wistfully to the bottle of nerve tonic beckoning seductively from the kitchen counter. I’m not ashamed to admit that this review went on hold for awhile, long enough to build up a bulwark against the pain. However, I had concerns that the beverage would eventually dissolve the plastic bottle, and my refrigerator, and my kitchen floor, if left too long, and I was forced once more into the breach.
Pear. It’s pear Kool-Aid, if that Kool-Aid had been spiked with diluted acetone into which strawberry Nerds had been dissolved. My palate searched frantically for a hint of melon, hoping to ease the grimace which had twisted my face into an agonizing rictus, but there is none. Perhaps the melon they’re trying to sell me is hypothetical, like string theory or Tropicana’s culinary integrity. Perhaps Tropicana is staffed by nothing but rogues and liars.
In short, the drink is vile, and this is compounded by the addition of xanthan gum and gum arabic, which only serve to thicken the already sticky properties of high fructose corn syrup, especially at room temperature. This leads me to the belief that Tropicana “Strawberry Melon” Juice Drink is not actually produced for human consumption. In fact, I’m not sure what possessed the responsible parties to green-light mass production after experiencing the drink.
There is one thing I know. Given the chemical composition of the product, its thick and sugary nature, makes it perfect for the manufacture of homemade napalm, with an appropriate accelerant. Having said this, my friend will be well advised to start wearing flame-retardant clothes.
Score: 1 out of 5 hamburgers made out of totally inappropriate pears.
Price: Received free, but I’ve paid the ultimate price.
Size: 20 ounces
Purchased at: A charred ruin that used to be my friend.
Today and next Monday (August 3rd), participating locations of McDonald’s are offering free iced and hot coffees from 7am to 7pm. Apparently, it’s mochas only, and apparently, they are “sample” sized (8 ounces), so caffiene addicts shouldn’t expect to catch a buzz unless they plan on McDonald’s-hopping all over the city. Considering it’s late July, I would suggest getting the iced version, but if you’re a big fan of drinking a diuretic that’s also hot when it’s 100 degrees outside, knock yourself out. I haven’t had their fancy mochas with the whipped cream and the chocolate syrup and the hey lady!, but I’ve had their regular iced coffee and it’s surprisingly good for having come from a restaurant that makes burgers that look like they’ve been run over by a pickup truck. Enjoy!
Bug Juice – is it truly a junk food, you ask? Maybe not per se, but as I examined this little gem in the beverage section of my local convenience store, I just couldn’t resist its charms. On first glance, it seems to be nothing more than a novelty kid’s drink, no more original than those little plastic baby bottles filled with candy that make me vaguely uncomfortable for some reason. Maybe that’s true, but hey – it was 8am, I was hungover, and I bought it. So now we’re going to look at it.
The label is adorable – there’s a polka-dotted bee…thing, a vampire-fanged spider (obviously the villain in the cartoon tie-in – I mean look at those eyebrows), a humble ladybug that may or may not have been poisoned by Fangs Eyebrow, and that obviously drunk guy at the bottom that my Internet research tells me must be some sort of centipede/millipede hybrid. There’s also some sort of scared worm, but he seems to be more of a bit player. What a cast of characters! Who knows what kinds of wacky adventures they’ll get into next? We don’t know a whole lot about their backgrounds, but I did find this:
Let’s ignore the “especially for kids” part and get to the real meat: FROM THE JUNGLES OF THE GREAT NORTH COAST! Which coast? What continent? These guys are getting more interesting all the time!
There’s also a giant American flag, which I didn’t immediately notice in the store, being all absorbed in the potential mishaps of the Bug Brigade. I have several questions about that flag. Most obviously, what is it doing there? It has nothing to do with my interesting insect friends. Why is it so prominent? Do they really think I’m going to care that my Bug Juice is made in the U.S.A., when there’s so much more going on here?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, so let’s move on to the drink itself. As you can see, the liquid is colored neon blue, and is described as “Berry Raspberry”. I would think this to be an unlikely flavor for actual bug juice, but who am I to question? I also find the term “berry raspeberry” to be a bit redundant; I suppose it could be taken to mean “raspberry and also some other random berries you may have heard of”, but since the ingredient list predictably only lists “natural and artificial flavors”, we’ll never know.
But how does it taste? If you’re like me, you’re a sucker for all things that are both blue and ingestible. The fact that most blue foods are also raspberry flavored (way to take up the red market, cherry) is just an added bonus. So, as you might imagine, it tastes like most other blue raspberry things – sweet, but also with a nice kick of sour that leaves your lips all puckery and the back of your throat slightly angry at you. Just harken back to Kool-Aid’s Berry Blue, which I consider to be the grandfather of all blue foods, whether or not that is actually true, and you’ll get the idea of how this Bug Juice tastes. The biggest difference is that Bug Juice really amps up the sour – after drinking half of the kid-sized 10 oz. bottle, I felt like I needed to coat the inside of my mouth with a Lip Smacker.
An inexplicably award-shaped ribbon urges me to meet the bugs at www.drinkbugjuice.com. I wanted to, I really did. I was dying to know more about my new friends. However, going to that URL results in a holding page, informing me that the website is in development and will be online soon. Imagine my crushing disappointment. Bug Juice, you are a tease in every way.
Bug Juice definitely delivers on the packaging, from the cute critters to the petite size to the mysterious patriotism. Honestly, it could have tasted like Windex and I still wouldn’t have had any hard feelings for Fangs Eyebrow. The truth is, this drink is marketed just for kids, and the taste is something only a kid would really want to drink. As an adult, I’m probably not supposed to like blue raspberry as much as I do, but even I can’t get down with drinking a whole bottle of what is essentially the outer coating on a blue Warhead candy. If you’re under the age of twelve, you’ll probably like Bug Juice, and if you’re an adult who eats lemons for fun, you’ll probably like Bug Juice, too. Outside of those demographics, you’ll probably find your face turning inside out after the first swallow.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 hamburgers
Size: 10 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Circle K
Nutritional Quirks: One bottle contains 125% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, which I suppose explains the extreme sourness.
Junk food and fast food reviews. We eat it so you don't have to!