I’ve long lamented that I missed the halcyon days of Jones holiday sodas, which was back in the early 2000s when they sold their absolutely amazing-looking Thanksgiving packs that contained such flavors as Green Bean Casserole.
I’ve since made it a mission to grab every limited edition Jones Soda flavor I can, knowing full well that I’m likely in for some seriouspunishment.
This year’s Halloween grab is Pumpkin Pie Soda, which Jones claims is new but was previously offered in one of their Thanksgiving packs. Perhaps they’ve tweaked the formula?
Along with Pumpkin Pie, this year they’re offering Blood Orange and Lemon Drop Dead, which have been offered in previous years, but I wanted to include them because they’ve departed from the usual picture labels to offer some pretty gruesome mummy and zombie guys.
Their labels also claim that “It will haunt you forever!” I find this very funny, because out of all of Jones’s limited edition flavors, these are two that will not haunt you. Blood Orange basically tastes like a better version of orange Fanta, because Jones uses cane sugar, and Lemon Drop Dead is a surprisingly refreshing mix of sour and sweet lemon soda.
But we’re really here for the Pumpkin Pie Soda. Because who wants to read about something that might actually taste good?
My four-pack of Pumpkin Soda bottles came with two harmless autumn-themed labels, but I chose the one where four people cover their faces with pumpkins, which could be a fun family photo but to me comes off as quietly ominous.
Jones describes this soda as “the perfect mix of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with a hint of creamy, buttery crust flavor”.
Here we are again, with the pumpkin and the spices. But at least this one makes flat-out claims of tasting like pumpkin! On the other hand, they have to follow it up with the words “creamy” and “buttery”. Two things I’m always looking for in a soda.
Like an idiot, I’m always smelling these sodas before I taste them. The aroma wafting out of my cup was both strong and incredibly genuine – it really was like I was smelling pumpkin pie in a glass. I feel like this should have been off-putting, but instead it was inviting.
Tasting it was an entire grab bag of flavors and emotions. The nutmeg jumped to the forefront, which was bizarre when paired with a cold, carbonated beverage. The cinnamon was subtle, and, dare I say, overshadowed by the flavor of pumpkin. Actual pumpkin flavor! …In my soda.
Jones rarely lies, and true to form, there was indeed a hint of creaminess and a little bit of butter on the finish. It did give the impression of pie crust, and even evoked memories of the Cool Whip that was always present on top of pumpkin pies at my family’s Thanksgiving dinners.
What does all of this add up to? Again, my brain and my mouth are so confused. If I was judging Jones Pumpkin Pie Soda on flavor alone, it’s aces. By far the most authentic-tasting pumpkin item I’ve had this season, and probably in years past.
But the fact of the matter is that I’m also drinking a soda. It’s cold, it’s carbonated, and it’s everything that a pumpkin pie isn’t supposed to be. Did I finish the cup? I did, but I’m still not entirely sure why. Will I be cracking the other three in my possession? I’m pretty sure they’ll sit in the pantry until I run out of room and am forced to throw them away.
If you have the opportunity to try it, I urge you to do so, just to experience the weird authenticity. Especially if you live in Canada, where it’s available for a limited time at all Smoke’s Poutinerie locations. Screw you guys for having Poutineries.
Happy Halloween, everybody! I mentioned this before, but I didn’t get to review nearly the amount of stuff I wanted to review this month. And now, here we are, on the holiday itself. So get ready for a MEGA REVIEW.
Well, it’s not really mega, but I’m going to do short reviews of four different Halloween items. OooOOOOooo procrastination.
Snak King Fright Bites Tortilla Chips
I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw these at the store. Like I said in my Cheetos review, savory snacks just don’t get the spooky treatment like candy does, so this item deserves a shout-out. Way to go, Snak King. You are such a leader that you add “King of Snacks” underneath your logo, just in case people weren’t clear on that.
The bag itself is wonderfully spooky, with a strange, flat-topped vampire child, a ghost who appears very surprised or even scared by said vampire’s hair, a freaked-out tree, a happy Jack O’Lantern and a tombstone. Love it.
And look at those goddamn chips. I expected to have a hard time finding properly shaped/intact examples, but a large amount of them were in this pristine condition. Not even a regular bag of Tostitos can accomplish that easily.
Of course, the color doesn’t effect the taste at all, and they’re actually decent as a tortilla chip. I expected the quality of the chip itself to suffer, but they were well-salted and on par with any other name-brand tortilla chip.
The only quibble I have is that they’re a little too lightweight to do any heavy lifting, like a salsa or guacamole. They worked well with cheese dip, with little eye hole leakage.
But who cares about that when you’ve got tortilla chips shaped like ghosts, pumpkins and bats, and all appropriately colored? If you’re not putting Fright Bites out at your Halloween party, you are clinically insane.
Jones Limited Edition Blood Orange Soda
Apparently Jones released this can design and flavor last year also, but I missed it, so here we are. There were four available flavors and cans last year, but this year they only went with two – this and the zombie-themed Caramel Apple, which they were out of when I went to the store. This is probably for the best.
Count Vlah manages to look mildly scary but also comical at the same time, going with a bow tie instead of the traditional wrap around…thing fastened by an amulet. I just realized I have no idea what the hell that thing is called, if it even has a name. Maybe we should call this guy Professor Vlah instead.
When I started pouring the soda into the glass, I almost had a spastic freakout because the soda looked pink. I could already imagine the thousand-word essay I would spew onto this page about how dare Jones make a Blood Orange soda pink and blah blah vlah. Fortunately for both myself and you, the end result was actually the appropriate shade of bright orange.
Jones Limited Edition Blood Orange Soda tastes like if orange Fanta grew up and moved out of its parents’ house. It’s mostly a regular orange soda, but the addition of real sugar that Jones always uses makes it much more clean and…mature, if you could possibly use such an adjective for orange soda. It also seemed a little more tart than other orange sodas.
I know a lot of people aren’t fans of orange soda, and Jones Blood Orange probably isn’t going to change your mind on that. But if you are a fan of the beverage, you’ll enjoy this iteration. Plus, you get to drink out of a vampire’s head.
Hershey’s Candy Corn Bar
This is a new item this Halloween, but just the idea of it didn’t thrill me. Oh boy, more candy corn in stuff that isn’t candy corn, which in itself already sucks!
I was also not thrilled by this packaging. It’s like Hershey’s either didn’t try at all, or tried too hard to look minimal and retro. If the latter is true, no kid is going to appreciate the effort. You’d score 1,000 more points by just throwing a zombie candy corn on the package. Instead, we get…stripes.
I guess the official name of this is Hershey’s Candy Corn Candy Corn Creme with Candy Bits. While that’s redundant, it did actually shatter my misconception that this was going to be white chocolate with candy corn bits. This only increased my trepidation.
I gotta say, however, that the flavor really did surprise me. It took me a second to pin it down, because it wasn’t the generic, plastic candy corn taste I was expecting. It turns out that Hershey’s Candy Corn bar tastes a hell of a lot like cotton candy!
I have to assume this was a happy accident. I mean, I would have been a hell of a lot more stoked to see Hershey’s Cotton Candy, but that’s exactly what Hershey’s Candy Corn is.
It made my mouth confused, then happy, but then kind of sad again, because holy shit is this candy sweet. I ate one snack-sized bar and I felt overloaded with cloying sweetness. Also, while you can see the decorative little orange and yellow bits in the bar, they add nothing to the taste or texture. It would have been fun to have little crunchy bits in there.
So I wasn’t completely disgusted by Hershey’s Candy Corn bar, but that’s only because it tasted nothing like candy corn. If I got this in my trick-or-treat bucket, I’d probably toss it to the side, never to be seen again, and I’d never know that it tasted like cotton candy and ten pounds of sugar. Missed opportunity, Hershey’s.
Seattle Chocolates Dead Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar with Sea Salt and Toffee
After eating Hershey’s, this sure does sound like some fancypants shit, doesn’t it! Truffles and sea salt and toffee, oh my!
I don’t usually go for these fancy chocolate bars, mostly because I’m not a chocolate fanatic, and also because I usually have enough sweets laying around from reviews to satiate any cravings I may have. But this guy was just too good to pass up.
Despite the muted color scheme, the eye is immediately drawn to this chocolate bar’s wrapper. It’s called Dead Sea Salt, and there’s a dancing skeleton on it! There’s also a cat, and like, fifteen different spooky fonts with random Halloweeny words like “bloodcurdling” and “fangs”. It almost looks like a geocities website, but somehow, the clutter totally works.
…Suffice to say that all the effort went into the packaging.
No matter though, because that’s what made me buy the bar, so I guess it’s working! As for the taste itself, Seattle Chocolates brings the quality. The chocolate is rich, smooth and creamy, and there are crunchy toffee bits throughout that add great flavor and texture. The hint of salt is there just to add some flavor depth and a nice aftertaste.
That last sentence was me completely talking out of my ass. I don’t understand anything about fancy chocolates. I don’t even know where the “truffle” part came in. I just know that chocolate good, toffee good. Good bar. Good wrapper. Fangs.
Phew! While I wish I’d been able to spread this out over the month, I gotta say, marathoning it all out on Halloween day certainly got me in the spirit! Have a happy Halloween, boils and ghouls!
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.