The Jones Soda Holiday Pack flavors - Turkey & Gravy...Cranberry...Wild Herb Stuffing...Brussels Sprout...Pumpkin Pie - stared at us "invitingly", kinda' like they were Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and their compadres at the OK Corral and we were the Clantons and the McLaurys across the way. I had asked in an earlier thread if anyone had encountered these offerings (which Jones Soda produces to benefit charities annually around this time of the year.) After noting the relative lack of encounters, I figured it was time to give them the Chowhound treatment and see how they stood tastewise.
Thankfully, I didn't do it alone. With Thanksgiving being a family holiday, I recruited five other relatives, brave sucke...er, volunteers to boldly delve into this wondrous world of "exotic" flavors and "seducing" scents.
As the bottles stood at the ready, waiting for our first twitch, we huddled together and devised a plan on how to best attack these imposing figures. We figured it was best to go from perceived worst to perceived best. It's amazing how the best-laid plans go quickly to waste...
Showdown #1 - Brussels Sprout: None of us had ever had a brussels sprout in our life, but judging from the swamp green tint of the bottle, we all agreed quickly this would be the one to get out of the way first.
As soon as I opened the cap, that indescribable "wondrous" aroma permeated the room and immediately killed the gathered flying insects outward to a 20-foot radius. Ignoring the overwhelming danger signs, we each stared down the "mean green" in our cups and downed our (very small) sampling after the count of three.
As facial expressions grimaced and contorted and a chorus of tortured groans echoed through the room, people rushed to the sink. A torrent of liquid was flung in; if nothing else, I believe this "mean green" has cleaned out the pipes to a clog-free state for several years. There is no other way to describe this concoction but V-I-L-E.
Afterward, we fell back on the counters, barely able to keep our balance. This battle could be over quickly, we thought...
Showdown #2 - Cranberry: The Brussels Sprout was so overwhelmingly horrid that we immediately threw out our strategy and picked on what we figured was the weak link in the fivesome. The scent of cranberry immediately soothed our wounded psyches and put us into an almost near-nirvana state, briefly numbing our encounter with "the mean green." What does not kill us makes us stronger, so they say...
We poured it in our cups, quickly counted to three, and pounded this soda. The cranberry had no chance - it was the best of the bunch, though in some sense it was like drinking the least spoiled of five batches of milk. In fairness, this might do decently as a diet cranberry soda (all of these sodas are sweetened by Splenda), but chances are a vast majority of consumers would rather stick with regular cranberry juice or soda.
Showdown #3 - Wild Herb Stuffing: this was a case of smell no evil, taste no evil. It didn't smell much like much of anything after the initial pouring; if nothing else, it had a slight lemon scent to it. The taste pretty much mirrored the scent - vague hints of this-and-that and something-or-anothers that would've went well with a plate of roasted what-nots and creamed whadahellisdat. We all agreed a plain glass of lukewarm tap water would've been preferable but we counted our blessings that we more or less went unscathed by this barrage.
Showdown #4 - Turkey & Gravy: for some reason, the last encounter increased the bravery in all of us. We collectively figured familiarity would carry us through the day on this soda, the staple flavor of this fivesome since its creation.
The President of the U.S. annually pardons a turkey for Thanksgiving; he must've pardoned the turkey for this soda as well, because it was nowhere to be found in the scent. The aroma did have a gravyish tint to it, but only in a cousin-twice-removed sort of way. The taste was similar, as if you swirled a pouch of Knorr Gravy Mix into a bowl with a 2-liter bottle of tonic water. This adversary administered a definite shot to the gut for the group as a whole, and seemed to only accentuate our encounter with the Brussel sprout soda. The "mean green" liquid was reaching our stomachs and wreaking damage on our linings right about that time.
Showdown #5 - Pumpkin Pie: we again were put on the ropes, but the knowledge that we had only one more bottle to sample and that it was a "promising" flavor ramped up our constitutions. We sallied forth together like those folks in the light brigade made famous by Lord Tennyson, almost resigned to our fate.
Pumpkin Pie smelled the best of the bunch - a glimmer of hope sprung at the promise of a decent soda akin to the Cranberry. Alas, Splenda and pumpkin flavor just weren't meant to be together. Water that mixture down with a gallon or two of water, carbonate it, and voilá - the final blow to our tastebuds.
After sweeping up the dead insects and calling out hazmat people in moon suits to dispose of the rest of the Brussels Sprout soda, we surveyed the culinary carnage and licked our wounds. Unlike the Tennyson's brigade, we survived. No, we won't be grounded in immortality like them, but we could relish the fact that a whole host of great-tasting, real-life Thanksgiving counterparts stood nearby, ready to soothe and heal our mouths with that oft-attempted ritual called "seconds".