Weird Sodas!

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Quick! Can you think of any activity that is more American than chugging gallon after gallon of mouth-watering corn syrup?

If you subtract all the activities that require either guns or Wal-Mart, I’m pretty sure that you’d be drawing a blank! America is synonymous with the two big-name brands of bubbly sugar water/battery acid that have both built everything within this great land and been branded on every possible surface in this great country.

I also love pounding the liquid sugar just as much as the rest of you True Americans, but it would appear that the wheels have finally started falling off my metabolism thanks to my garbage eating habits after all these years. I know that sooner than later, I will eventually have to take the initiative and start cutting back on my sugar intake before I turn into a giant manberry riding around on a motorcycle. But before I go and make any rash life-altering changes, I think it’s time for me to stop, drop, and smell the roses. Before I completely cut off the sugar train, I need to expand my horizons and live a little!

Instead of just trying to suck down as much Code Red or DEW.S.A. with an oil funnel as I humanly can before my inevitable diet begins, I want to experience at least a few different kinds of sodas so that I can longingly reminisce about something other than the Olympic swimming pool filled with the citrus-y goodness of Mountain Dew that I have consumed over the course of several decades. The rumors you’ve heard about me are true, if you manage cut me with a knife during a street fight, I really will bleed brominated vegetable oil.

These new drinks I’m going to try come with some rules, tho. I am limiting myself to drinks that can be purchased under normal circumstances in the current day and age. Crazy ancient shit like Josta or OK Soda are completely off the table (and there’s no way I would ever drink 20 year old cans of shit anyways). Please note that every beverage on this list is 100% non-alcoholic, so no matter how many of these you drinks you sample, you won’t have to worry about over-indulging to the point that you start playing old Genesis games while jamming out to your secret special butt-rock playlist on Amazon Prime.

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…although the 80’s had some seriously hot soccer moms.

Are you ready for me to test drive a few weird sodas, so you don’t have to? I’m no medical expert, but I’m pretty sure that cutting down on liquid sugar is one of the few things you can proactively do to keep yourself from coming down with an illness that will inevitably bankrupt you right before killing you. USA!!! USA!!!

8. Fentiman’s Dandelion and Burdock

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This crap looks like bottle of cure-all you would buy from the deranged mustachioed asshole in Pete’s Dragon.

Where Can I Get This?

World Market, on the opposite side of the Clearly Canadian rack. ($1.97)

What The Hell is This?

This is a soda crafted from 3 rather unnatural ingredients. These are dandelion juice, some shit called burdock weed, and ginger extract. From this ingredient list alone, it definitely sounds like this drink is undoubtedly going to be an acquired taste.

Well, is it Any Good??

When you pop open a bottle, it smells almost the same as when you open up a fresh pouch of grape Big League Chew (from the 80’s), and that’s about the only positive thing that I can say about it. As far as taste goes, it tastes like a bottle of fizzy liquified gummi worms, or possibly what the trap under a soda fountain at 7-11 would taste like after a long summer day. This burgundy liquid isn’t very sweet, and mostly just tastes like something close to a combination of kombucha and Windex. I only had a few sips. and I can’t drink any more of this stuff, and my kids definitely won’t drink any of it. Every one of my children can confirm that Fentman’s Dandelion and Burdock indeed tastes like shit.

Other Notes:

This is supposed to taste like a minty British version of Sasparilla, but that Wikipedia description is far too generous. This stuff’s flavor is closer to boot juice than anything resembling root beer. I can’t recommend buying or consuming this one, even if it is solely going to be used as a joke to convince someone think you made prison wine.

SCORE: .2/10

7. Sidral Mundet

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Sorry for the overly shitty Photoshop work here. This ended up looking like apple juice and bottled ghost.

Where Can I Get This?

Any Kroger-based supermarket, usually somewhere near the deli, on the top shelf. ($0.72)

What The Hell is This?

This drink advertises itself as an apple-flavored soda that has been produced in Mexico since 1903. Also, be aware that you will have to have a bottle opener handy in order to open the fucking thing.

What’s it Like?

It’s supposed to be a lightly carbonated apple soda, but I am not tasting anything remotely apple or carbonated. It just tastes like a bottle of pure corn syrup, with a extremely faint apple aftertaste. Mundet doesn’t have any redeeming qualities other than being cheap, and doesn’t hold a candle to amazing apple-based badass sodas of yesteryear like Apple Slice. Not impressed.

apple sclice
Now, this shit… this shit was the bomb when it was paired with some Fig Newtons.

Other Notes:

I’ve almost drank the entire bottle, because while I hate to let 72 cents go to waste, this is making me feel like my heart is a ballerina. As an experiment, I left the last few swigs to try as a chaser for some Tennessee bourbon, and Sidral Mundet was actually well-suited for this task. This stuff is so butt-clenchingly sweet that it could easily take the edge off a coffee mug full of Everclear.

SCORE: 1.2/10

6. Sioux City Prickly Pear Soda

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“MADE WITH ALL OF THE CANE SUGAR”

Where Can I Get This?

In Big Lots! stores, usually next to cans of sardines that expired sometime in the summer of 1972. ($1.25)

What the Hell is This?

It’s cactus flavored soda. Like the kind of cactus that has a tasty, delicious flavor and not the kind of cactus that liquifies your upper and lower intestines when eaten in Man vs. Wild types of situations.

What’s it Like?

I will go easy on Sioux City (as they managed to keep the greatest soda of all time on life support for a few years after its original demise), but yeah, it tastes pretty much like a drinkable version of those hard candies on your grandma’s candy dish. It is also faintly reminiscent of those old wine coolers that you used to sneak from parties as a teenager. There’s a hint of unique cactus taste with each sip, but this soda is too sweet to quench your thirst and too weird of a flavor to be used as a chaser, unless you are trying to get wasted on hobo vomit.

Other Notes:

This is probably one of the safest food-related products you can get at Big Lots. This soda tastes best when you drink it while playing with that big box of generic wrestling action figures you also picked up.

Score 1.9/10

5. Dublin Cherry Limeade

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About as Irish as Taco Bell.

Where Can I Get This?

This can be found at Safeway stores, one of the last few bastions in this universe that aren’t owned by the Kroger Brothers.

What The Hell Is This?

Cherry and lime flavored sugar water, obviously. ($0.99)

What’s it Like?

This thicc stuff tastes like you’re drinking Sno-Cone syrup straight from the pumper thing like some sort of animal. The overall flavor is decently pleasant as it utilizes equal parts of both lime and cherry. While I have an affinity for lime flavored stuff, the overwhelming sugar content makes me feel like I am just drinking nothing but unfiltered diabetes. In order to make this stuff suck a little less, I used some tricks I learned on the streets to make it more palpable. I cut this with some 7-Up and by doing this, it actually improved both sodas. This is the only soda on this list that can be improved by adding more soda to it.

Other Notes:

There are also about 5 other brands of cherry limeade on the weird soda rack at Safeway, which seems like a really odd market to try and corner with capitalism. They are all pretty equally gross.

Score: 3.2/10

4. Kimura Ramune (normal and strawberry versions)

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They don’t even try to make it NOT look like candy.

Where Can I Get This?

Kroger grocery stores and select Hot Topic locations ($1.57)

What The Hell is This?

Traditional Japanese lemon and lime soda, and the other one has traditional artificial strawberry color and flavor added.

What’s it Like?

Ramune tastes like an Arnold Palmer that’s crafted out of Sprite and lemonade. There’s an indescribable, yet sinister aftertaste that clearly differentiates this from “normal” lemon-lime sodas. That probably comes from frustration that comes from the seventeen step instruction manual it takes to open the bottle.

Other notes:

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Turns out that Ramune traditionally utilizes something called a “Codd-Neck” bottle, that was first designed in 1872. The carbonation in the drink is released when a glass marble is pushed downward into the neck, trapping it a lady parts-shaped prison forever. When you drink Ramune, the marble rattles around rather irritatingly, and this also doubles as portion control. Only small sips of the drink are allowed through the neck unless you can tip it to the exact degree to let it flow freely.

If you are still thirsty, Ramune also comes in all kinds of other delicious flavors, including teriyaki sauce!

Score: 7.2/10

3. Green River

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“Have a bitchin’ summer” – Chad

Where Can I Get This?

This is going to sound like I’m bullshitting you, but you can only get this at….Ace Hardware. ($2.25)

What The Hell is This?

Green River is a Chicago native, invented under duress during the darkest point in American history: Prohibition. It also has a really uneasy green hue that looks a little too much like antifreeze.

What’s It Like?

Fuck your lemons, Green River is purely a lime flavored soda. It’s extremely sweet, but is still really enjoyable because it tastes you’re drinking a green gum drop that fell in the juicer. On the back of the bottle, it recommends using this as an ice cream topping or to add some vanilla ice cream to the Green River for a lime float. I would try these recipes, but it’s a real pain in the ass getting my hands on more bottles of Green River. I already know how fucking weird I look going into a hardware store and only walking out with 4 bottles of green soda.

Other Notes:

This old-school elixir has been in hiding (other than in establishments in Chicago) for the last 20 years. It’s cool to see that it survived the Cola Wars and managed to stage a comeback. While it’s great to have again, I personally preferred Green River when it was nationally distributed in 12 packs of cans in the 80’s. The aluminum cans seemed to neutralize some of the tartness, turning Green River into something that was actually refreshing. Green River is a classic drink that also doubles as an ice cream topping and automotive coolant.

Score: 8.5/10

2. Crystal Pepsi

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“Right now, PIGS ARE BECOMING LUNCH”

Where Can I Get This?

For only two weeks in late August, there is a massive marketing blitz put on by PepsiCo and bottles of Crystal Pepsi are literally fucking everywhere. However, after those two weeks have passed, it vanishes without a trace from retailers and memory. Once the tumbleweeds blow through the soda aisle, Crystal Pepsi can then only be purchased at 20 bucks a bottle on eBay. ($1.98 in season) ($20.99+shipping out of season)

What The Hell is This?

Crystal Pepsi is the Clear Choice in Cola. This is the most 90’s thing you can put in your mouth, other than Vanilla Ice’s dick. We absolutely fucking love this stuff here at tehben.com, and would happily bathe in the stuff if given the chance. Even though it blooms and fades quickly without notice each year, we are still very grateful that it hasn’t been officially killed off yet.

What’s It Taste Like?

It tastes like a crisp near-cola. Crystal Pepsi is sweet, light, and genuinely refreshing, and has the side effect of increasing your desire to wear giant fucking pants. Other people claim to taste slight notes of cinnamon, or even possibly a little lemon, but that’s just crazy talk to me. Take it from me, Crystal Pepsi tastes it’s best when consumed while watching episodes of Liquid Television on YouTube or listening to Pearl Jam albums. Crystal Pepsi also brings out my worst hoarding tendencies, as I buy up cases at a time as I am never completely sure that it will return again next summer.

Other Notes:

Crystal Pepsi is life.

Score: 10/10

1. Private Selections Huckleberry Hibiscus Cream Soda

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Still more manly than a bottle of Bud Light.

Where Can I Get This?

Kroger Stores. ($1.25 with Soopercard)

Seriously, What The Hell is This?

It’s huckleberry hibiscus cream soda!! I assure you that this shit is absolutely not Faygo.

What Does it Taste Like?

This soda has a dreamlike, crisp angelic quality to it. This soda tastes like the color lavender. The cream soda notes in the finish tease your mouth into taking another sip once the first silky sip has gone past the back of your throat. It tastes sophisticated and layered, even if you’re unsure as to what a huckleberry actually is supposed to taste like. I guess a huckleberry is supposed to be have a flavor comparable to a blueberry, but I swear to you that this soda tastes nothing like a muffin.

Final Notes:

After discovering my new favorite, I went and cleaned out the 5 King Soopers that are within 10 miles of me the next day. I figured they would restock quickly and I could begin the process anew a few days later. Other consumers must have seen me doing this, and (this sounds insane) caused there to be a massive shortage of huckleberry soda in the Denver area. For weeks, they have carried all the Private Selections flavors except for the huckleberry one. The empty slot had a “temporarily unavailable” tag on it for months. As of last week, some of the herds have returned, but it is still stocked in very limited supply. If you stumble across any bottles of this in the wild, be sure try a few for yourself.

(not a paid endorsement by Private Selections Inc.)

Score: 156/10

What are your guilty carbonated pleasures? Did I miss anything obvious? Let me know in the comments below!

Teh Ben is a soda blogger and termite apologist. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, Google+, and wherever tacos are sold. Don’t worry about startling him, as he’s not able to outrun anything anymore with that Winnie The Pooh ass of his.

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