Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holiday Soda

Holiday Soda

Turkey In The Straw

Recently, it came to my attention that Jones Soda company sells special "Holiday Flavor" sodas. Which in itself isn't too unique — plenty of companies release seasonal bundles. What made this Holiday Pack so intriguing was that each soda attempted to recreate the flavors of a Traditional Holiday Meal. So, I had to try it — the child in me cannot resist the prospect of drinking something so foul-sounding as a turkey-flavored soda.

Of course, what initially caught my eye was the Corn on the Cob soda. I, along with others, have explored the prospect of a corn-flavored soda in the past. We dubbed it Moaf, and it merely waits on the sidelines until one of us learns how to generate this cob-derived nectar. In the meantime, the chance to try someone else's unintentional "beta" Moaf was too exciting to pass up! Unfortunately, Jones Soda only produced the Holiday Pack with Corn on the Cob in a few select regions, none of which I currently inhabit.

However, I was still excited to try the national Holiday Pack. So excited, that I forgot all about it... until Kim arrived home with the package. When I finally got a free night and some willing recruits, I staged my own taste-testing.

A Carbonated Celebration

Four servings of Wild Herb Stuffing

Our menu for the night featured:

Main Entree:
Slow Roasted Turkey & Gravy
Side Dishes:
Wild Herb Stuffing
Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto
Cranberry with Orange Zest
Pumpkin Pie de la Creme Fresca

In preparation, I chilled the sodas, and stole the stack of dixie cups from the bathroom. Each course was served one at a time, and each participant received a dixie cup's worth of soda each time. I served the courses in a random order, so that the other participants could try and guess which particular dish they were drinking.

In the interest of science, I generated a scoresheet for each participant, so that they may record their experience. For those of you who crave to hear our exact reactions, feel free to download the .pdf of the scoresheet here. Each soda is also ranked on a sliding scale from Happy Face to Unhappy Face; although, in the end, we needed to alter the extremity of the scale a bit. There were some unexpected... results.

A Meal fit for A Thirsty King

So here's a synthesis of our findings. I've presented each course in the order we drank them, and tried to give you the best distillation of our collective experience. First on the menu...

Wild Herb Stuffing

This really set the stage; I think we were all shocked after our first taste. We were expecting a pleasant concoction, with a mild "herby" flavor — but as it turns out, there was nothing but the flavor of stuffing. Not to mention it was completely devoid of sweetness, but in my opinion, that's what made it drinkable. In fact, I finished my dixie cup, as well as Kim's and Niff's.

Cranberry with Orange Zest

The reaction to the Herb Stuffing was so overpoweringly negative, I felt it best to follow up with something more palatable, to keep my taste-testers from mutiny-ing before the third soda. In the end, this was a good strategy; most everyone eventually ranked this as their favorite. I myself felt it had a bit of an "assy" smell, so it was not my preferred favorite.

Slow Roasted Turkey & Gravy

On to the main course! This was probably the one everyone was most curious about. It was also the most important soda; because after one taste, we understood the gravity of our situation. We were deep in the jungle — and it was going to get worse before it got better.

I have to admit, this did taste like Turkey and Gravy, but it was a mellow undertone. On top, was a cloying sweetness that you would never find in a solid Turkey dinner. How the hell did it get here? Not to say the soda would have been superb otherwise; it had the smell and color of the meat juice you find soaked into the packaging of raw chicken, a most confusing quality to emulate. If they did get some of the flavoring from an actual turkey, it was predominantly from the skin.

Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto

At this point, you can hopefully appreciate the timidity I felt before opening our fourth course. Immediately after removing the cap, I knew it was a mistake. The smell was a clear warning.

Of all the sodas, I imagine this one was the toughest to engineer. The sodologists must have panicked here, understanding that their attempt to create a "Brussels Sprout" equivalent yielded only a sewery, compost-ish taste. So in desperation, they poured in all the "Buttered Popcorn" flavoring they could find. When that failed to improve things, they added a few hasty fistfuls of sugar, pulled their coats over their heads, and ducked out of the lab. They're probably still hiding in a corner somewhere, full of the same fearful regret dogs feel when you catch 'em peeing on your rug.

As for the results... if you did download the scoresheet, you'd notice everyone drew little cups to indicate how much they drank. Notice how full all of these cups are. This was unquestionably the lowest ranked course. Nevertheless, Brussels Sprouts does deserve respect for being the only soda to make anyone actually vomit.

Pumpkin Pie de la Creme Fresca

I picked this one last, because I hoped it would be the most pleasant; and after the Brussels Sprouts, we were all hopeful things would end on a high note. After all, this is a dessert, right? It should be a cinch to make this one taste good.

And yet...

Pumpkin Pie had some serious problems. The flavor was reminiscent of pumpkins — but who asked for that? The taste that everyone likes in a pumpkin pie is actually nutmeg, and nutmeg isn't winning any beauty pageants without sugar there to tape its breasts. Not to say it wasn't sweet; but it was a chemical sweetness, probably owing to the fact it relied 100% on "sucralose" as a sweetener.

If you gave me this soda, and asked me to guess what the flavor was, I probably would have said "Butterscotch". Which could be an all right flavor. But following on the heels of Brussels Sprouts, a "buttery" taste was not a virtue. Most everyone found this reprehensible; except Sutter, who seemed to delight in swig after tiny swig, leading me to believe he's nursing a sucralose addiction.

Casualties of War

A Stuffing Turkey Gravy Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Pumpkin Pie Martini

After we had finished the courses, it was left to Sutter and I to finish the leftovers. We gathered any remaining dixie cups, and poured them all into a glass. Since I had removed all the Brussels Sprouts leftovers from the table on account of their smell, I had to go back in the fridge to steal a couple of drops from the bottle. Like a returning king, Brussels Sprouts immediately executed all other odors that dared lay claim to its stinky, stinky throne. With courage, Sutter and I each took a swig of the concoction, before surrendering to our inevitable defeat.

While I didn't expect everything to taste so wretched, I should have — There were warning signs. The Holiday Pack comes with wine recommendations, suggesting that they want you as sedated as possible before you start tasting. Also included with the package was a spork, presumably to help scoop Niff's puke out of my sink. A more subtle sign was that the soda went flat immediately, as if the gas was desperate to escape the bottle as soon as possible. If a carbon dioxide molecule has hands, there's probably microscopic claw marks on the inside of the cap.

But... Did you Enjoy it?

The funny thing is... I actually did. I didn't expect everything to taste incredible; nor would I have wanted it to. I mean, you don't watch car racing for the race; you're there for the crashes. In fact, I'm gonna try and get my hands on the other Holiday Pack, the one with Corn on the Cob, and Pecan Pie... and Broccoli Casserole.

No Brussels Sprouts, though. Thank God.

Comments on this Article

There are currently 40 comments.

[ Add one of your own! ]

Biggest Apple

i wonder if they'll ever do an 'international Holiday' version. The idea of a Toad In The Hole soda is both vile and intriguing which seems to be the criteria for these things anyway.

I'd also like to go on record as saying that i NEVER want to know how they made Cranberry with Orange Zest taste 'assy'.

Lastly, I find the gathering of all leftovers into one glass strangely appropriate. Years ago when I worked in the restaurant industry we would put all the leftover drinks into a bucket. This was called 'Monkey Spit'. I think a Mojo is called for.

Biggest Apple

btw, your pdf scoresheet is slightly lacking in the content department (there ain't nothing there).

Terry Tolleson

"…microscopic claw marks on the inside of the cap."

That still has me chuckling.

The comments on the "Scoresheet" are pretty hilarious too. I actually like the layout of the sheet. It is so amazing to me to see how awesome you guys are as designers. To even design a scoresheet for a soda sippin' soiree.

Thanks for taking those bullets for us. However, I practice the motto: "Try everything once" so I am likely to try these regardless of the reviews here… Ever have natto?


Apple - Ah! I think that might be because I exported it as a later version. I'll re-export...

Terry - Scoresheets, Forms and Applications are the HEART of design! As boring as they are... they can be pretty fun once in a while.. :D


What were they thinking when they decided on these flavours? "Hey, I know, let's take normal food and make it into horrendous drinks that nobody in their right mind would have ever asked for!"
Where's the pizza flavoured one, or the grilled cheese? I know they're not seasonal, but those guys were on a roll.


JCRogers - I can see what you mean. When I purchased the set a week ago, it was one of the many piled on top of eachother, marked "clearance". But… there is still a market of crazies out there. Just look how popular the Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans were!


i wanted to try these, but never came across them. thanks for giving me the virtual experience.

so what do you think would be the hardest food to translate to soda form?


At a thanksgiving Pot-Luck at work, my boss broke out a 12 pack of these things.

Needless to say, I over ate, and then tasted these sodas, and others. Everything was O.K. except for the Salmon and Capers soda. Not sure if you saw that one, but I pretty much had that aftertaste for the entire rest of the day. Every burp, every yawn, every swallow of water or food, was accompanied by a nasty synthetic syrupy salmon aroma.

Kinda made us all feel like kids again. You know: Like playing with worms and dirt and GI-Joes, and trying to gross out the girls on the block.

Chris Jones

The scoresheets had me in tears! I can't believe they actually made those flavours.

hmm, stangely, even after reading how horrible they tasted, I'm still curious to try them for myself.


all this talk of moaf and savory sodas really makes me desire corn in a can. i think the seller is the tagline, "It's a-maize-ing!" lord knows i can't resist a pun. also, i'm going to have to start using the word "assy" more often in conversation. thanks bear! (would you prefer it if i called you 'bear' or 'kevin'....or 'k-bear'?)


We must find that other holiday set before the clearance racks shove them off. I will personally offfer a reward to anyone who picks one up for us. Not even a crap reward - a good one! Perhaps Mr. Cornell will even offer something up?

also, i stand by my pumpkin pie rating! Much better than that ass piss stuffing!


Wayne - I would say the Cola nut. They've been trying it for years and it's still not right.

By the way, honorary proofreader, is "mutiny-ing" an actual word?

Aaron - You had the corn? How was it! Tell me!!!!?

Paul - You can call me whatever you feel appropriate. After your first mouthful of Moaf I'm sure it'll be "Genius".

Sutter - Agreed. I will gladly draw some sort of gift in return for getting the Holiday Pack with Corn on the Cob.


"...and nutmeg isn't winning any beauty pageants without sugar there to tape its breasts." My new favorite sentence ever. The comment is showing up as I type it? GENIUS!


Haha! Well... the genius is ol' Inman. He put it in for me...


"mutinying" is perfectly good english, as the oed will attest. on the other hand, it's not very euphonious, so you probably should have used a different word. given the product you were consuming, i think "revolting" would be the best option.


Good call, Wayne. Now is Euphonious an actual word? ;)


I could bring some desert in for the holidays, Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda. Which if it didn't have the diet after taste, might actually be good.
Shame about the Brussel Sprout one, I love those things.


euphonious was the 11th roman emperor. or was he the 11th pope? maybe he was both. in any case, it's a perfectly promulent word.


I still feel sick just thinking about them. People really can't grasp how putrid these things really were. reading your post made me even kinda wanna try them again...and then my brain kicks in and says " do you really like drinking garbage can water?"

ick.....stay away!


well then, 'walter', i shall await this bubbly beverage of corn-make eagerly!


maybe you're on to something.. maybe they were recreating garbage water and sink pipe juice, then calling then something they couldn't possibly recreate.. all in an effort to trick sillies into being silly

The Philanthropist

you know, A local radio station (Phoenix) was doing a taste test a few weeks back with these. The DJ said after opening all the drinks that it smelled like Thanksgiving that had just taken its shoes off...yum...


Oh God. Now I can actually taste the Brussel sprout / popcorn concoction...

Never the less, I laughed all the way through this article.

Good sir, I wish I had your courage.


'gives me the sensation of shitting water and vomiting shit simultaneoulsy', but still 'smells good'.

Now whoever created a drink that can still smell good after this sensation is a genius.

Steve K.

That was a truly funny article. Your writing was good too. I could almost feel the apprehension as you and your friends reached for the glass of Brussel Sprouts. After it was all over did you burn that stuff out with some whisky?


Truly, HI-larious! Mmmm, how about candied yam soda?? Or asparagus!!


Wow. Thank you all for doing this before I bought a case for part of someone's Christmas gift- someone that I like. God bless your stomach of steel.


uh oh...somebody beat you to the punch by about a year. Turkey punch that is.



Well, I can say one thing… Last year's packaging was ten times better.


Although this article was pretty long I read the whole thing. I was so intrigued. It was like something you would find in Willy Wonka or Harry Potter or something. Like "Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Jelly Beans".

The bad thing is I would be one of those people that would want to buy these sodas too.

I suggest Ham, BBQ Ribs, Baked Beans or maybe Pizza for the next ones.


BANDELIN - I didn't comment before now because I remembered that article, but couldn't bother looking for the site (thanks ;))...but KC kicked their asses, of course :P

I also took the liberty of cliquifying (is that a real word? :P) the URL:



Ahh well. At least this time I was only pre-dated by a web page, instead of a book, like what happened with Learning Black & White.

And at the VERY least, I made Niff throw up. Life is about those little victories.


So you're saying I should serve these to my family for Christmas dinner?



i'm surprised no one has touched on the potential of this fab fun pack as mixers. i'm thinking a brussel sprout manhattan would be a great starter followed by a wild herb stuffing margarita. as that sweet mix migrates beyond the gullet, a turkey & gravy daquiri can squelch the rumbling. now, you are feeling a little brave and opt for the bacardi 151 shot with the pumpkin pie chaser. whew... (*gurp*) don't spew. we're gonna get ya regular with a cranberry and dubonnet cordial. happy holidays. be sure to get a digital shot of the puddle of hurl. might make for quite a colorful holiday card.


Norm... I will never hire you to bartend. Well... maybe just this Saturday.


Please tell me this is a very elaborate and well-executed hoax. Please...


Nope. Want some soda?


A few friends of mine and I did the same thing, only our portions were much, much less than what you guys had. We're talking like "a sip" at most.

I'm thinking about giving the rest away to my friends for Christmas.


A sporke with soda? What other use could it have? Thanks for sharing your adventure with Jones unique take on soda. I had seen these a couple of years ago but never had the nerve to try them. Now I think I am glad I didn't.


I bought this for my Family Yankee Swap gift. I printed out your scoresheet to give the lucky person who gets to take him this soda. Oh, I found it at Target department store, and it was on clearence for $7 (US).
-John:^) in Boston
PS- after reading this site, I must admit that I am quite intrigued, and may go purchase my own set this evening.

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