On Sunday I found myself at 7-11 buying cat food, because that’s what happens when you forget to stock up at the grocery store and then find yourself in the throes of a Meowing Emergency State. I’ve been trying to cut way back on my soda consumption, so of course I made the mistake of looking at the beverage coolers. My eyes were drawn, as they so often are, to the most x-treme ‘90s looking stuff in the case. The black-and-white photos on the labels looked awfully familiar. Sure enough, a closer look revealed a familiar name: Jones.
Jones Soda is a smallish soda company based out of Seattle, known for unusual flavors (approach their holiday packs with caution) and featuring customer-submitted photos on their labels. In my preteen and early teen years, a bottle of Jones was a regular treat on nights my brother and I spent with our dad. I have particularly vivid memories of selecting a flavor and suitably cool label picture on our runs to the supermarket on the way home. I have Ideas about kids of divorce and our weird food attachments, but that will be for a later entry.
Anyway, Jones has been tapped by 7-11 for a line of store-brand sodas. There are five flavors, including unusual-in-the-U.S. fruits like lilikoi and rambutan. I bought them all, because I have no self-control. In my defense, I brought them to a Fiasco session that night to share with friends, thinking a group taste test would be fun. However, my friends are smarter than I am and drank almost none of the soda, leaving me to play Drink Roulette while stabbing everyone in the back and getting off almost scot-free. Jones Soda makes you a character in a Coen brothers movie; pass it on.
The five flavors, in order of testing:
Tropical Slam Rambutan – rambutan, peach, pineapple, guava, and passion fruit.
Smells like: The tropical fruit assortment of Starburst. Uncannily so.
Tastes like: Oddly, not much. No one flavor really stood out above the others. It was pleasant but vague. I’m not familiar enough with rambutan to have been able to pick it out.
Twisted Citrus – lemon, lime, and orange.
Smells like: Generic lemon-lime.
Tastes like: Not much less generic. The three flavors are fairly well-balanced, but as a devotee of citrus sodas, I didn’t find that it left much of an impression.
Fruit Loose – cherry, orange, pineapple, lemon, and lime.
Smells like: Hawaiian Punch. Again, an unsettling facsimile.
Tastes like: Hawaiian Punch, but better. The pineapple and citrus are much more prominent and it has a tarter edge that I found pleasing.
Bluesberry Smash – raspberry, cherry, and strawberry. The color is unsettling even for a blue soda:
Smells like: Overpowering sweetness.
Tastes like: Blue. It is its own flavor now and everyone knows it. Unfortunately, while I’m usually into it, this didn’t pass muster. “Cough syrup,” “melted Gushers,” and “cherry Pop-Tart filling” all came to mind. Comparing junk food to other junk food is the mark of a really sophisticated palate, you guys.
Cocolocolilinut – lilikoi, coconut, pineapple, and mango. I was most dubious about this one.
Smells like: Not suntan lotion, which is a good sign. I finally developed a taste for coconut a few years back, but I’m still cautious about it being done badly, which happens too often.
Tastes like: Really good and refreshing! The pineapple and mango come forward, along with the lilikoi, which is basically tarter passion fruit. The coconut was present but not overbearing. This one ended up being my favorite.
Overall, none of these matched up to the memory of Jones’ regular lineup for me, though it has admittedly been a while. Part of me wants to revisit and part of me is afraid to ruin another fond memory of youth. But seriously, green apple and fufu berry 5ever. That said, I would buy Fruit Loose and Cocolocolilinut again, despite their fairly dumb names.
(A final note: these suckers are significantly caffeinated. I was up until 5 am that night, seeing through space and time. I love you, my readers, enough to risk a panic attack for your sake. Also, I’m pretty stupid.)