Since Zug.com died a rather abrupt
death, I figured I should mirror my work here. Also, this way I
can pretend they're new updates. Excuse the terrible formatting, I
felt like putting in effort to fix it would be an insult to the original
work. Also, I didn't want to put in effort.
As anyone who has to write a last minute article about Thanksgiving can
tell you, the holiday is fast approaching. And we all know that means
the four F's of Thanksgiving: food, family, football, and
I will admit that last one was kind of forced.
Luckily, we have the kind folks at Jones Soda who have been
providing us with questionably-flavored holiday soda for years. I had
long wondered how these flavors actually worked. Were they sweetened
sodas with hints of meats and vegetables, or were they truly flavored
like their horrifying descriptions?
There's only one way to find out: I would taste these bizarre holiday
sodas, along with how they stacked up against their real-world food
Experiment #1: Turkey & Gravy Soda
It's bad enough that I'm dreading this flavor already, but did they
really need to include bare, warmed feet on the label?
Making the prospect of a Turkey & Gravy flavored soda even worse was
that my soda was five years old. (I bought it off eBay.) Well,
I reasoned, Thanksgiving is all about leftovers.
The smell of the soda was truly peculiar: a mildly sweet aroma, with
overtones of turkey gravy. The taste was a combination of sweet and
savory, like sugared gravy. Let's call it "a really unsettling
Forget pills: in the future every meal will come in bottled form
You will usually have some sweetness creeping into your turkey from the
cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, or pie (if you're a weirdo who puts all
your courses on the same plate). But you don't expect the gravy
to be sweet.
I think unsweetened gravy is a tradition for a reason: sweet gravy is
"Turkey & Gravy soda sounds delicious," you might be thinking,
especially if you are obese, "but can it really compare to actually
eating turkey and gravy?" To find out, I compared the soda to the
lowest quality turkey meal on the market: Banquet TV dinners.
Redefining the notion of "white" and "dark" meat
Even handicapped by its 89 cent price tag, real turkey and gravy comes
out way ahead of the soda. The biggest advantages of the real
turkey and gravy: it wasn't sweet, wasn't liquid, and wasn't in a
Experiment #2: Wild Herb Stuffing Soda
The grossest-looking liquid in the world that isn't actually
What goes better with turkey than stuffing? Nothing, of course. But
would stuffing-flavored soda make for an even better complement?
I'm going to assume no, but we should confirm that fact. For science.
Opening the bottle, I was hit with a violent wave of herb aroma. If they
made a stuffing-flavored ramen, the flavor packet would reek like this
soda. Unfortunately, it tastes just like it smells. A bitter taste,
followed by a brutal onslaught of herbs and spices. This is the gin of
sodas, except that gin is awesome, and stuffing soda is wretched. And
right about now, gin is sounding really good.
However, the important question remains: is stuffing soda better than
real stuffing? The answer might actually surprise you.
Oddly enough, it tastes exactly as good as it looks.
It might surprise you, especially if you're paying no attention to what
I wrote above, because of course stuffing soda isn't better. It's
awful! Even this sad, soggy stuffing easily won over the soda.
Experiment #3: Brussels Sprout
The family was excited to be on a soda label, until they found out
which flavor it would be
This was, without a doubt, the soda that I was fearing most. I actually
like Brussels sprouts, but I was concerned about their ability to be a
delicious and refreshing beverage.
You can't accuse Jones Soda of trickery. If that shade of green doesn't
warn you that something is truly amiss, you might be beyond help.
Whatever food dye was used to color the soda could be reused if they
ever decide to make a line of Exorcist-themed beverages.
Ralphie had it easy; this was MUCH worse than Life Boy
I stared at the bottle for a long while, working up the courage to open
it. Finally, I went for it. As the top came off, the room was filled
with this noxious odor. It certainly didn't smell like cabbage. It
smelled like the bottom of a homeless person's shopping cart.
Miraculously, it didn't taste as bad as it smelled. Mind you, that just
means it tasted disgusting, instead of "maybe suicide is a viable
alternative to finishing this."
I'm definitely glad the soda didn't have "butter flavoring."
One thing both the soda and the real food have in common is an
unpleasant smell. While real Brussels sprouts have a faintly off-putting
aroma, the soda smells like it was stored inside the Ark of the Covenant
that the Nazis opened.
Experiment #4: Cranberry
Gosh, that bike seat looks uncomfortable
I was feeling pretty confident when I got to Cranberry. The worst
flavors were certainly behind me, and a cranberry-flavored soda sounded
I should have known it wouldn't be this easy.
Upon opening the bottle, the smell hit me with the question: "Wait, is
this flavored like real cranberries?" Almost anything flavored
with cranberries is awesome, but the fruit itself is kind of terrible.
The soda had that bitter cranberry smell, mixed with the smell of a
bottle of red wine that had been left in a hot car for a few weeks. The
taste of the soda made me think it should be consumed by Norse gods,
drinking it from upside-down skulls. It was incredibly pungent on the
tongue, a mightily-flavored beverage that manly men would drink, before
people like myself came along.
10 points for presentation
Since I didn't know if they were trying to have this soda emulate
real cranberries or cranberry jelly, I pitted the soda
against both. As I said, fresh cranberries are just not good, and
neither was the soda. Still, I don't know if I could declare the soda a
winner. We'll call it a tie.
Cranberry jelly beats the soda, hands down. That is mostly due to the
fact that cranberry jelly is awesome, and gets an unfair reputation from
people who are too afraid to enjoy foods where the serving can be
described as "cylindrical."
Experiment #5: Pumpkin Pie
Ironically, a lizard would taste about as good as what lives inside
This time of year, everything comes in "pumpkin" flavor. Beer, coffee,
donuts, Pop-Tarts, and of course pumpkins. It's the flavor you can't get
away from, but wouldn't want to. Because pumpkin-flavored foods are
almost always awesome.
Which is why I had such high hopes for Pumpkin Pie soda. Opening the
bottle, though, something seemed wrong. Sure, I was getting all the
right spice scents, but something else was crashing through my sinuses:
The soda smelled, and tasted, like raw pumpkin pie mix. Which, if
this was a flavor like cookie dough or cake batter, might work. But raw
pumpkin, no matter how fancied up with cinnamon it gets, is
I guess I should be grateful they only decided to have it smell
and taste like raw pumpkin mix. At least there weren't chunks
pulp and seeds floating around in the liquid.
I don't understand why my career as a food photographer never took
Not surprisingly, actual pumpkin pie wins out. You know why? Because
it was cooked.
And that wraps up the most disgusting and depressing Thanksgiving meal
ever. On the bright side, this meal doesn't stretch the waistline like a
normal Thanksgiving dinner, since all these sodas have zero calories.
Yes: diet disgust!
I'm not sure why they went for the target market of "people who want to
try weird and disgusting flavors, but don't want to get fat," but
somehow they reeled me in.
Unfortunately, the meal was over, but the experiment was not. Time for
This collection of Jones Soda is supposed to revolve around the "tastes
of football." I was surprised there was no Cool Ranch Doritos flavor,
until I realized they meant the tastes of playing football, not
Experiment #6: Dirt
Looks like someone didn't have time to pull over.
The flavor I was most interested to try was Dirt. Which is a sentence I
never expected to write.
The color of the soda is truly disturbing. It looks like the water in
bottles that people leave on their porch to extinguish cigarettes.
Opening the bottle, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of a rancid
smell. Clearly I've been doing these experiments for too long, when I'm
disappointed that something I'm about to put in my body doesn't
I guess I've got a dirty mouth (rimshot)
The soda confirmed it: dirt doesn't actually taste that bad. It
certainly wasn't good, it just didn't taste like anything,
really. Which is probably pretty accurate. I can't say for sure, since I
haven't eaten dirt in at least five years, so I don't remember what it
But come on ... if you're going to make a soda named Dirt, take some
creative license. Grape-flavored ice pops don't taste like real grapes,
so who says dirt-flavored soda has to follow all the rules?
I am offended. How dare they not disgust me at the level to which I have
Experiment #7: Perspiration
Jones REALLY has the market cornered on stupid consumers
Perspiration is the Latin term for what is now commonly known as
"sweat." After the Great Dirt Soda Fiasco, I was curious how they would
approach a sweat-flavored soda. Would it be an artistic take on the
idea of sweat? I thought. Or would it be ... and then I saw
the first two ingredients were carbonated water and salt, and realized,
they're going the realistic route.
I guess the one good thing I can say about sweat-flavored soda is that
it tasted cleaner than ocean water. But that awful taste is one of the
many reasons I hate going to the beach, ranking just behind "inevitable
sunburn" and "people."
I'll be in the water, trying to enjoy myself despite weird, unknown
things touching my legs. Then I'll get seawater in my mouth, and try to
wipe it off on my arm, which is also covered in seawater. So, no thank
you to a soda that tastes like the Atlantic Ocean.
Experiment #8: Sports Cream
For internal use only
Let's cut to the chase: this is Ben-Gay flavor. No one refers to it as
"sports cream," just as no one says, "I just cut my finger, do you
happen to have an adhesive bandage?" Even during the times when I
could actually use Ben-Gay, I never did, because the smell always
repulsed me. I was expecting this one to be pretty terrible, and just
hoping the Sports Cream flavor wouldn't cause my tongue to go numb.
The smell of the soda immediately let me know they got that part exactly
right. Opening the bottle smelled like the locker room of an over-40
men's hockey league.
Tasting the soda was a truly surreal moment. After that dead-on smell, I
was expecting it to taste like liquid Ben-Gay. However, it actually
tasted good. Really good, in fact.
The Sports Cream flavor tasted almost exactly like my favorite gum,
Teaberry. No one understands why it is my favorite gum when I tell them
that it tastes like Pepto Bismol. I know that isn't the most
enticing description, but it doesn't change the fact that Teaberry is
This was one of the few sodas that had sugar in it, which might be why
it tasted so good. Maybe their marketing slogan for this one should be,
"It's Flavored Like Ben-Gay, But Don't Worry ... It Has Sugar."
Experiment #9: Natural Field Turf
Describing that shade of green, "natural" is one of the last words I
The Turf soda has one of the stranger colors. The first three football
sodas all had vaguely bodily fluid colors, while Turf's color was more
along the lines of "Predator blood."
Another misguided attempt to turn myself into a Ninja Turtle
The smell will bring you back to those happy days of summer. As long as
you have fond memories of laying in a pile of warm grass clippings.
The strong grass clippings smell and taste was similar to those
"infused" waters. It was like drinking Metromint. I don't dislike
water flavored with unsweetened mint, but it's not something I'd like
right now. It was the same thing with Turf: I wasn't actually repulsed
by the grass flavor, but I could certainly do without it. Forever.
Experiment #10: Sweet Victory
Not the most manly shade of blue
Sweet Victory is their consolation soda. If you made it this far, here's
a legitimate flavor for you, to make up for it.
The smell of Sweet Victory is basically pure sugar. Which makes
sense, since the taste seems to be cotton candy. I don't know what it
says about me that I'd rather drink a bottle of Ben-Gay soda than one
flavored like cotton candy.
Probably the closest I came to any sort of "victory" in this
The tough part about drinking Sweet Victory was that it pretty much
tasted like liquid sugar, or perhaps an advanced, weaponized version of
liquid sugar. Hopefully I can find a Novocaine soda; that way I can just
take care of the inevitable cavities myself.
While these sodas didn't quite equal a Thanksgiving experience by
themselves, they did offer some of the same results: upset stomach,
shame, and exhaustion. I just hope it's not too difficult to explain to
my family why my breath smells like Ben-Gay.