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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jones Soda Tofurky and Gravy

The Kibbitzer-in-Chief is, without a doubt, the best wife (and research assistant) EVER. She is one of those rare people who doesn't like chocolate--and yet she willingly makes brownies which are outstanding morsels of moist chewy rich chocolatey goodness. She doesn't much like soda, but she consistently finds samples of the Weirdest Weird sodas around.
And this season...she has outdone herself.
For lo, she did order for me a package of Jones Soda, which includes three bottles of their 2009 Thanksgiving special holiday flavor, Tofurky and Gravy.

Verily, I tremble in anticipation.

Jones Soda has been putting out unbelievably Weird products around the holidays for several years. In previous years, there were often four unique flavors (such as Green Bean Casserole) in a holiday pack. Ive never been able to get my hands on them before, so I have never had the privilege of sampling one...until now.
This year, it's just the one flavor...but what a shining paragon of Weirdness it is!

Also in the package were three bottles of their new "Zilch" line, which are sucralose-based zero-calorie versions of existing flavors. I'll review those soon, but they'll have to wait their turn.
Also in the package is a metal Tofurky lunchbox. Yes, a lunchbox. It features cartoon drawings of anthropomorphic vegetables--possibly soybeans--performing as part of the Cirque du Tofurky.

That's pretty breathtakingly Weird, yes...but then you come to the bottle. No, wait, that should be capitalized. And italicized.
The Bottle.

First of all, it is labeled "Vegan".
There is no sugar in it.
There is sucralose, but it is the eighth ingredient. Preceding the only sweetener are (in order): carbonated water, salt, natural and artificial flavors, glucono delta lactone, modified food starch, caramel color, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate. Following sucralose are ester gum and medium chain triglyceride.

Yes, this soda is the only one I've ever seen which contains more salt and starch than sweetener. I'm not sure what "modifications" the food starch has undergone, bu according to the nutritional facts, this contains no carbohydrates, so it must be something which modifies them beyond recognition by human digestive enzymes.
This soda contains actual triglycerides.

My God, what madman concocted this?

Reluctantly joining me for this most joyous occasion are the Kibbitzer-in-Chief (who doesn't get to dodge this one) and Punctilius, who has earned her place as the one who not only managed to drink Biotta Digestive Drink, but also (through liberal dilution with raw honey) made it consumable without retching. Not enjoyable, true, but drinkable.

Where and when: purchased directly from Jones Soda, December 2009 (a day which will indeed live in infamy)
Color: A muddy, translucent dark amber. Cloudy, but without visible particulates.
Me: "K-i-C, would you care to register an opinion on the color of this beverage?"
K-i-C: "I don't think you really want me to do that."
Me: "Please?"
K-i-C: "It looks like toilet water, and that's the most polite way I can put that."
Punctilius: "Looks like blood in urine."

Hold the presses. There are tiny bits of there.

Scent: Faint. Salty. Like tears or blood. A bit sweet.
K-i-C: "It doesn't have a strong smell, luckily. Wait, I'm trying to get my nose closer." *does so* "Ugh. There's the turkey."
I don't smell it, but as I get closer, there is a faint hint of something like meatiness.
Punctilius: "The smell's not too awful."

Wait, this is too historic an occasion. I must record it for posterity. I'm going to mike myself. I'll attach an MP3 of the recording, somehow, to this blog post.

Taste: Ummm...hmm.
K-i-C: "UUUUGH."
Punctilius: "It's not that bad."
K-i-C: *spits it back into the cup*
Punctilius: "I kind of like it."
K-i-C: "You're a sick, sick woman."
Punctilius: "I would be if I drank a whole bottle."

The initial taste is pretty sweet, actually, with a strong undertone of saltiness. The Tofurky flavor is faint, barely detectable. However, a few seconds after the sip...the gravy strikes.
And therein lies the horror.
The gravy seems to be the source of the saltiness, but the really bad thing--the thing which even now I can feel corroding my soul--is the hint, the little hint, of fat. That slight tone of greasiness somehow, like a single word whispered into your ear from across a dark room where you thought you were alone, manages to contain a sensation which causes ones viscera to freeze and recoil.
Disgust is the semi-digested flavor of Biotta and Abali.
Horror--REAL horror--is in that hint of grease in Jones Soda Tofurky and Gravy.

I'll try a smaller sip.

No, that's worse. The greasiness hits much sooner with a small sip. The rest really isn't so bad--certainly not a refreshing drink after a hot day of work, but really not as bad as it could be.

I am astonished to find myself wishing that Jones had left out the sucralose. If I'm going to drink a Tofurky and Gravy soda, then it shouldn't be sweet. In that sense, the sucralose really detracts from the authenticity. It gives it the surreal, vertigo-inducing character of a dream, rather than the prosaic, woodcut-like, Norman Rockwell-ish sense of a family Thanksgiving dinner.
Although at some houses, that dinner might also fall under the "surreal, dreamlike horror" label, I suppose.



Yep. The greasiness is bad. Not as immediately grotendous as some things, but pretty awful.

I do so love my calling.

Quaff rating: 2.0. Some of the taste is sort of pleasant.
Cough rating: 3.0. Some of it REALLY ISN'T.

UPDATE: Twenty minutes later, my stomach is cramping and I can still taste the greasiness.

FURTHER UPDATE, THE NEXT DAY: Our visitors (described in the review of Zuberfizz Key Lime Cream Soda) decided to try the Jones. Their reactions:

Anglophilia: "It's like carbonated dishwater! It's like carbonated dishwater on Thanksgiving night!"
Yue: "I just recalled my memory of my grandmother making medicine for my asthma. This was worse. I've never had anything worse than that."

She seems really horrified. This may not be the best way to introduce a visitor to the USA.

Yue: "At first, it's a little bit salty." *waits* "It's...I can't tell what it is." *waits some more* "Not as bad. Can I have yours?"
Anglophilia: "Enjoy!"

Okay, maybe it's not so bad after all.

Click me to hear the initial quaffing.


  1. My mouth tastes bad just thinking about this. Ugh.

  2. Amazing. I have been considering trying this, and shying away from it, for several years, but I would have caved in sometime. Think of the pain you have saved me!

    Also, you guys have very pleasant voices. I always thought of you as having a portentous baritone.

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