The other day, the Lab computer system alerted me to the arrival of an email. Now, this is not such an unusual event; we receive email on a semiannual basis* regarding our reviews. However, despite our busy schedule, I felt it was important for me to see what sort of correspondence awaited.
Lo and behold, we had received email from Jarritos itself! Not only that, but the folks at Jarritos were offering to send us samples of their product for review.
Now, I was somewhat surprised by this. Jarritos is a major soft drink maker; their products are ubiquitous in Mexico (and much of Southern California). I've had several of their flavors before, and reviewed one (Tamarindo) for the Lab.
A couple of quotes from that review:
"There's a strange aftertaste, too--to me, for reasons I'm not sure of, it made the image of licking a basketball come to mind."
"...that sour/bitter flavor is probably what makes me think of pre-vomit saliva, and what makes the K-i-C think of armpit sweat."
"Tastes kind of good, but not as good as bad."
I can only imagine what went through the minds of the corporate officers of Jarritos in deciding** to offer me a sample pack.
Corporate Researcher: "Hmm...ladies and gentlemen, it appears that an anonymous person in north San Diego county has posted unfavorable comments about our Tamarind flavor!"
Marketing executive: "Ye gods, man, surely not! Why, this is an atrocity! A disaster of epic--even Biblical--proportions! The thought of someone...disliking...our soda..." [breaks down in a storm of piteous weeping]
Corporate president: "There there, O Noble VP of Marketing. All is not lost! Surely, by some malign providence...I wouldn't be surprised if it were owing to the agency of an ill-natured fairy...this 'Quaffmaster' was the recipient of adulterated soda."
Corporate president: "Alas, it may be so. Quickly, mobilize the Postal Division. We must send this 'Quaffmaster' samples drawn directly from the pure wellspring of Jarritos itself, that he may see the error and remove this besmirchment, this unspeakable blight, this HIDEOUS CYCLOPEAN STAIN OF SHAME AND HORROR from our corporation. Indeed, until this is done, let all of the bottles henceforth be shipped wrapped in black ribbon, bearing the legend 'Honor Requires It'."
Clearly, I would have to honor this peace gesture.
After a short wait, a box containing a variety of Jarritos flavors. I will now embark upon an odyssey of Jarritos flavors, ending in a return to Tamarindo, and reporting at each stage of my journey.
And, as usual when reviewing sodas sent by corporate sponsors, I will attempt to ensure the high standards of objectivity you have come to expect by inviting the contributions of GALT, our official anti-bias artificial personality.
GALT: I'M JUST %@#$^ING THRILLED TO BE BACK.
Well, we'll begin with Fruit Punch (a.k.a. "Tutifruti").
Where and when: Donated by Jarritos
Color: Bright red, fairly opaque. Really, an impressive scarlet.
Scent: To my surprise, when I try to twist off the cap of the bottle, it doesn't come off and I damage my fingers. Amazing--I'll actually need the bottle opener.
Quaffmaster: "Lead assistant taster! Fetch me the bottle opener!"
LAT: "Yes, master!"
The scent is a bit darker than most fruit punches--more berry, less citrus.
LAT: "I can smell it from here. Smells like Cherry Coke, except more watery."
Maybe. Kind of like a very strong red Gatorade, with a bit of grenadine.
Actually, on second smell, it's more like Welch's grape soda than anything else. I used to have Welch's grape soda by the pool, when I was a kid. That smell, the smell of hot concrete and chlorinated water...they all go together...
GALT: WHAT THE HELL IS THIS &@@#? NO &@$#!ING REMINISCENCES, QUAFFMASTER. IT SMELLS LIKE SOME GRAPE SWILL YOU HAD IN YOUR IDYLLIC @!$%^ING YOUTH. FINE.
Taste: Hmm. Not what I expected at all. Very sweet, almost syrupy, with a moderate amount of carbonated bite. The major flavor is berryish or cherryish, not grape, and it's pretty thick. It lingers strongly in the mouth. Not unlike grenadine, but a bit thicker. Aftertaste is somewhat orangeish. Pretty strong, and would be too sweet to be a good thirst-quencher. On the other hand, it's a fairly nice strong cherry taste. Not sour cherry, or even black cherry--it's more like maraschino cherry. Artificial-tasting, but it is made with real sugar.
GALT: IT TASTES LIKE CHERRY-FLAVORED DEXRON %#@$ING THREE, YOU NITWIT.
No, it's not that bad, but it is awfully syrupy.
Me: "LAT, would you try this and give me your opinion?"
LAT: "No way."
Me: "Oh, come on."
LAT: (quaffs) *grimace, spit* "Very sweet."
JAT: "Mmmm! Good." *pause* "For some reason, the taste is familiar."
LAT: "I like it." *quaff* "It's not bad." *pause* "It's kind of good, sort of."
I guess the LAT has mixed feelings.
K-i-C: *quaffs* *grimaces* *gags* "Here you go." *hands the bottle back* "Oh God, the aftertaste is awful. Is there anything real in that?"
A bit more grape-y than Hawaiian Punch.
Delayed aftertaste: pretty sour.
Quaff rating: 2.5. The taste is okay; I've had much worse cherryish things.
Cough rating: 1.0. Very syrupy, which doesn't bother me that much, but would undoubtedly bother others. Such as half the Lab staff.
**Because I'm absolutely SURE this decision was made at the highest levels of the Jarritos corporation.
Red Ribbon Birch Beer
2 days ago