It’s summertime. It has been summertime for a good long while now, actually, but here in Kentucky the full force of summer hadn’t hit me until fairly recently. It must be said that I generally die during the summer time of year. The blistering heat and suffocating humidity do me no favors, and the harsh rays of the earth’s yellow sun give me freckles and a tan. How can I be “Amandoll, Undead Creature of the Night” if I am sporting a healthy tan? I cannot be, that’s how.
I am a girl who enjoys clinging to the silver lining, however, and fortunately I can come up with two things I enjoy about summer: soft serve ice cream cones from locally owned dairy shacks, and grape soda. Grape soda is probably a tasty treat all year long, but I do not thirst for it until the temperatures reach 90F (32C) and above, which actually is a temperature it still can reach in the autumnal months. It is also better when there is a drought on, because walking down alley ways behind businesses while a fine dust blows in your eyes is the PERFECT time to be sipping from a cold and slender glass bottle of that purple wonder elixir.
Previously, I had been under the mistaken impression that all grape drinks were created more or less the same. How many differences could there be in a product that contained soda water, purple color, and sweetener? Well, actually I don’t really know myself, so I have decided to conduct a Consumer Report for the world to reference as a resource. I am going to select a small variety of grape drink beverages and test them against the horrible summer heat. I will grade them on Flavor, Mouthfeel, Thirst Quench, Packaging, and Arbitrary Impressions. There will be technical jargon bandied about, and an air of scientific study will be apparent. So put on your eye goggles, sneer enthusiasts, because I’m going Purple Drank Sippin’!
Faygo est 1907 Original Grape artificially flavored grape soda 12 fl oz made with 100% cane sugar
No Caffeine, Low Sodium
Total Fat 0g
Total Carb 50g
Ingredients: carbonated water, cane sugar, citric and tartaric acid, potassium benzoate (as preservative), artificial flavor, gum acacia, red 40 and blue 1
out of DEEtroit, MI
Faygo is a popular brand. I frequently see it on the shelves of ALL grocery stores, apparently because I live within a certain reasonably close distance to Detroit. Sorry for the rest of you Faygoless suckers. (note: I haven’t actually ever had any other Faygo than the one in this article). However, because I like to randomly make my life more difficult because I enjoy being impossible to please, I do not particularly try new sodas that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. As an aside, I am not sure that I actually believe in the claims that HFCS give you worse health than plain old cane sugar, but as I mentioned, I do like to place occasional restrictions on myself so that I can complain that there just ain’t enough sody pops that I can drink because I want REAL sugar, dang it!
So I found a Faygo at the store that was made with PURE cane sugar: an oddity. The glass bottle was fairly attractive with its old time charms that did not feel the need to be all up in my face with its wacky XTREME ways, as it seems the more common varieties like to do. I would say that this Grape Faygo had a quiet dignity that I supposed meant that it would carry a subtle, delicate drink within. I was wrong!
Let me paint the picture for you. It was 93F (34C) outside, out there in that awful world. I was in the sunlight. I was suffering greatly. I really wanted a drink, so I decided it was the perfect moment to test the thirst-quenchability of this Faygo Drink. I expected at least SOME slaking of my thirst, SOME refreshment. But I received none. I felt like I drank liquid Skittle, and yes it was cold, but cold liquid Skittle is still terrible. My thirst actually INTENSIFIED. I was ruined. I had to actually go find a water source in order to wash out the severe sweetness that remained.
Premium Fitz’s since 1947 Grape Pop 12 fl oz
Total Fat 0g
Total Carb 46g
Protein less than 1g
Ingredients: filtered carbonated water, cane sugar, natural and artificial flavors, tartaric acid, sodium benzoate (a preservative), FD&C colors red #40 and blue #1
out of St Louis, MO
Ah, delicious Fitz’s Grape Pop. From the label featuring an exciting design of complimentary colors, to the light flavor – Fitz’s is a refreshing treat. This beverage was not especially sugary, which, let me tell you, was actually a relief. My aunt, a known Sweet Tooth, didn’t much care for it, and likened it to a Kool Aid with not enough sugar, however, I was sick of sugar. I wanted relief from thirst, and this drink brought it. The bottle is a brown color of glass, so I had to pour some into an ordinary clear drinking glass in order to enjoy the lovely amethyst coloring and the mouthfeel was as velvet on my parched tongue. Yes, I shall be drinking Fitz’s again. Wonderful.
An added element of fanciness occurred when I realized I needed to use a bottle opener to get at this liquid within. Bottle openers denote high class for some reason, and when it is required for a flavored soda, it is a delight. You feel as though perhaps the tooth decay you are risking is in some way elegant. And now you know my opinion of bottle openers!
Micro-Crafted Non-Carbonated Pennsylvania Punch
No nutritional label
ingredients: filtered water, sugar, natural & artificial flavor, natural and artificial color, citric acid, less than 1/10 of 1% benzoate of soda – a preservative
out of Natrona, PA
I decided to try the Pennsylvania Punch this year from the comfort of my parents’ house. We were having a birthday party for my uncle and I started my day with some of that ol’ Penn Punch. The labeling is plain, simple, which turns out to perfectly represent the delicious liquid within. They boast that this is a non-carbonated beverage, but I swear there is a bit of fizz to it, very very light fizz. This is great for me, as I honestly detest carbonation. However, any of you who are actually reading this for an honest source of Purple Soda Review, I must tell you that this isn’t really a Soda Pop. It is a purple drink only.
The liquid is a medium sort of purple, almost a brown, and is as thirst-quenching as brown liquid can be. For those of you not in the Know, let me mention here that as far as colors go, Brown Color is “rather thirst-quenching, but actually a little too sweet to actually quench.” Brown Purple Drink is the kind of drink you drink for the flavor, and then follow it up with a nice glass of water. That is, if you value your kidneys and those organs.
Red Ribbon Sodium Free Grape Soda
no nutritional label
ingredients: filtered carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavor, natural and artificial color, citric acid
also out of Natrona, PA
It was a GODDAMN hot summer day, as they often are. I was hankering for a little lunch, as I often seem to do — almost daily. I decided, “Hey, let’s try another Grape Soda!” Lord god. This Red Ribbon Sodium and Caffeine Free Grape Soda… It tastes EXACTLY like the purple suckers I used to get at the Frisch’s Big Boy when I was a child. Like, maybe a handful of you readers will understand that comparison, so I will try to be a little more descriptive… It is sweet, but not the sweetest. It is like candy, but the sort of candy it is like carries a little tartness to it. This dark purple drank is very similar to what I imagine fizzy grape juice would be like — but not like Juicy Juice or Welch’s grape juice… More like some cheap generic “grape” juice made with flavoring and ditch water. The gallon jug of “grape juice” that costs 79 cents. Only fizzy. Upon first sip, I did not care for it. My mouth could not tell if it was too sweet or too tart, and then I was not sure if what I was experiencing was actually a combination of sweet and tart (without tasting like a Sweettart candy).
It is pretty thirst-quenching I GUESS. Well, not actually. It isn’t that it is overly thick and syrupy, because it isn’t really. It is just… not that great, I guess. And I don’t know if I have this headache from being outside for two minutes, or if the BEVERAGE is to blame. Maybe it started just as I was reminded that there is no caffeine in here. It claims to be “Pennsylvania Preferred,” and if that is the case, then Pennsylvanians need to get a sense of taste. Also, Pennsylvanians can KEEP IT.