Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Swiss Chard and Better-Late-Than-Never Scarves: A Kitchen-Sink Post

Oh, Jones Soda, how I miss thee! When the Engineer and I were living in Portland, Oregon, we didn't have the luxury of a washer and dryer in our apartment building like we do now. Every week along with all the other unluckies within a five block radius, we participated in a weekly neighborhood pilgrimage to the friendly neighborhood laundromat. For those of you who haven't had this experience or for whom that experience is but a distant memory, let me tell you that there is absolutely nothing romantic about the laundromat: the cracking faux-wood paneling on the walls, the act of inspecting your unmentionables in front of a handful of pajama-clad strangers, the brittle fly carcasses gathered at the bottom of the light fixtures, the gritty yellow lighting itself, the inevitable fight to secure neighboring washers and then again to secure neighboring dryers--and not just any washers and dryers but the 'good' washers and dryers (you come to know which ones those are). And lets not even discuss the bathroom.

Needless to say, Laundry Day was not something that the Engineer and I looked forward to. There were heated "discussions" over whether or not Laundry Day was actually necessary in a given week, complex systems of barter and trade if one or the other of us wanted to opt out of Laundry Day for whatever reason, and incredibly competitive games of rock-paper-scissors over who's turn it was to scour the apartment for spare change. But Jones Soda changed everything.

Jones Soda Co. (link HERE) is a Seattle-based juice and soft drink company famous for their wacky and unexpected flavors like Berry White, D'Peach Mode, Crushed Melon, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. They're kind of like the Jelly Belly Jelly Beans of the beverage world. Some of their flavors are incredible and some of them really fall flat (like those I discuss below). The imaginative "family" photographs on their labels, the not-your-average-chinese-fortunes under the cap, and under-the-radar marketing campaign make this the soft drink of choice for Northwest hipsters. (I also want to note that as of January 2007, Jones Soda is switching their juice and soda lines from using high fructose corn syrup to pure cane syrup, an incredibly laudable endeavor. Read about it HERE.)

And one fine spring day, the Engineer and I discovered that the dingy convenience store next to the dingy laundromat was actually a mecca for all our favorite Jones Soda flavors. It became a ritual for us to arrive at the laundromat, stake out claims on washers, get the washers going, stake out claims on one of the folding tables, snag two folding chairs, and then send an emissary next door with our leftover pocket change. We would clink bottles, settle in with books and trashy magazines and knitting, and not speak until the spin-cycle was complete. Laundry Day was still a chore, for certain, but Jones Soda, you certainly took the edge off.

Except for a few national chains like Panera and Target, Jones Soda isn't widely distributed out of the Northwest, so I've been a bit deprived. Perhaps this is what led me to impulsively purchase the Jones Soda 2006 Holiday Pack when I spotted it with the post-Christmas sale items at Target when I was home over Christmas. Yes, I purchased it despite the fact that there were a suspicious number of 2006 Holiday Packs still available, and they were all in the back of the bottom shelf in the deepest hidden corner of the store. And I purchased it despite the fact that the 2006 Holiday Pack was on the "What Not To Buy Me For Christmas" list put out by the Restaurant Guys. I even purchased it despite my own better judgment. Like I said, I had been Jones Soda deprived for several years. And I was rilly buying it for my brother, another Jones Junkie. (Really.) And it was $5. And how awful could turkey flavored soda be, anyways?

My little bro doling out the 'tastings'

Here's the rundown of the sodas in the pack:
Turkey and Gravy Soda
Sweet Potato Soda
Dinner Roll Soda
Pea Soda
Antacid Flavored Soda

There was just something so charmingly Willy Wonka about this whole endeavor. We decided to taste the sodas in the order they are arranged in the box because it seemed to make sense in terms of taste-progression. Up first, Turkey and Gravy Soda!

Verdict: horrible. Apparently turkey and gravy flavored soda can be pretty awful. It really did taste like turkey and gravy. Except carbonated. It was gross. We soldiered through the other flavors, willing to believe that there must be ONE of them that tasted good. The sweet potato had the most potential, but again. It turns out that liquid carbonated sweet potato with a hint of marshmallow is pretty disgusting.

Here's a play-by-play of my mother enjoying her final liquid refreshment "antacid" in this five-course tasting menu:

Hmmm...antacid. It's pink. It's bubbly. Could be good.
She's thinking about it...
She's going for it...
Um, yeah. Again, antacid? Not a good flavor for soda.

The final verdict on these Wacky Fun Holiday Packs? Buy them only when they're on sale...as a gag gift...knowing that you really will be gagging. Fun for the whole family!

On the other hand, if you see any other flavors of Jones Soda, don't let the Holiday Pack deter you. Snap them up and give them a try! (Barry White is my hands down favorite.)

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