I'm a huge fan of beverages. I consider them kind of a hobby. I am a sucker for cute packaging and pomegranate flavor. It's hard for me to see a commercial for Starbuck's Spritzer without then seeking out Starbuck's Spritzer. I'm more Gatorade than PowerAde and a fan of Vitamin Water, but not the zero calorie Vitamin Water, which tastes like someone else drank it first, absorbed the flavor and spit it back into the bottle. I'd rather just drink water-water, which is cool, because I love water.
For at least two months I've been on the hunt for Yoo-Hoo and when I finally found it this weekend my face almost melted (though I'm saving it for a special occasion). If I ever find Strawberry Yoo-Hoo, I expect the electricity will go out in the tri-county area. I like Soy Milk, especially Chocolate Soy Milk, but not as much as I like Chocolate Almond Milk.
We are in the era of the beverage. Seems like when I was a kid, the only options were a few brands of soda and the powdered Nestle Quick that I stirred into my milk. Now I've had the revolting sensation of sucking an eyeball-sized Tapioca from a sweet murky fluid and through an extra-large straw. I've enjoyed Kombucha until I drank it one time and it made my stomach feel drunk so I never tried it again. I've also eliminated Jupina, a pineapple flavored soda, because the taste -- which is almost perfect -- still isn't worth the caloric commitment.
So I've decided this week is Blah Blah Beverage Week.
CASE STUDY 1: PEPSI NEXT
I'm a Coke girl. Always have been. Even when it meant the humiliation of failing the Pepsi Challenge at the grocery store in front of my Pepsi family. "Can I get a do-over?" I wondered in a panic. "This just isn't possible." I like good Coke, regular -- none of this diet bullshit. In college I would crack one, take that first fuzzy sip and exhale "Hm. Heaven in a can."
In comparison, Pepsi has always tasted like a Coke without soul. I'll drink a Pepsi only when it's mandatory and then I opt for the Wild Cherry flavor.
Chuck is also a Coke person, obvi, so when he recommended the flavored Pepsi Next it's something I can take seriously. Cherry Vanilla, he tells me, is pretty good.
I'd never buy it based on it's packaging. It looks like speculative fiction from the early 1970s of what packaging will look like in 2012. And frankly: Paradise Mango is a weird name for a drink, considering the other flavor is just plain old Cherry Vanilla instead of TV Marathon Cherry Vanilla.
Regardless, Paradise Mango has a nice bouquet. And its initial impact provides a mouthful of mango-flavor, which is super yum but also a little unsettling since there isn't even an orange-ish tint. The aftertaste is pretty bad. It lingers like Diet Pepsi, which is inferior to Diet Coke, which has its own problems. Ultimately the experience of drinking Paradise Mango is like finding out when of your favorite books is being made into a movie, but the movie stars Tom Hanks.
Chuck was right about Cherry Vanilla. It's another good cherry-vanilla based beverage in a world that cannot get enough cherry-vanilla drink. But we already knew Pepsi had its cherries in order, since the dawn of Wild Cherry Pepsi.
Verdict: Paradise Mango is worth trying because it's so different, but the aftertaste is meh. Cherry Vanilla Pepsi is as good as Wild Cherry Pepsi, which is the preferred beverage when the other option is Fresca.