One of the more understated junk food rites of the holiday season has to be Coca-Cola’s seasonal Freestyle mixes. Since they’re not ubiquitously marketed like everything else Coke does, they always seem to sneak up on you as quaint, L-T-O surprises at the local cineplex or friendly neighborhood Burger King.
Well, if you fancied previous seasonal flavors like Secret Santa and Mistletoe Flow, you’ll probably get a yuletide kick out of the latest additions to the Coke Freestyle family – the aptly named North Pole Magic and Arctic Chill.
Aesthetically, there isn’t much to say about either beverage. They both have a pleasant, reddish brown hue, with the Arctic Chill variation looking lighter than North Pole Magic. In terms of scent, they smell practically identical – as soon as your olfactory glands whiff the drinks, the aroma is unmistakable. You’ve got orange, you’ve got vanilla and you’ve got something else that you can’t quite put your finger on for the initial sniff. But that becomes very apparent once the drinks start tangoing with your taste buds.
We’ll start with North Pole Magic (NPM) because it’s the stronger of the two (both in terms of figurative quality and literal flavor). The beverage tastes pretty much the same way it smells. I’ve read some Internet posts that say NPM is one part vanilla, one part cherry, and one part root beer, but I beg to differ. To these tastebuds, anyway, NPM is one part Coca-Cola, one part orange creme and one part vanilla – in short, sherbet-flavored Coke.
In all my years I’ve never once imagined what a Yabba Dabba Do Orange Flinstones Push Up-flavored Coca-Cola variation would taste like, but I’ll be tickled pink if NPM isn’t one of the most delicious Coke permutations I’ve tasted in quite some time. This stuff is too yummy to be relegated to those bright red touchscreen terminals – Coke definitely needs to put this in bottle and can form come next Christmas.
Arctic Chill (AC) – which is fighting under the less calorie-dense Coca-Cola Zero umbrella – is pretty much the same thing as NPM, except…well, not as flavorful.
I hate to use the term “watered down,” but that’s precisely what AC tastes like compared to NPM. It’s still pretty good, but the Coke Zero taste completely overwhelms the sherbet flavor. In fact, you only get the sherbet flavor as a ghostly aftertaste – almost as if you were drinking a Coke Zero in a cup somebody momentarily used as a holster for a creamsicle for about five seconds. Again, it’s not a bad soda by any stretch, it’s just that compared to NPM it feels like a mild imitation.
Regardless, you really can’t go wrong with either flavor. And Coke definitely needs to be commended for thinking outside the box for these holiday mixes – thank goodness they eschewed the all too predictable gingerbread and candy cane flavors in favor of one that’s great, no matter the time of year.
(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)
Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 20 oz. cup
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10 (North Pole Magic)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Arctic Chill)
Pros: A robust, creamsicle flavor. You’ve got options if you’re trying to count calories. The theoretical ability to combine each flavor with Diet Dr. Pepper and peach Sprite, because Y.O.L.O.
Cons: Arctic Chill tastes pretty watered down compared to North Pole Magic. Only being able to drink the sodas at the movies or while you’re shopping at the grocery store. Wondering how much it would cost to bribe the store to look the other way while you fill up a water cooler jug.