I should start off by explaining/apologizing for how, when I recently finished a thriller whose twist ending blew my mind, I was quickly informed by online reviews that I was the only person in the world who hadn’t seen it coming by the third page. Please bear that in mind when I tell you that I had no idea what to make of my first sip of Fanta’s What The Fanta Mystery Flavor. It smelled like Marshmallow Fruity Pebbles, looked like dishwasher detergent, and tasted like a sudden inability to remember a single other flavor to which I could compare it.
After a few addled attempts, I realized that it reminded me of Fresca, the zero-calorie drink known to me throughout my childhood as equally for its sparklingly synthetic taste as for its inexplicable presence at every gathering my dad’s side of the family ever held. Fresca was grapefruit-flavored, but I don’t think the same can be said of this blue beauty. I don’t drink much sugar-free soda, so that was just one of my few frames of reference for the bright, biting, and ever-so-uncannily artificial flavor that overwhelmed any other tastes I might detect here.
Still, “fruit of some sort” seemed like a promising start, and I kicked into detective mode to find more leads.
My first clue was a message on the bottle that read, appropriately, “Find Clues: #WhatTheFanta.” Attempting to follow those directions immediately led to me drowning in a sea of disgruntled Twitter users comparing this soda’s taste, with varying degrees of tact, to a rear end. (Fortunately, another recurring guess was the way more helpful — not to mention plausible — “orange creamsicle”).
Eventually, I made my way to Fanta.com, an oasis of information where, for the price of my email address and birthday, I was granted access to a secret world by way of QR code.
The QR code transports you to a mysterious website where you’re greeted by an array of images: first, there is just an innocuous blue Fanta bottle, which quickly reconfigures itself into an ice cream truck, a weird bluish blob that I initially parsed as an octopus but eventually realized was probably meant to be a stylized scoop of ice cream, an ice cream cone (okay, I thought I got it!!!), an ear of corn (never mind, I was confused again!!!), a carrot, a traffic cone, and finally some sort of reddish donkey-thing.
The three pieces of ice cream imagery and the two iconically orange items lend a lot of credence to the orange creamsicle theory, but I must admit I still have no idea how the corn or donkey play into it. I guess if the cerulean color for an ostensibly orange flavor is any indication, Fanta isn’t above throwing in a few red (or blue) herrings (or donkeys).
So, that’s the mystery of the flavor resolved (probably). What about the resolution of this review? Unfortunately, the tinny tang that comes along with the “zero sugar” label meant that I regrettably found the QR code caper more compelling than the actual beverage that inspired it. Drink this if you’re thirsty for a good case to crack, but perhaps not if you’re thirsty for a good soda.
Update: We also tried the Burger King Frozen What The Fanta! Click here to read our review.
Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: 20 oz
Purchased at: Wawa
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 65 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.