REVIEW: Sprite Tropical Mix (2016)

Sprite Tropical Mix (2016)

Don’t call it a comeback.

Or, more correctly: depending on where you live in the United States, don’t call it a comeback. See, this strawberry and pineapple-infused variant of the stalwart caffeine free lemon-lime soda has a convoluted history and its journey deserves some context.

In 2003, Sprite launched the Remix brand extension, a limited edition gimmick that would see a new flavor unveiled every year. Remix only lasted until 2005, so only three flavors emerged: the initial Remix flavor which we now know as Tropical; Berryclear, a mixed berry flavor; and Aruba Jam, an undetermined taste the label simply referred to as “fruit flavor.”

Nowadays, many of the elder statesmen of junk food have to swap out flavors just to stay competitive (*cough* Oreo *cough*) but back in the halcyon days of the early ’00s, Sprite’s Remix scheme earned a full-blown write-up in the country’s newspaper of record.

Unfortunately, despite the notoriety and success, Sprite dirt-napped the Remix concept before you could say “Jamaican me crazy.” The brand didn’t return to variant flavors until 2013’s holiday-themed Sprite Cranberry (a full seven years after competitor Sierra Mist introduced their Cranberry Splash) and 2014’s LeBron James-inspired Sprite 6 Mix, which presumably tastes like sweat and endorsement deals.

And then, last year, Sprite tested the carbonated waters with a limited re-release of Sprite Tropical Mix, no doubt stirred by the nostalgia-driven revival of Surge. It popped up in many states in the South and on the East Coast and, while elusive in 2015, this limited edition 2016 return is coast-to-coast, just in time for spring. And Sprite Tropical Mix is a heckuva springtime drink.

Sprite Tropical Mix (2016) 2

Crisp, light and free of the syrupy thickness of Robitussin-like competitors, Sprite Tropical Mix doesn’t suffer from cloying, burdensome flavor. Instead, it’s got a delightful, delicate aftertaste of strawberry and pineapple, and visually, it’s no different than your normal Sprite: crystal clear and buzzing with carbonation.

Sprite Tropical Mix has more in common with La Croix than, say, a mainstream soda variant like Mountain Dew Code Red or even a Fanta. It’s a perfect sipping soda for a hot day, a welcome approach as the market seems dominated by caffeine-engorged heart palpitation potions intended only to kickstart your testosterone-secreting punch engine. It’s a better bedside beverage than bottled breakfast booster for sure. So look for it because of the flavor rather than as the most expedient and cheapest caffeine delivery system.

The packaging assures us Sprite Tropical Mix is “for a limited time,” but I have a feeling that, much like the McRib, reports of its demise will be greatly exaggerated. It would make a welcome annual tradition amid these sweltering springs and scorching summers. Maybe down the line Sprite will offer a larger quantity than the 20-ounce bottles you’re likelier to track down at a convenience store than a supermarket.

Until then, however, track down some Sprite Tropical Mix and, like a vacation with a loved one, relish your time together.

(Nutrition Facts – 20 fl oz – 240 calories, 0 grams of fat, 115 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 64 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 20 fl oz
Purchased at: Circle K
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Crisp, light, refreshing. Caffeine free. Delicate flavors. La Croix. Does not taste like sweat and endorsement deals.
Cons: Limited edition. Uncertain future. Not available in larger quantities, e.g. oil barrel size.

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Writer Ryan

Salutations, readers! I come to you not just with salutations (which is easily the weirdest way to say hello), but with an introduction and a promise.

My name is Ryan and I am but one of the latest crash test dummies to climb aboard this speeding junk food juggernaut called The Impulsive Buy. As a denizen of Middle America, junk food is in my blood, and I mean more than just arteriosclerosis.

The flag of my great home state of Oklahoma proudly bears our state bird, the chicken fried steak, and we have an official state song from America’s favorite agriculture-themed musical, “Oklahoma!” At least that was the case until 2007, when our legislature changed the song to the audio from one of those YouTube supercuts of people falling out of motorized scooters. Last year, Oklahoma was second in the nation in number of fast food restaurants. Our 1,580 restaurants weren’t enough to pass the sprawling, value menu-festooned hills of Kentucky.

But it isn’t just that I grew up in the shadows of never-ending hamburger signage or that I was regularly shouted down by elementary school classmates for waxing at length about anthropomorphic cereal mascots. I was a latchkey kid of the late ’80s and early ’90s, the golden era of Happy Meal toys and merchandised junk food. Well into adulthood, even after all these years, I prefer my canned pasta X-Men-shaped, my berries Franken, my mummies tutti-frutti, and my Hostess pies mutagen-filled. I like my Shark Bites white, my Lunchables pizza, my ice cream gumball-eyed, devil’s food Snackwell’s, and Kool-Aid Sharkleberry Fin. Corporate marketing helped me understand my first natural talent — eating my feelings.

And thus, my promise to you, dear reader: when not on the campaign trail fighting for a pizza-based economy, I will write you the kind of honest, insightful, and profound reviews you’ve come to expect from an outlet like The Impulsive Buy.

I will write without cynicism.

And I will write with the zest of life only those prepared to embark on the journey of 1,000 empty calories truly know. And I will write with the passion and optimism of a man who holds out hope they will one day soon sell Cadbury Creme Egg filling by the half gallon.