REVIEW: Sprite Lymonade

Sprite Lymonade

Sprite Lymonade is the classic lemon and lime-flavored Sprite mixed with some lemonade. Okay, not exactly lemonade because the beverage itself isn’t an ingredient. It gets its elevated citrus flavor from, according to the bottle, clarified lemon juice from concentrate. I imagine Sprite Clarified Lemon Juice From Concentrate would’ve been a horrible product name.

It has ONE PERCENT real juice. And, somewhere, Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel is laughing because it’s made with five percent juice, which is still not a lot, but much more than this.

It tastes like a cloudy Sprite that’s ever so slightly more lemony than the original. It’s definitely not carbonated lemonade, and it’s definitely not just Sprite. If you like the classic lemon-lime soda, I imagine you’ll also enjoy this because it isn’t a dramatic change from the original.

The “lemonade” portion tastes the part, adding a little more lemon flavor and sourness, but thankfully it isn’t as sour as a test batch made by aspiring young first-time lemonade stand proprietors.

Like with all Sprite varieties, it has no caffeine. Seriously, Coca-Cola, if you want to sell a little more of your popular drink, make one with caffeine. People love Sprite. People love caffeine. Do the math. I know you’ve probably done it in the lab, and the caffeine messes with the crisp, clean lemon-lime flavor, but I’d buy more if it had some. No pressure, Coca-Cola.

Sprite Lymonade is crisp, refreshing, citrusy, and any other adjective used to describe a good lemon-lime soda, but to be frank, it’s an unexciting variation. We have cherry, cranberry, and whatever Sprite flavors are available at Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers, so pardon me if I feel this is a little boring, I mean, in Sprite spelling, boryng.

Purchased Price: Way too much from someone on eBay
Size: 20 fl. oz. bottle
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 220 calories, 0 grams of fat, 110 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 57 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry

McDonald s Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry

Like many surly teenagers in the 90s with nothing better to do than loiter, I hung out way too many hours for my own good at the Target up the block from my house. The electronics department was a social hub for most of the boys in the neighborhood due to the fact that they had every current gaming system out in the open and set on free play. None of that demo nonsense that Sears did.

This was all well and good until the one of the managers would let us know in no uncertain terms that we had to buy something or leave. Squeezing every last minute of gameplay we could, those of us with a few spare quarters would pool together about 75 cents to buy a bottle of this new beverage that was seemingly only available at Target: Clearly Canadian.

With its sticky sweet, syrupy “clear” taste that mingled deliriously with a decidedly crisp berry sensation, we passed the bottle around like grade school hoboes warming themselves around an 8-bit barrel fire. Looking back, it was a flavor out of and ahead of it time, especially during the crystal cola wars of the 1990-somethings. Sure, after pounding three or four at a time, it gave us the worst headaches and a little bit of nausea on the way home to dinner, but for that price to stay and play, who gave a good gosh-darn.

It’s been a flavor sensation that I have been nostalgically chasing for almost 20 years and, while I always knew it would be those flavor wizards at Sprite that would probably be the ones to resuscitate that drinkable emotion, I had no idea it would be found on accident while I was looking for the Hi-C Orange Lava Burst cold filtered water button on a McDonald’s drink fountain.

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Going by the fake corporate DJ nom de plume of Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry, this is most definitely the second coming of that Mountain Berry or Western Loganberry Clearly Canadian if there ever was one, right down to the high-fructose headache after excitedly slurping two large-sized cups of the carbonated beverage when, as an adult, you should really know better.

The typical lemon-lime zest of Sprite that we’ve come to expect is pushed down the taste scale pretty low to point of being barely noticeable as the artificially-flavored tropical (which tropic though?) berry (which berry though?) dominates proudly. It also comes complete with a tongue-coating aftertaste that will definitely call for at least a full cup of PowerAde Mountain Berry Blast cold filtered water to swig around as you leave the restaurant. Or Wal-Mart, if you’re in nasty and/or in Oklahoma.

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Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry is definitely worth tracking down and most definitely worth the taste, if only for curiosity’s sake. While it is far too sickly sucrosed-up to be an everyday thing, it’ll make for a delightful once a week treat as you nosh on a Big Mac and fries. Just keep that bottle of aspirin on the ready. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – (small only) – 100 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: Large
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great berry taste. Surprisingly crisp. Extremely refreshing.
Cons: Can be too much of a sweet thing. Bad aftertaste.

REVIEW: Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero

Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero

AP English nerds rejoice! The world has redeveloped an interest in classic dystopian novels, the likes of which “Cliff Notes” developed an entire business off the laziness of the rest of us.

At the top of the list stands “1984”, the seminal Orwell work about the sacrifices of personal privacy in modern society and how individuality can be suppressed through fear.

This resurgence is just in time for a new development. When the Coke Freestyle soda fountain, seemingly a paragon of choice, was released eight years ago, numerous pundits referenced “1984” in regards to one feature: that each Freestyle machine collects data on the beverages we have dispensed for “Big Bubbler” at the “Ministry” in Atlanta. For the first time, that data has been put into play, as the two most popular choices have been bottled and rolled out nationwide.

Moving past the debate about privacy invasions that are just as commonplace at the grocery store and Amazon.com these days, cherry soft drinks have been popular since the 1930’s, and it’s no surprise Cherry Sprite is the top Freestyle option for most anyone – other than the namesake of one version of the concoction. Apparently identity appropriation doesn’t get you a seat on the “Good Ship Lollipop”.

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The press release states: “Formulations for the fountain and bottled versions of Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero vary”. Let’s hope this isn’t like heading to a Chevrolet dealership to find out the SS Sedan doesn’t look like this.

Sprite Cherry and Cherry Zero are clear, identical to original Sprite, but unlike the red-tinted versions that come from the Freestyle. The initial scent of Sprite Cherry was a strong cherry, with the citrus notes fading in at the end. Sprint Cherry Zero was less distinct, fruity and fresh but not as discernible.

Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero 3

Sprite Cherry was a wonderful experience. It was crisp and really suggested a balance of cherry with a lemon/lime combo and equal in sweetness to original Sprite. It was one of the best new bottled sodas I have tried in recent years.

Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero 4

Sprite Cherry Zero was adequate, but in comparison to Sprite Cherry, was a relative disappointment. No individual flavor stood out. This was a particular letdown as cherry flavors have proven very effective in no-cal soft drinks. Cherry Coke Zero, Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry, and Diet Mountain Dew Code Red stand as some of my all-time favorites.

The primary reason is that the strong cherry flavor seems to make up for the artificial sweeter, resulting in a less diet-feeling experience. Coke may have tried to achieve the balance of cherry with the other flavors in the full sugar version, but it was the wrong call in the diet version.

My hopes for a new go-to diet drink were dashed as abruptly as Winston’s fleeting happiness before the novel’s climax. Sprite Cherry might end up with more staying power, as an enjoyable but not radically different option (Ministry of Plenty approved!)

As for me, I’ll go back to dreaming about my soft drink “dark haired girl” – when Coke decides to add Mango, Watermelon, Pomegranate, and Chocolate options to the Freestyle – or my “Golden Country” – a Pepsi Spire machine near my home.

(Nutrition Facts – 20 fl ounces – Sprite Cherry – 200 calories, 0 grams of fat, 110 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 54 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein. Sprite Cherry Zero – 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of sodium, less than 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 2 for $3.50
Size: 20 oz. bottles
Purchased at: Wawa
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sprite Cherry)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Sprite Cherry Zero)
Pros: Freestyle feedback leading the R&D process. Balanced Cherry hit of Sprite Cherry. Brave New World. Fahrenheit 451. It Can’t Happen Here.
Cons: Not enough cherry “umph” in Sprite Cherry Zero. Uber-safe options coming from the Freestyle (no Grape Mello Yello?). The Pepsi Spire locator map that indicates a Subway next door to where I work in Delaware that is actually in Saskatchewan.

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.

REVIEW: Sprite Blast

Sprite Blast

There’s a Mitch Hedberg joke from the early 2000s.

“They say the recipe for Sprite is lemon and lime. But I tried to make it at home—there’s more to it than that. ‘Want some more homemade Sprite?’ Not ‘til you figure out what the f*** else is in it!”

It’s true. Homemade Sprite sounded impossible in 2003, when that joke was recorded for Hedberg’s second stand up album. Fast forward about a decade and homemade soda machines are in all the hippest kitchens, yet if someone yelled from the other room “Hey, man, what do I put into this thing to make Sprite?” my answer would probably end up being “Let’s just go buy some Sprite,” followed up with a 20-minute conversation about the time Rufio from Hook rapped in a Sprite commercial. Bangarang.

Sprite does feature that lemon-lime logo and, if I’m remembering correctly, advertisements in the 90’s with wet, airborne lemons and limes. But for a drink so closely associated with citrus, it lacks any sour bite whatsoever. Enter Sprite Blast. This is an iteration of the drink that tastes like it was possibly made with actual sour ass fruit, or at least the sugar they sprinkle on sour worms.

The fizz is typical of Sprite, seemingly softer than actual Coke, and sets the table for a mouth puckering that never comes. Sprite Blast has a slight sour jab that stimulates the roof of the mouth and tingles the top of the throat and never overwhelms, or whelms even. The American palate is not acclimated to sour tastes, sure. The only sour-tasting foods I can name have “sour” already in the name: Sour cream, sour pickles, sweet and sour sauce, sour grapes.

The one I most engage with is sour grapes, and that’s not even a food. I’m a master rationalizer, and didn’t really want to be a stupid astronaut anyway. It just seems like a lot of work. But Sprite Blast’s flavor is a bit anemic, even for sour neophytes. And it doesn’t necessarily play with the sugar in the drink that well either. The flavor doesn’t lilt at the end in concert with the sweetness, like a Sour Patch Kid. It just sorta lays there in your mouth like a stoned roommate. The drink is buffed of any extremes, like a mass-produced, focus-grouped product and mostly serves as a reminder of how freaking sweet regular Sprite is.

Sprite Blast 2

Sprite Blast comes in tiny 7.5-ounce cans for some reason, and I can’t figure out why. Maybe it costs that much more to produce the drink, or Coca-Cola wanted to visually differentiate it from other sodas on the shelf, but I keep searching for the “real” reason, like the can makes a particularly good bong or it can be easily fashioned into fireworks. Maybe 7.5 ounces of liquid is the perfect amount for some sort of alcoholic mixed drink, or codeine-cocktail krokodil. Maybe it fits easily into a regulation muffler, or into a body cavity.

Whatever the reason, the amount is about three-fourths a regulation soda but goes down like a shot. It’s so tempting to go “Woo!” right after and then huck the can across the room, like I just pledged some sort of dumb lemon-lime frat. Guys, tomorrow night we kidnap Sierra Mist’s mascot, which is actually a lonely guy wandering around Albertsons buying discount snacks for an ill-attended poker night.

The other thing about Sprite Blast is that it’s a 7-Eleven exclusive. Know this: Nobody is going to 7-Eleven just for Sprite Blast, which makes me think it’s there to pair well with something else. To be honest, I do think it would complement some 7-Eleven delicacies. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Pork rinds. Those gross-looking Doritos nuggets. Machine-rolled taquitos. Day-old hot dog. Lowrider magazine. A tin of Skoal Snus Mint. Sprite Blast would not go well with the Sausage McMuffin knockoff, Simpsons pink sprinkles donut or prophylactics.

Sprite Blast costs a buck at most 7-Elevens and is a low investment for a pretty low payoff. So no need for a homemade version, just spring for the real thing. And for those who still want to recreate it in the house, I think after reading the label, the secret ingredient is sodium benzoate.

(Nutrition Facts – 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, 115 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar,and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Sprite Blast
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 7.5 ounce can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Actual sour flavors from Sprite. Could pair well with other 7-Eleven items, flavorwise.
Cons: Unremarkable. Comes in a teeny tiny can.