Monday, July 31, 2017

Kotas Reviews Crystal Pepsi

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, especially when hawking cola flavored sugar water to the masses. How else can you explain the meteoric fall of New Coke, and the subsequent strangely still meteoric even though they actually fall out of the sky rise of Coca Cola Classic a few months later? Ever notice that with a lot of pop culturally significant brands it comes down to "entrenched incumbent vs underdog newcomer?" Coke vs. Pepsi, Nintendo vs. Sega, Wal-Mart vs....well, everyone, the story is told and retold over and over again. Still, out of these eternal struggles come weird and strange iterations. With that, let's take a look at the legendary Crystal Pepsi.

Crystal Pepsi is LEGENDARY in pop culture as one of the most 90s things to ever exist, and for good reason. I mean, look at its introductory ad from the 1993 Super Bowl. LOOK AT IT:

Set to Van Halen's "Right Now", Crystal Pepsi splashed onto the scene to good initial sales as a part of the "clear is pure" trend started by Ivory Soap of all things. Sales quickly faded as people realized that maybe this wasn't as revolutionary as it appeared, and just like that, it was gone months after its launch. Still, the idea was kept alive by aficionados of the drink, who traded old bottles and cans on Ebay for ever increasing sums. That is where it would have remained, but then the nostalgia wave began to overtake pop culture, and Coca-Cola got into the act by re-releasing Surge, another 90s soda, to mild acclaim, and Pepsi followed suit with a limited re-release of Crystal Pepsi last year. I guess the gas station I purchased this at had some leftover, because this one was bought like, last week. Let's check it out!

Well, it's certainly clear, that's for damn sure. It's got a nice effervescence with a solid citrus-ish note that pleases my "non-cola soda" expectations. This version isn't exactly like the original though, since it has caffeine unlike the one from the 1990s. Eh, down the fuckin' hatch, right? RIGHT! This tastes pretty good, actually, the citrus is sweet, but not super lemon-lime like Sprite or 7up. It's got a bit of tang to it, not unlike the Zima re release and is quite nice going down. I don't think I'd pick this over cola flavored soda, but it's a nice bit of "something different" when out and about. Good job, PepsiCo!

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Smiley Face. This is a re release done pretty well, even if it is just a cheap marketing ploy. I say that you should give it a try for it's so called "final release" coming up soon (mid-August I believe), but don't feel too bad if you miss it. I'm a fan, but not an obsessive fan. You won't find me scouring Ebay for this stuff, that's for sure.   

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kotas Reviews Zima

Sweet lord the Nostalgia train is a rolling hard lately in Soda Country. Coca-Cola brought back my beloved Surge (albeit only in gas stations), while Pepsi, wanting to outdo even that effort brings us Crystal Pepsi (also in gas stations...and on my list as soon as I can find it). So I guess MillerCoors wanted to get in on that sweet, sweet action and that brings us to our subject today. Ladies, Gentlemen, Kids get the fuck out of here, let's take a peak at Zima!

You magnificent BASTARD!
Yes, before that delicious plague of the beer aisle at grocery stores known as the "clear malternative beverage" assailed us in the early 2000s, with such "masterpieces" as Bacardi Silver and Smirnoff Ice, there was the granddaddy of them all, Zima. Marketed with the slogan "Zomething different" this clear boozy soda-ish "not-beer" was marketed as hip, cool, suave, and interesting. You know, like a hipster before that was a thing. You probably wouldn't know about it. Anyway, it quickly got a reputation as a "girl booze", mostly because it tasted pretty sweet and lo and behold, women drank more of it than other beers of the day. Still, for such a maligned product, it persisted until 2008, when MillerCoors discontinued it. So, why is it back, in the original bottle styling no less? I'm gonna go with "nostalgia is a powerful drug son" and move on to the resurrected product itself.

I was too young to partake of Zima when it was first released waaaaaay back in 1993, but I remember the commercials featured a guy in a white suit talking with another dude and...honestly it just being kind of strange. Definitely different, and the guy kept replacing his "s" characters with "z" ones. By the time I was old enough to consume them (and yes, they were still around at that point) I didn't bother since it had was already as uncool as bell bottoms and brightly colored leggings. Since I'm older and yes, touched by the nostalgia bug, I saw this in the store and thought "Yes, I simply MUST have this". So here we are. Let's crack it open!

Well, it's definitely clear. It looks, and smells, like boozed up Sprite. It tastes a lot like it too, with a nice citrus-y sour note so it's not super sweet, but interesting. I will say this, it certainly tasted better than I expected it to, and I happily drank a six pack's worth (with a bit of help). To be fair, I loved Bacardi Silver back in the day and this reminds me of a tangier version of that (original flavor, not the weird faux fruit versions that exist today). Who knew, right?

On the FACE Rating System, this gets TWO nostalgic Smiley Faces. While it definitely doesn't rank up there as a go to malt beverage, it's a nice change of pace when I'm feeling more in the mood for a soda, but don't want to have liquor with a mixer. Go out and get hammered 90s style, you probably won't regret it! Probably.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Kotas Reviews Mountain Dew-S-A

July 4th, long past us at this point, has always been a somewhat controversial holiday. On one hand, it celebrates the signing of the one of the biggest "And go fuck yourself" letters ever written, and on the other, it celebrates that by encouraging pyrotechnical displays not much safer than playing out in Uncle Bill's Machete Shack and Rusty Nail Emporium. Still, as Apu Knockoff #47 would say "Celebrate your country's independence by blowing up a small part of it!" Lucky for us, we're past that an onto the stupid stunt foods! Ladies and Gentlemen, let's look at Mountain Dew-S-A.

Well, A for effort, if not grammar.
You know, I don't know that the world needed a patriotic soda, but by Uncle Sam, Mountain Dew is gonna give it to ya! Look at all that majesty, what with the fake 3D effect stars, and random assortments of red, white, and blue space. I also find it amusing that Dew is repeated twice on the label, which makes for a striking, if stupid, logo. So, this is actually a combination soda, containing three different flavors of Mountain Dew: Code Red, White Out, and Voltage (Red, White, and Blue sodas respectively). All three are mixed together to create...this hybrid soda. I have to give them credit, it's certainly an interesting take on patriotism and soda. Let's see how it looks in the glass!

Light Purple is clearly the color of Freedom. 
Well, that was...expected. As any primary school teacher will tell you, mixing Red, White, and Blue together gets you a lovely shade of purple, and this soda does not disappoint in holding up the color wheel's prediction. I guess this is why it comes in cans, eh? But who cares how it looks, it's how it tastes that matters, right? Right! Let's drink up!

As to how it tastes, I will quote a friend of mine who dared try it with me: "It tastes like someone melted a Bomb Pop down and drank the liquid". That pretty much sums up the flavor. It has distinct elements of all three component sodas, with Code Red being the most prominent, but the other parts combine to make an interesting and decent tasting whole. I rather liked it, but it's not something I would want over another soda. It is definitely something I would want every now and again to change up my soda experiences. Thumbs up, Mountain Dew, this is pretty good!

On the FACE Rating System, I give it 1 Smiley Face. The theme is sort of all over the place, and the color is fabulous, but this "formerly only the province of soda fountain experimentation" tastes pretty decent. If you are in a mood to celebrate 'Murica, give a whirl. I certainly like it better than actual Mountain Dew. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Kotas Reviews Pepsi Fire

Well, the Summer is upon us and that means stifling heat and suffocating humidity! Isn't that great? Well, I don't know about you, but when it's hot outside, I often reach for a cool refreshing beverage to help chill my inner self, and hopefully distract me from the fact that parts of me are dying at this very moment! Hooray! And what better way to start off a bunch of beverage reviews than by one that is as refreshing as it is weird. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a peek at Pepsi Fire.

Pepsi used to be the hip, cool upstart to take on the soda behemoth known as Coca-Cola. In the 80s it was the choice of the Pepsi Generation, the winner of the Pepsi Challenge, and maker of one of the best promotional items ever. Still, it never quite managed to overcome its stalwart foe, and started introducing gimmicks to fire off in the vicious Soda Wars. From clear soda, to adding lemon to Cherry Vanilla flavoring, Pepsi was always the leader of soda gimmicks, with Coca-Cola not far behind...except maybe this time. I honestly never would have considered adding a cinnamon flavor to a cola of all things, but, seriously, how bad could it be?

Well, it LOOKS like a regular old soda, perhaps with a tinge of red. The packaging is about what I would expect from Pepsi, with the logo covered in a stylized flame and red being the prominent color of the label. The word "FIRE" is bold and eclipses the size of the word "Pepsi", which is a bold choice. The effervescence upon opening the cap is...well, it's intense. It sort of tickles, no...stings the nose with promises of something that burns. It is mildly unpleasant, but it doesn't linger too long. 

Drinking this is sort of like drinking a ginger beer, but with a lot less ginger and a lot more cinnamon flavor. The "burn" is about the same as a mild ginger beer. A little harsh, but not terrible. The cinnamon flavor doesn't go with the cola flavor AT ALL though, and just makes the whole thing taste sort of weird. Not very refreshing either, because the cinnamon clings to your tongue more than is comfortable. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. I finished the bottle, and it was sort of different, but not something I would really ever seek out again. It kind of reminds me of a low rent Fireball Whiskey cash in, to be honest. Maybe someone out there will love this, but I did not. Still, worth a try if you like novelty sodas.