The holidays are upon us, with the classic trifecta of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolling together. Some say it’s too commercial, but what other time of the year can you watch the three corresponding Peanuts holiday specials on TV? I rest my case. (In case you were scratching your head on that comment, I was referring to It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas — so now you know!)
The time is here once again to talk about the famed Jones Soda Holiday collection. For 2006, it’s not just one collection, however. Jones has released 13 different holiday flavors through two box sets and three 4-packs. Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be taking a look at each and every one of them via our beverage reviews.
As seasoned readers will recall, we’ve given these beverages quite a bit of coverage here on BevReview.com. But for you newer readers out there, here’s a recap of the world of Jones Soda as we see it via our reviews:
- Turkey & Gravy 2003
- Holiday Pack 2004 Overview
- Holiday Pack 2005 Overview
- National Holiday Pack 2005
- Regional Holiday Pack 2005
- Love Potion #6 2006
- Blue Bubble Gum
- Halloween 2006 Overview
Just as Jones did last year by creating two different holiday gift packs (National and Regional in 2005), they’ve created two unique packages this year: Holiday Pack and Dessert Pack. Both are available in specified locations and have charities tied to their sales.
Starting off with the flagship, the Holiday Pack. While Jones launched their notable Turkey & Gravy Soda back in 2003 as a stand-alone drink, starting in 2004 they bundled this flavor with 4 other bottles and sold them together. This year they continue that tradition by putting Turkey & Gravy front and center, surrounding it with some new tastes for you to gag on. Jones Soda’s CEO, Peter van Stolk, noted that “the Jones Holiday Pack takes the stress out of the holidays. No mess, fuss, or worries, from box to the dinner table, the Jones Holiday Pack is today’s answer for the busy lifestyle we live.” Do you get the feeling that they really got a kick out of writing that? Here are some photos of the bottles, via the classic “Tanner Beverage Tree” technique…
This year’s Holiday Pack includes Sweet Potato Soda, Dinner Roll Soda, Pea Soda, and my anticipated favorite, Antacid Flavored Soda. The latter actually has a disclaimer on the package that mentions “this product is non-medicinal.” Nice. Maybe they felt they had to do that since they provided a plastic medicinal serving cup in the packaging! Jones claims on their website that “all sodas are completely vegetarian, certified kosher, and contain zero caffeine, calories, and carbs.”
Sales of the Holiday Pack benefit Toys for Tots, with a minimum $25,000 donation heading to the charity. Curiously, the official press release regarding the Toys for Tots sponsorship specifically notes “JONES SODA LAUNCHES GREEN PEA SODA TO BENEFIT TOYS FOR TOTS”. I’m not sure why they highlighted Green Pea Soda over the others. Interesting. (In 2005, the Regional Holiday Pack also gave proceeds to Toys for Tots).
Availability of the Holiday Pack is not limited to one store (as it was via last year’s selected vendor, Target). The official Jones Soda website lists such places as Cost Plus World Market and larger grocery stores as being the place to find it. Here in Illinois, I actually found mine at Target. Go figure.
The second packaged box of sodas is called the Dessert Pack, following in the grand tradition of 2004′s Fruitcake Soda, 2005′s Pumpkin Pie Soda, and Pecan Pie Soda. This time around, all 5 sodas in the box are dessert-oriented. They include Cherry Pie, Banana Cream Pie, Key Lime Pie, Apple Pie, and Blueberry Pie.
While the styling of the Holiday Pack packaging was a somewhat cheesy, 1970s ad for food, the Dessert Pack takes a classic approach, emulating an old fashioned stove, complete with chrome handles, magnets with clips, old recipe cards, and a stovetop complete with burners and knobs. The font choices seem to be straight out of the movie Cars. Retro is cool these days.
Now, the Dessert Pack is a Target-exclusive product. This item is designed to be a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with the goal to bring in at least $50,000 for “the world’s premier center for the research and treatment of childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases.”
You may recall that last year’s National Holiday Pack also supported St. Jude. If you look at the financial pledges, St. Jude is getting the better end of the deal when compared to Toys for Tots, $25,000 vs. $50,000. I’m not sure why that is, but my gut has to do with distribution and availability. I’d think that given the Target distribution, perhaps the Dessert Pack will be seen more than the standard Holiday Pack. I could be wrong, of course.
I have not tried any of these beverages yet, thus I’m quite intrigued by these comments from the official press release for the Dessert Pack: “This season’s newest edition to the Jones Soda holiday flavor family may be more palatable than you might think. The Jones Soda Dessert Pack includes five great tasting soda flavors… Unlike the traditional Jones Holiday Pack, these are really great tasting sodas that have a true fresh baked pie flavor.” Could this mean that these beverages are actually good? They aren’t designed to be gag-inducing? Taking a quick look at the ingredients, I’m inclined to believe that we may be in for a surprise here. We’ll be sure to find out!
OK, with the 5 flavors from the Holiday Pack and the 5 flavors from the Dessert Pack, we have 10 total. “But I thought you said there were 13?” That’s right!
Along with the 2 bundled packages of soda bottles, Jones Soda has released 3 more traditional Christmas flavors in 4-packs. This follows a process they started for this year’s Halloween collection. In that case, they released 4 specialty flavors — Berried Alive Soda, Spider Cider Soda, Gruesome Grape Soda, and Candy Corn Soda — in canned 4-packs. These were your expected “well, that’s a weird flavor” Jones Sodas. However, they also released 3 more acceptable flavors in bottled 4-packs. Surprisingly, the Halloween bottled flavors were actually pretty good (Lemon Drop Dead Soda, Creepy Cranberry Soda, and Monster Mojito Soda).
I’m guessing the 3 bottled 4-packs released as part of this holiday rollout will probably also be non-gross. These new bottled editions to the lineup are Candy Cane Soda, Egg Nog Soda, and Sugar Plum Soda. The Dessert Pack shares a similar ingredient makeup as these 3 bottled flavors — which is also shared by the Halloween bottled releases — if that means anything.
And with that, we have 13. Unlike traditional beverage reviews we do on this site, we change the rules up a little for the Holiday Jones Soda experience. Amy and I entertain quite a bit in the month of December and will be sharing these flavors with our friends (who will probably disown us accordingly). I feel it’s best to get a group consensus on these unique tastes… plus, it makes for some great photography of disgusted faces!
Keep it tuned right here for all your Jones Soda Holiday beverage goodness!