When it comes to orange-flavored carbonated beverages, the mainstream soda manufacturers have pretty much botched things up here in the United States.
It seems you have to go outside of the U.S. to get a decent orange. For example, when I was in Costa Rica this past January, nothing could hold a candle to Fanta Naranja. Previously reviewed Polish Fanta Pomarańczowa was also very good.
Ironically, the best orange sodas here in the States seem to be owned by the 3rd place runner up of beverage production, Cadbury Schweppes. They currently produce BevReview.com favorite Orange Crush — a beverage that is hard to find these days and well past its prime.
Cadbury Schweppes also holds the bottling rights to Sunkist, another orange soda whose name is licensed from Sunkist Growers, a co-op of citrus growers in California and Arizona. This drink was first launched in 1978 and in the early 1980s was the #1 orange soda in the United States. Heck, I remember the classic commercials featuring the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations” being used to advertise the product. Ah, the good days of flavored sodas!
Interestingly, Sunkist is an beverage that contains caffeine, which is very unlikely for an orange soda. In other odd observations, if you actually look at the way the name is currently spelled in the logo, it actually reads “Sinkist”. There is no fruit juice in Sunkist and it is sweetened by high fructose corn syrup.
What’s unique is that when you open a bottle of Sunkist, it really does smell like real oranges. They’ve got that scent down, that’s for sure! As for the flavor, it’s very quenching and has little noticeable aftertaste. This is in contrast to such drinks as Fanta Orange which just taste fake.
That’s not to say that Sunkist couldn’t be improved. It’s probably the best mainstream orange soda you’d find in the U.S. — which isn’t saying much, but hey, that’s the way it is. The flavor is a good orange that doesn’t taste overtly artificial, while providing a somewhat clean finish.
If you are a looking for an orange soda that is also going to give you a little caffeine buzz, go with Sunkist. If you’d prefer caffeine free, stick with Orange Crush.