I was shocked when the 2007 Jones Soda Holiday collection was announced back in November. Gone was the old “favorite” of Turkey & Gravy Soda, replaced with a 4-bottle Christmas Pack, 3 varieties of holiday-themed 4-Packs, and a unique 4-bottle Chanukah Pack. Chanukah, Hanukkah, Channukah, Hannukkah, or however you spell it, is a new territory for Jones, thus it was with great interest that we sampled Jones Soda Latke Soda.
Not being Jewish, I actually had to look up what a latke actually was. Apparently, it’s simply a potato pancake, made with egg and potato, typically fried and seasoned with onion. Folks like to add toppings to latkes, including sour cream, cheese, and apple sauce. According to Wikipedia, latkes aren’t necessarily a vital part of Chanukah, though they are typically associated with the celebration of oil in the Temple burning for 8 days. (You know, fried food and oil… get it?)
Latke Soda has the appearance of a dark apple juice. Brownish-yellow in color. Not exactly super attractive in that sense. It probably didn’t help that there was a photo on the bottle of some guy making potato pancakes in a kitchen. Apparently, this photo was taken by none other than Latke Larry of Bellevue, WA (Photo #9111). Seriously, I chuckle at the fact that Jones actually printed this guy’s name as “Latke Larry”! The label itself sports a purple/pink gradient color scheme, with the Jones logo noted in silver, and the flavor name colored in off white/light yellow. This packaging look is consistent for all flavors of the Chanukah Pack.
When you open the bottle, the scent… well, it’s not that good. It reminded me of the more obscure holiday flavors we’ve had over the years from Jones… Dinner Roll Soda, Broccoli Casserole Soda, Brussels Sprout Soda. All of those drinks had one thing in common: a high salt content. And sure enough, Jones Soda Latke Soda contains 240mg of sodium! I really couldn’t place what the scent actually was. It definitely didn’t smell like potatoes!
The taste? Bitter and gross! The saltiness hits your tongue fast and hard, followed by a gag-inducing aftertaste. I’m not sure if this is what latkes are supposed to taste like (highly doubtful), but this drink doesn’t really make for a good Chanukah celebration commercial. Interestingly, there really isn’t much actual flavor. It starts out blah, sodium kicks in and “bites” you, and then an acidic aftertaste follows. But what the taste actually is, I’m really not sure. All I know is that I couldn’t get more than a sip or two down!
For those that care, this drink is sweetened with inverted cane sugar, which helps make it Kosher. There isn’t a lot of sugar in this drink (in fact, just 1g), resulting in the calorie count clocking in at just 5 per bottle. Taking a look at the ingredients, it reads like a mad scientist’s idea for a disgusting beverage: carbonated water, salt, natural and artificial flavors, glucono delta lactone (acidulant), caramel color, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (as preservatives), modified food starch, ester gum, inverted can sugar, citric acid, and yellow 5. But hey, it’s caffeine free!
Overall, Jones Soda Latke Soda is not a recommended beverage. The bitter-but-lacking taste, high sodium content, and really low use of sugar creates not a potato-flavored drink, but rather one that prompts you to find something to cleanse your palette quickly!