Here in Chicago, my wife and I live in a pretty diverse neighborhood, noted by a strong Hispanic and Polish influence. This often produces some interesting options available at the local fruit market… or when you are seeking unique beverages to review. It’s with this background that I looked forward to experiencing a new line of 4 flavors from the folks at Jones Soda… I guess you could call it their Hispanic Collection. We start off with Jones Soda Naranja Mandarina, or in English, Jones Soda Mandarin Orange.
According to the press release I was sent (which featured both English and Spanish translations), “Jones Soda Co. is excited to introduce a new collection of Spanish labels and soda flavors honoring the culture and spirit of Hispanics living in America.” It goes on to mention that these four flavors will “debut in the single-serve sections of select retailers in Los Angeles, San Diego and Arizona.”
If you can’t find them near you, the flavors are also available via the Jones Soda website. Besides the Mandarin Orange flavor, there is Lime, Fruit Punch, and Pineapple Creme. Each will feature photos from Jones Soda fans that “celebrate the community and Hispanic artwork.”
Over the years, we’ve tasted many orange sodas, including Fanta Orange, Orange Slice, Orange Crush, Sunkist, and Tropicana Twister Soda Orange. There’s been some drinks in there that aren’t quite a real orange soda; Mountain Dew LiveWire comes to mind. There have been those that don’t look like an orange soda, like the clear Sierra Mist Undercover Orange. But in most cases, these drinks taste pretty fake and syrupy.
Jones Soda Mandarin Orange stands out from the pack, though it’s a different kind of orange experience. Just like their limited time Halloween entry from last year, Jones Soda Blood Orange Soda, Mandarin Orange isn’t exactly in the same flavor profile as a typical orange experience. The name isn’t a misnomer; there does seem to be a mandarin influence here. Mandarin oranges don’t have the same sourness as the typical citrus variety, and that’s reflected in this Jones flavor. It’s subdued, producing less “pucker”, being more mild and sweet. If you’ve had Hansen’s Natural Mandarin Lime Soda, you know what type of orange I’m talking about.
One of the best orange sodas I ever had was on a trip to Costa Rica I went on a few years ago… Fanta Naranja. It was pretty much Fanta Orange, but with real sugar. I’d pretty much put Jones Soda Mandarin Orange in that same category of excellence, which makes sense, given it’s use of pure cane sugar — or as described on the label of this drink, “refresco superior de caña pura.” This drink is very satisfying, clean, and not overly carbonated, allowing you to really taste the flavor.
We’ve reviewed many Jones Soda flavors over the years. One of our traditions here on BevReview.com is to take a look at the artwork featured on the bottle and provide some sort of comment about it, typically in a sarcastic way (which sometimes comes back to bite us, given that we’ve been contacted by many folks who tell us “hey, that’s MY photo!”) The photo on this bottle of Jones Soda Naranja Mandarina is #10402 and was shot by Frank Barbara of Encinitas, CA. This image, which is portrayed in black & white, appears to be some sort of sign by the side of the road, denoting a place called “Cocos”. A character is visible which probably represents a fruit or vegetable, I think. There’s a palm tree in the background, along with a bug, and the character is holding a container. Man, I don’t know where to start with this, other than it probably would make a pretty great 1980s cartoon… you know, the type that don’t make any sense!
Speaking of the bottle design, we see the standard Jones Soda white/black label color scheme in place, with the flavor name written in orange. This label is bilingual, with the Spanish title given prominence, while the flavor is translated into English below the photo. The nutrition facts, descriptive text, and ingredients are also presented in both languages on the back. Speaking of which…
Jones Soda Mandarin Orange
Carbonated water, inverted cane sugar, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate (as preservative), modified food starch, potassium sorbate (as preservative), ester gum, Yellow 6, Red 40
A 12 oz. bottle packs 170 calories, 35 mg of sodium, and 42 g of sugars… and is caffeine free.
Whatever you call it — Jones Soda Naranja Mandarina or Jones Soda Mandarin Orange — this Hispanic-influenced drink features an excellently satisfying flavor experience. It’s a different type of orange taste, one that’s not as bitter, but surprisingly mild and smooth. ¡Muy bien!