When it comes to the ultimate in novelty/disgusting soda, one only need to look back to 2003′s introduction of Jones Soda’s Turkey & Gravy Soda. I remember when it was announced… and I wondered if it was a joke.
Here at BevReview.com, we’re proud to say that since that first release of Turkey & Gravy, we’ve reviewed close to 40 Jones Soda holiday flavors. It’s a tradition that deserves a little historical tribute!
The Turkey & Gravy flavor returned in 2004, this time joined by a full meal in what Jones called a “Holiday Pack” including Green Bean Casserole Soda, Mashed Potato Soda, Cranberry Soda, and Fruitcake Soda.
By 2005, the operation was in full swing and Jones actually had two different 5-bottle collections released (all sweetened with Splenda, by the way): a standard “Holiday Pack” and a “Regional Pack” that was harder to find. But we did, tracking down all those flavors.
Yup, Turkey & Gravy was found in both collections. This time, the supporting flavors included Pumpkin Pie Soda, Wild Herb Stuffing Soda, Smoked Salmon Paté Soda, Brussels Sprout Soda, Broccoli Casserole Soda, Corn on the Cob Soda, Pecan Pie Soda, and the return of Cranberry Soda.
At this point, the market was saturated. However, 2006 bought us two more 5-bottle flavor offerings from Jones, in addition to three stand-alone 4-Packs: a standard “Holiday Pack” and something different, a “Dessert Pack“. Of course, the flagship flavor once again was Turkey & Gravy Soda, still artificially sweetened (and loaded with sodium!) But hey, if you could get beyond that, then flavors like Sweet Potato Soda, Pea Soda, Dinner Roll Soda, and one of my favorites, Antacid Flavored Soda — which came complete with a portion measuring cup like Pepto-Bismol — were happy to greet you.
Surprisingly, the Dessert Pack flavors were actually pretty good, primarily because they didn’t use sucralose for their sweetener, but rather high fructose corn syrup. It’s almost as if the folks at Jones Soda wanted to make a batch of something actually non-gross! So if you got to try Cherry Pie Soda, Key Lime Pie Soda (very good!), Blueberry Pie Soda, Apple Pie Soda, or Banana Cream Pie Soda, then you got something special.
But 2006 also offered three 4-Packs, each featuring 4 of the same flavor, again sweetened with HFCS. These “mainstream” releases were more conservative in flavor, but brought us Christmas cheer through Sugar Plum Soda, Candy Cane Soda, and yes, even Egg Nog Soda. Holiday 2006 was a great time to be a beverage reviewer… and it would prove to be the high point of the crazy Jones Soda holiday flavors.
Then 2007 hit… and our world was turned upside down!
Turkey & Gravy Soda was NOT part of the Jones Soda holiday lineup. Shocking! Instead we saw the release of a 4-bottle “Christmas Pack” (down from 5-bottle releases in previous years) and a new holiday liquid celebration by way of a 4-bottle “Chanukah Pack“. A truncated version of the previous year’s “Dessert Pack” was also released. And this time, all the special offerings were sweetened with pure cane sugar, which even made the rerun flavors taste different.
Seemingly taking the place of Turkey & Gravy Soda was the introduction of Christmas Ham Soda — which, while it was interesting, was no Turkey! Joining this non-turkey beverage was Christmas Tree Soda, an improved Egg Nog Soda, and Sugar Plum Soda. Catering to our Jewish friends, we got to explore the wonderful world of Latke Soda, Apple Sauce Soda, Chocolate Coins Soda, and Jelly Doughnut Soda.
The Target-exclusive return of the Dessert Pack brought back Cherry Pie Soda, Blueberry Pie Soda, and Apple Pie Soda, adding Lemon Meringue Pie Soda for the first time, but losing our Banana Cream Pie Soda and Key Lime Pie Soda.
Things totally hit rock bottom in 2008, with only the release of three 4-Packs. Nothing else. And nope, Turkey & Gravy could not be found there either. Instead, we got the return of Candy Cane Soda and the introduction of both Pear Tree Soda and Mele Kalikimaka Soda. Yes, they were conservative holiday entries… but where were the crazy Jones Soda flavors we had come to expect at Christmas?
That brings us to 2009. Would we see a further decrease in the zany holiday flavors that Jones Soda had established so well, or would things take an upswing?
Well, yes and no.
While we don’t have a dedicated “Holiday Pack”, Jones is at least offering some festive renaming of products via their MyJones customized label service: Evergreen Apple (Green Apple), Holiday Cheer (Strawberry Lime), Reindeer Root Beer (Root Beer), and Snowdrift Soda (Cream Soda). They aren’t new flavors, but at least they are festive.
But wait, what’s this?
A November 2 press release announcing something familiar but different? Could it be? Why yes… Turkey & Gravy Soda has returned, sorta. Introducing Jones Tofurky & Gravy Soda! That’s right, this time… it’s vegetarian-friendly! (Ha ha!)
I was excited to read that the iconic flavor was back for the holidays, but with a unique twist… using Tofurky. Whether there is any actual fake turkey in the bottle is debatable, it’s all in good fun. Here’s what the back of the label says:
Some people are crazy for turkey around the holidays… others not so much. For those of you with veggie leanings, Jones teamed up with the good folks at Tofurky to bring you a meatless option. We created this special soda for all you veg-heads out there. Best served with mashed potatoes and a couple of laughs, we hope you enjoy drinking it as much as we enjoyed making it. Happy Holidays from all your friends at Jones and Tofurky.
But how does it taste? Well, in years past, when you opened a bottle of Jones Turkey & Gravy Soda, you were greeted with something that had a gravy scent… barely. Not so with new Tofurky & Gravy Soda. It’s still that disgusting color of brown. When you open the cap, the carbonation greets you somewhat pleasantly, like when you open a bottle of Sprite. Then you inhale… and smell something that really has nothing to do with turkey or gravy. Instead, it’s like… plastic. Rather hard to describe, but it’s more along the lines of the scent found in a common household cleaner, like Murphy’s Oil Soap or something similar.
Then you actually put the liquid in your mouth.
I’m not sure there are enough synonyms for the word “gross”, but that’s pretty much what it is. The first thing to hit you is the 300 mg of sodium, making for a carbonated, salty, artificially-sweetened experience on the tip of your tongue. Then the drink passes towards the back of your mouth with a rather non-organic profile. Image if you were to take a bunch of Ziplock bags and melt them over a stovetop into liquid form. Add a ton of salt and seltzer water and that’s pretty much the experience of Tofurky & Gravy. I know that in previous, non-vegan, non-Tofurky Turkey versions of this drink, yes it was bad, but there was at least some semblance of what it was supposed to taste like. I didn’t detect any of that with this iteration.
The gag reflex wasn’t totally triggered, but that probably has to do with the lack of actual scent with this drink. While it’s not flavorless, it’s definitely not flavorful. There’s an emptiness in the taste profile, longing to be filled with some sort of flavor, but instead it’s like the default setting for this drink was set on “yuck”!
Overall, it’s a rather unpleasant drinking experience.
As it has in its past life, Tofurky & Gravy Soda is loaded with a LOT of sodium… 300 mg to be exact! However, it has 0 g of fat, 0 g of carbs, and 0 calories. This is made possible by the use of sucralose as the sweetener – no pure cane sugar here, how curious! The ingredients are an interesting read, including stuff you don’t typically find in a beverage:
Jones Soda Tofurky & Gravy Soda
Carbonated water, salt, natural and artificial flavors, glucono delta lactone (acidulant), modified food starch, caramel color, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (as preservatives), sucralose (a nonnutritive sweetener), ester gum, medium chain triglyceride
Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?
My bottle features Photo #10534, denoted as part of “Holiday Edition 2009″ and shot by Kelsee Irby of Salem, OR. It’s pretty much shoes and leaves, but I like the texture and color contrast used in the shot. Nice job Kelsee!
Incidentally, Jones is selling Tofurky & Gravy Soda via their website exclusively. When you order it, you get 3 bottles of Tofurky, along with each of the new flavors of Jones Zilch, which we recently reviewed and found to be pretty good.
We’re happy to report that once again Jones Turkey, er, Tofurky & Gravy Soda is a disgusting addition to your Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. It just wouldn’t be the same without it, ya know? Thanks to Jones Soda for bringing back an old favorite with an interesting twist. Don’t let us down in 2010!