Review: Sunkist Solar Fusion


Back in March, we reported on a new Sunkist brand extension from the Dr Pepper Snapple Group called Sunkist Solar Fusion. Now that the product is available, let’s give it the ole BevReview look and see what’s inside!

Sunkist Solar Fusion

Sunkist Solar Fusion

The folks at DPSG noted that Solar Fusion is “a powerfully delicious blend of tropical and citrus flavors, combining the great taste of Sunkist with Caffeine and Vitamin B for energy.” In fact, this drink contains Vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12. Sunkist already has the distinction of being one of the few orange sodas that contain caffeine, so this version with more “pep” is a logical extension, though it does seem like the same approach that we saw with 2008′s Squirt Citrus Power… shortlived and also from Dr Pepper Snapple Group (well, Cadbury Schweppes at the time… same company, new name).

The label design uses the recently-refreshed Sunkist logo (which is actually quite good) complimented by black highlights and a red/blue “flame device” behind the logo — apparently depicting a solar flare of some sort. The drink describes itself as “tropical mandarin flavored soda” and notes that it contains caffeine and B vitamins. The package design is attractive and compliments the red/orange-colored beverage well.

Open the cap and you do smell mandarin oranges… or at least something in that same tangerine family. There’s a sharpness to your initial sip which contrasts against the perceived taste of what an orange soft drink should be. It’s somewhat bitter, but welcomed, to be honest. As the taste lingers, that aggressive flavor fades away and produces a somewhat weak-tasting traditional orange that sits on your tongue. The aftertaste is awash in a syrupy, high fructose corn syrup-ladden mess that is expected with this type of carbonated beverage.

Tropical Mandarin!

Tropical Mandarin!

So, to summarize… starts intriguingly, middle is so-so, end is “seriously, this flavor again?” With a small tweaking of the formula (and maybe the inclusion of sugar vs. HFCS), this could be a standout flavor, in our opinion. The use of B Vitamins has questionable value that probably can only be determined by personal experience. We’re not sold on this idea of making a carbonated soft drink seem healthier by infusing it with nutrients.

What’s inside? We’re glad you asked:

Sunkist Solar Fusion
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine, natural flavors, Yellow 6, ascorbic acid and calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor), niacinamide (Vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Red 40, pyridoxine hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Blue 1, cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)

A 20 oz. plastic bottle contains 300 calories, 120 mg of sodium, and 81 g of carbs (of which, 78g are sugars). On the nutrients front, Solar Fusion possesses just 25% of your recommended daily value each of Niacin, Vitamin B6, B12, and Pantothenic Acid… so don’t go ditching your colorful Flintstones vitamins just yet.

In the caffeine department, Sunkist Solar Fusion contains 4.1 mg/oz. In comparison, Pepsi contains 3.2 mg/oz while Coke has 2.9 mg/oz. In the fruit/citrus pop category where Solar Fusion probably will be compared, Mountain Dew has 4.5 mg/oz., Mello Yello has 4.3 mg/oz., and standard orange Sunkist contains 3.4 mg/oz. So even though the caffeine element is hyped, it’s not beyond the threshold of other soft drinks and is definitely not at energy drink levels.

To be honest, we liked the taste of Sunkist Solar Fusion. It’s twisted orange/pineapple/mandarin flavor actually is pretty good. The packaging design is very attractive, which should help with impulse buys at convenience stores. Inclusion of caffeine continues a differentiator of the Sunkist brand in the “orange soda” space. The biggest drawback is probably how the bite from the flavor disappears quickly and leaves you with a very syrupy aftertaste.