Review: Jones Soda Bacon Soda

If it’s holiday season again, it must be time for another disgusting beverage from our friends at Jones Soda Co. After all, they’ve been the purveyors of fall/winter novelty grossness since they introduced the world to Turkey & Gravy Soda in 2003.

As we detailed extensively last year, 2009′s release of Jones Soda Tofurky & Gravy Soda put the company back on track in the “gross holiday soda” genre after a disappointing 2008 that saw them greatly backtrack on innovation. And while both 2009 and this year’s releases are a single flavor, they are creative and quality outings… well, as far as vomit-inducing novelty soft drinks are concerned! We’ve covered over 40 Jones Soda holiday soft drink releases since they first appeared; just take a look at our yearly archives: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, & 2009.

This time around, Jones partnered with the folks at J&D’s Foods, a company with the slogan “Everything should taste like bacon.” J&D’s is previously responsible for bringing products like Baconnaise, Bacon Salt, BaconPOP, and Bacon Gravy to market. This partnership concept is not new, as in 2009 Jones did the same thing by hooking up with Turtle Island Food, owners of the Tofurky brand. Given that both Jones and J&D’s are based in Seattle, it was a match that seemed meant to be!

As part of a packaged bundle, $9.99 plus shipping got you two bottles of Jones Bacon Flavored Soda, as well as a bunch of products from J&D’s, including Cheddar BaconPop popcorn, Bacon Gravy mix, and a tube of Bacon Lip Balm. I’m not so sure the value was a great as last year’s Tofurky bundle, where you got 3 bottles of Tofurky & Gravy Soda, as well as 3 bottles of Jones Zilch, plus a metal lunchbox and some stickers, all for 2 bucks more than what you are paying for the bacon bundle this year (where you only get 2 bottles of soda).

This is the first holiday release to sport the new Jones label design, with a bolder font and streamlined presentation of photo and product flavor. In the case of Bacon Soda, two photo options are available: Bacon Man (Photo #2131514, Seattle, WA) and Rosaura (Photo #21315142, Arizona City, AZ). In our case, we received two bottles with the Bacon Man label, but one of them was almost completely ripped off the bottle by the time we opened the shipping box. Jones was kind enough to send a replacement bottle. In any case, the label is mostly black, with light yellow/orange highlights to bring out the “baconness” of the drink, I would assume.

A short explanation paragraph on the back tries to excuse what Jones calls “Bacon in a Bottle”:

Bacon flavored soda? Okay, pigs may not be able to fly, but that’s not stopping us from bottling a batch of this stuff for you anyway. Drawing inspiration from everyone’s favorite cured meat, we partnered with J&D’s Foods, the makers of Bacon Salt, and produced this refreshingly meaty creation. So crack open a bottle and “ink-dray up-way”… because everything tastes better with bacon.

Before drinking Jones Bacon Soda, a look at the ingredients should indicate how this is going to taste. It lists 516 mg of sodium. I think that’s a record for Jones holiday beverages, including the original Turkey & Gravy (310 mg), and some close runners-up like Dinner Roll (290 mg) and Christmas Ham (250 mg). The drink also steps away from the “pure cane sugar” stance of Jones and is instead sweetened by sucralose (i.e. Splenda).

The drink is brown, a bit lighter than a traditional cola. Probably closer in color to something like Pepsi Natural. Pop open the screw-off cap and you smell… well, bacon. They definitely nailed that. The scent comes off as a bit artificial, but that’s to be expected, because, well… it is!

And how about the taste? The first sip brings carbonated saltiness to your lips. As we’ve found with most obscure Jones Holiday flavors, it’s at this point where you are just sort of afraid to move the drink to the back of your mouth. There’s a baconness there, but it’s bubbly. As it flows over your tongue, there isn’t a whole lot of flavor, but the smell and the saltiness stick with you. Then it hits the back of your throat, where it’s probably the most effective. And you know what… it does taste like bacon!

This in itself is rather surprising because as we’ve found over the years, when Jones gives you a flavor like Corn on the Cob or Brussels Sprout, usually the scent is there, but the flavor is nothing like the label on the bottle. That’s definitely not the case here with Bacon Soda. Sure, it’s still gross and ridiculous, but I think by teaming up with J&D’s, the flavorologists at Jones were finally able to nail the taste of something that really doesn’t belong in a bottle.

There is a somewhat salty and somewhat bitter aftertaste, which aside from the fact that this is flavored like bacon, can probably be attributed to the artificial sweetener. There’s also something else very unique about the flavor of this drink. It sticks with you… long after you’ve digested it. The bacon lingers in your throat, your lungs, your nasal passages.

So, to recap. This is a disgusting idea and not a very good beverage to drink. As a novelty item, it’s ideal to share at your holiday parties. However, I must tip my cap to Jones Soda for actually making the drink taste like it’s described. That’s no easy task… and they’ve been at this since 2005. Bacon Soda is well-executed!