Review: Route 66 Orange Soda

Back in 2006, we reviewed Route 66 Root Beer, a beverage targeted at travelers along famed Route 66. We found it bland at the time, but it turns out that there are other flavors. Thus, we present Route 66 Orange Soda.

Route 66 Orange Soda
Old Bottle Design

My wife and I have travelled the Illinois portion of Route 66 quite a few times and see various beverages along the way. Originally branded as Lucky 66 Orange Soda, this flavor is one of many now bottled by Route 66 Sodas, LLC. out of Lebanon, MO. The brand was previously handled by Route 66 Soda & Bottling Company of Wilmington, IL, but was purchased and moved in 2007.

With the new ownership, the brand has been undergoing a refreshening, including a move to decorated glass bottles vs. the paper labeled bottles that had been used in the past.

Route 66 Orange Soda
New Bottle Designs

A clear shift in brand has also been made by moving away from the “Lucky 66″ moniker and just going with “Route 66 Sodas” as the parent name. In the case of this review, however, we’ve got one of the older paper labeled bottles, but that shouldn’t effect what’s inside, right?

Upon cracking open the bottle, you are greeted with a muted orange scent. It’s not bad, just not what was expected. Personally, I was anticipating something much stronger. That theme actually carries over to the flavor itself. It’s not a powerful orange. Nothing on par with the over-the-top fakeness found in Crush, Fanta, or Sunkist.

I can’t say it’s the best orange I’ve ever had. It seemed to be lacking a certain “punch”, so to speak. Maybe like the previous root beer we had reviewed, this could be classified also as “bland.” Not horrible, but also probably not something you’d go out of your way to pick up when given other choices.

Now, in the company’s defense, it does appear that there has been a formula change between the older bottle we received and what is currently being sold. Here’s a comparison of ingredients:

Old Bottle
Carbonated water, cane sugar and/or high fructose corn sweetener, natural and artificial flavors, citric acid, modified food starch, FD&C Yellow #6, ester gum, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate

New Bottle
Carbonated water, real cane sugar, citric acid, gum arabic, sodium benzoate, natural flavors, ester gum, FD&C Yellow #6, Red #40 and BHA

A 12 oz bottle contains 160 calories, 41 mg sodium, 35 g carbs, and 28g sugars.

We’re looking forward to tracking down a newer bottle of Route 66 Orange Soda with its different formulation to see how it compares. Because frankly, we can’t really recommend the version we tried.