Guest reviewer and vintage soda enthusiast George Tsakiridis returns with another review.
Let’s once again take a look at the glass bottled beverage offerings of Old 52 General Store. Today we pop the cap off Kickapoo Joy Juice!
Kickapoo Joy Juice derives its name from the Li’l Abner cartoon that dates back to the 1930′s. The Monarch Beverage Company began in 1965 with Kickapoo as its only beverage, but proceeded to acquire a number of drinks over the years, adding to its eclectic portfolio of beverages. Right away, you have to like the prospects of a drink that derived from a fictional world from the glory years of comic strips/books.
The bottle is a fairly standard green glass configuration. The cap is red as well as the highlights on the label. One interesting note is that this bottle’s configuration is not found on the drink’s website itself, which I am guessing is due to the licensing out of the product for this particular glass bottling. The label has what looks like a Li’l Abner cartoon with the catch phrase “The Original Dogpatch Recipe,” which from what I can tell through some web searches, derives from the Li’l Abner strip itself (the website mentions the characters as Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe). Li’l Abner is a little before my time, so although I am familiar with it in name, I am learning too. I’m sure some readers feel very old right now, while others never even heard of the strip. I find myself in the liminal space between.
Also notable is that in dot-matrix-looking print on the side of the bottle there is printed (in really small lettering): “KICKAPOO IS GOOD 4 U.” Now it is my turn to feel old as I’m sure some of you have never heard the term “dot matrix.”
The ingredient list reads as follows: “Carbonated water, cane sugar, citric acid, concentrated grapefruit juice, caffeine, gum arabic, sodium citrate, natural flavor, EDTA (to protect flavor), sodium benzoate (a preservative), brominated vegetable oil, and Yellow 5.” A bottle has 12 fluid ounces and contains 180 calories and 45 grams of sugar. So, just looking at the ingredient list, you can see that this drink does not have the early twentieth century roots of some of the other drinks I have reviewed from Old 52. In fact, it has that 1960′s feel of experimentation with chemicals and coloring, but not to the degree of some beverages today. It also contains “less than 1% juice,” just for the record. In addition, it is cane sugar sweetened, which is very promising.
Now, let’s get to the meat of the review. Is it just me or does mentioning meat in a beverage review seem a bit odd? Anyway, I twist open the cap to a small “pop” and off we go. The first sniff reveals a strong lemon-lime scent, stronger than what I might expect out of the vast array of lemon-lime drinks out there. This is promising. The liquid is a light green color and the whole experience reminds me of drinking a Mountain Dew. At first taste, it tastes somewhat like Mountain Dew, but the carbonation has a bit more bite to it, almost like some of the ginger beer/ale that I have sampled before. The overall taste is sweet, and it leaves a bit of a sugary aftertaste, sort of like a fresh lemonade, where the sugar overpowers the lemons. In addition, the inclusion of caffeine in the ingredient list puts it more in line with Mountain Dew than with some of the other lemon-lime drinks on the market.
Overall, I really enjoyed Kickapoo Joy Juice. It is a bit more artificial than I would prefer personally, but the taste is great. It is the kind of drink that would go well with pizza, but could be solid as a standalone. For a standalone, however, I think I would like it a bit less sugary to enhance thirst quenching ability. Of course this is the difficulty with most soda pop as one drinks it for the taste. In the end, I was quite happy with the drink as a whole, and it was a bit better than I would have expected.
Full Disclosure: This beverage was provided compliments of Old 52 General Store