Editor's Note: Since this review was authored, a second test version of Fanta Select was discovered. Thus, for clarification purposes, BevReview refers to the beverage in this review as Fanta Select (Version 1) while the newer tested beverage is Fanta Select (Version 2).
Just like its lemon lime sibling, we recently got our hands on a can of Fanta Select, a product that is currently being test marketed in Atlanta, Detroit, Louisville, and Memphis. BevReview fan Bob Manning (Troy, MI) read our preview story from May and was kind enough to track down the Select lineup for review.
Fanta Select is a mid-calorie product, much like Pepsi Next. The biggest difference, however, is that Select is sweetened by a combination of sugar and stevia (Coke uses the Truvia brand), while Next uses a chemical cocktail of high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose. As such, Coke is marketing Fanta Select as being "Naturally Sweetened," with 70 calories per can.
The can design is primarily white, with light orange outlines of oranges in the background. A smallish Fanta logo sits above the word "Select," produced in the same style as Sprite Select. Towards the bottom of the can we find the phrase "full flavor, half calories," as well as a proclamation that this drink has "50% fewer calories than regular Fanta Orange Soda."
Orange soda is a challenge when it comes to non-full-calorie drinks. In the Stevia world, Zevia seems to have done a nice job, while Sans is phasing out their orange flavor due to lack of popularity. Hybrid sweeteners seem to do a nice job, as we noted in our review of Sunkist Ten. Upon opening this can of Fanta Select, I find a familiar orange scent typically associated with the full-calorie version of the brand.
The drink starts out like you would expect an orange-flavored soda to begin. Sweet, lots of carbonation, orange in color. Unfortunately, it's downhill from there. Unlike how we felt with Sprite Select, there's a lot of "fakeness" present in Fanta Select. I mean, just look at the ingredient list:
Carbonated water, sugar, erythritol, citric acid, natural flavors, sodium benzoate (to protect taste), modified food starch, sodium hexametaphosphate, stevia leaf extract, glycerol ester of rosin, Yellow 6, brominated vegetable oil, Red 40
As the drink passes over your tongue, there's a strong chemical taste, compounded by bitterness typically associated with stevia-sweetened drinks. The aftertaste lingers, and its not that pleasant. While full-calorie Fanta tends to have a syrupy theme, Fanta Select creates more of a reactive grimace in flavor. Is it better than Fanta Zero? Well, both have artificial flavor experiences throughout the drink experience. Fanta Select has the edge in that the orange is more authentic from the outset, however. I prefer the taste of Sunkist Ten over Fanta Select. This Fanta product is just too mired in bitterness.
A 12 oz can contains 70 calories, 55 mg sodium, and 24 g carbs (17 g sugars). Caffeine free.
Thanks again to Bob Manning for making this product available to review. We greatly appreciate it!