Review: Arizona Soda Shaq Cream Soda – Vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry, & Orange


Soda Shaq Cream Soda is a curious product line from Arizona for many reasons. With a unique product type and non-traditional selection of ingredients, the 4 flavors — Soda Shaq Vanilla Cream Soda, Soda Shaq Blueberry Cream Soda, Soda Shaq Strawberry Cream Soda, & Soda Shaq Orange Cream Soda — produce mixed results.

Arizona Soda Shaq Cream Soda

Arizona Soda Shaq Cream Soda

Arizona tends to focus on non-soda products, such as juices, teas, lemonades, and the like. However, with the expansion of the Lime Rickey lineup, as well as this new Soda Shaq collection, they seem to be consciously attempting to grow this niche in their product line. With the sales of carbonated soft drinks on a steady decline for the past decade, perhaps they figure their fixed 99 cents model and familiar 23.5 oz cans can help sway stats in their favor.

Arizona basketball-themed branding

Arizona basketball-themed branding

Another unique aspect of this Soda Shaq line is the ingredient list, namely the use of real sugar. Arizona tends to use high fructose corn syrup in most of their products, often with a few artificial sweeteners thrown in to lower the overall calorie total. In the case of these products, however, it’s all about sugar and honey. These products also contain bourbon vanilla extract, and in a few cases, juice extracts.

Even more Shaq on the side!

Even more Shaq on the side!

It’s not surprising, however, that Arizona signed up a athlete to be the face of their product line, given the success they’ve had with Arnold Palmer tea/lemonade and Jack Nicklaus lemonade (though who knows how the Joe DiMaggio coffee stuff is doing). In this case, we’ve got former-NBA player Shaquille O’Neal literally being the face of this drink. The cans feature Shaq’s face prominently on the font, with the tagline “A Big Can for the Big Man” (Two different face designs per flavor, as the cans are numbered.) Basketball imagery drives the look, with the color of the flavor being reflected in each can design.

Typically cream soda is a one-off beverage flavor; it’s not often you’ll find multiple variations of cream soda available. One exception that comes to mind are the 4 flavors available from Dad’s Root Beer — Dad’s Cream Soda, Dad’s Orange Cream Soda, Dad’s Red Cream Soda, & Dad’s Blue Cream Soda.

Arizona Soda Shaq Vanilla Cream Soda

Arizona Soda Shaq Vanilla Cream Soda

Let’s start out with what is probably the “classic” flavor, Soda Shaq Vanilla Cream Soda. This product comes in a cream-colored can, denoting “All Natural”, “No Preservatives”, “No Artificial Flavor”, and “No Artificial Color.” What’s surprising is that all of these Soda Shaq flavors feature just 90 calories per serving; granted, the entire 23.5 oz can contains 264.4 calories. Vanilla Cream has a slight “cream soda scent,” with just a tad of the vanilla scent being noticeable. The color is golden yellow. As for the taste, it’s very sweet, and in some ways, a bit syrupy, to be honest. The flavor tends to be on the bitter side as well, with the lightly carbonated drink producing a somewhat head-scratching aftertaste. It’s not that it’s a bad flavor, but rather it’s not not notable. It tastes like a store brand cream soda.

Soda Shaq Vanilla Cream Soda
Carbonated filtered water, sugar, honey, natural flavor, bourbon vanilla extract, citric acid.

A 23.5 oz can contains 264.4 calories, 29.4 mg sodium, and 70.5 g carbs (70.5 g sugars). Caffeine free.

Arizona Soda Shaq Blueberry Cream Soda

Arizona Soda Shaq Blueberry Cream Soda

Moving on to Soda Shaq Blueberry Cream Soda, what’s notable about this flavor is the use of blueberry juice from concentrate. The color is reddish gold, darker than the standard Vanilla Cream flavor. When you open the can, you are greeted with a scent that I can only describe as akin to that of Jiffy Blueberry Muffin Mix. The flavor is really not very cream soda-ish. The blueberry dominates overall, producing a somewhat medicinal aftertaste. Even though there are quite few authentic ingredients inside, I just didn’t love this flavor.

Soda Shaq Blueberry Cream Soda
Carbonated filtered water, sugar, honey, natural flavor, blueberry juice from concentrate, bourbon vanilla extract, citric acid, fruit and vegetable juice for color.

A 23.5 oz can contains 264.4 calories, 29.4 mg sodium, and 70.5 g carbs (70.5 g sugars). Caffeine free.

Arizona Soda Shaq Strawberry Cream Soda

Arizona Soda Shaq Strawberry Cream Soda

Shifting over to Soda Shaq Strawberry Cream Soda, which has a reddish orange/gold color, the scent reminds me of the fake strawberry hue found on drinks like Fanta Strawberry. The cream soda flavor comes through stronger in Strawberry vs. Blueberry, even if the “strawberry flavor” (as denoted by the ingredients) tastes quite syrupy. Still, the strawberry/cream mix has a nice balance, with both sides holding their own and not overwhelming the other. The aftertaste is clean, with a nice fade out.

Soda Shaq Strawberry Cream Soda
Carbonated filtered water, sugar, honey, natural flavor, bourbon vanilla extract, natural strawberry flavor, citric acid, fruit and vegetable juice for color.

A 23.5 oz can contains 264.4 calories, 29.4 mg sodium, and 70.5 g carbs (70.5 g sugars). Caffeine free.

Arizona Soda Shaq Orange Cream Soda

Arizona Soda Shaq Orange Cream Soda

Finally, we come to what I feel is the strongest flavor in the collection, Soda Shaq Orange Cream Soda. A yellow/gold-colored drink with a faint orange scent, there’s real orange juice inside this flavor. In short, this iteration is a nice liquid interpretation of a melted Dreamsicle. There’s a good balance of cream vs. orange flavoring, but the orange is really what makes this work. There’s an authenticity to the flavor experience and it’s not overtly heavy. This is a tasty product!

Soda Shaq Orange Cream Soda
Carbonated filtered water, sugar, orange juice from concentrate, honey, natural flavor, bourbon vanilla extract, vegetable juice for color, citric acid.

A 23.5 oz can contains 264.4 calories, 29.4 mg sodium, and 70.5 g carbs (70.5 g sugars). Caffeine free.

Overall, the Soda Shaq lineup is ambitious, but it tackles a soft drink niche (cream soda) that isn’t saturated with competitors. Add in the celebrity push that Mr. O’Neal brings, and it’s probably going to move some product. It’s going to be especially interesting to watch how Arizona continues to do in the standard carbonated soft drink space, as they venture beyond their core strengths.