Pop Tarts

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Drop by drop, silly soda pops are filling up America's children with empty calories. And diabetes. What's more, actually less, is that the stuff generally tastes like the useless chemicals from which it's fabricated. I mean, the list of ingredients on the side of a soda can is a lineup only a Dow Chemical researcher could read and love.

Yeah, I know we're all raised on it as kids, but maybe it's time we all grow up. Fortunately over the last few years, several forward-looking companies have stepped up to produce more health-minded and more carefully made sodas that actually taste good, too (see, those qualities can go hand-in-hand, or at least hand-in-mouth).

A few months back, while I was researching and writing about several such upscale soda companies, one drink I couldn't locate locally was Nutrisoda. Well, a weekend visit to the recently reborn (and now very smartly stocked) Pace High Carryout led me to the previously elusive sodas.

Eight were available there, so I decided to try a few ($1.79 each). The Nutrisodas came in thin, streamlined, quarter-liter (8.4 oz) cans. Curiously, the drinks have names like Flex, Focus and Radiant - in other words, they might well be American Gladiators.

Also unexpected was that the Nutrisodas were not made like the other new wave of healthier sodas I've written about, i.e. they weren't just fresh fruit juices plus gassy water.

No, these negligibly caloried pops (zero to 15) had a long list of chemically ingredients. The basic gist is each particular sip is designed to provide a specific mood-altering effect. After sucking back a few, I believe I'd attribute most such alterations to the placebo effect. In general, I found all these to be quite tart, refreshing enough, yet not particularly fresh-fruity. Here's how some of them specifically drank.

Nutrisoda Type: Energize (Mandarin + Mint)

Appearance: The color of golden lager beer

Flavors: Smelled like mandarin orange and tasted like it. Quite fizzy. Good, but I would appreciate more refresh-mint

Flex (Black Cherry + Apple)

Appearance:A pretty deep pink

Flavors:Smelled like red Twizzlers; tasted candy-like, with tart cherry and a bit of green apple

Calm (Wild Berry + Citron)

Appearance:Like a nice rose wine

Flavors:Smelled like crushed, macerated strawberries; tasted like juicy strawberries with a hint of tangerine

Renew (Watermelon + Blueberry)

Appearance:Pale pink

Flavors:Had a medicinal, vitamin-pill aroma and tasted like Red Bull lite. It was the least fruity and my least favorite

Focus (Mango + Peach)

Appearance:Opaque, greenish yellow

Flavors:Had a funky, almost garlicky tropical fruity aroma. Tasted mostly of grapefruit, but with mango and peach too. Unusual but one of my favorites

WE TRIED IT! Spot a new menu item you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail gbenton@columbusalive.com