When we first moved to Illinois, back in ’93, there were three things I was delighted to find there. The first was original Taco flavored Doritos. They had stopped selling those in Louisiana and I was thrilled to have them once again. Of course, a few months later, they “changed the formula” and that was that. The second was a radio station called “The Planet,” my first experience with a “mainstream alternative” radio station. The idea of hearing the likes of Pearl Jam and The Lemonheads on the radio was appealing until I realized they played nothing but Pearl Jam and the Lemonheads. No matter what the 40 songs are, if you only play them over and over, it gets tiresome.
The third thing was a beverage called “Koala”. I don’t know much about these drinks; I think they were distributed by Coca-Cola. They were citrus drinks, and the flavor I liked was a mixture of lemon, lime, and orange. What I especially liked was that although they were carbonated, the carbonation wasn’t as overpowering as it is in most sodas. Naturally, within months of discovering this drink, it was removed from the market. Since then I’ve looked without luck for a replacement.
I stopped drinking soda regularly a while back, to both lose some weight and save some cash. Sugar water is just so expensive, with very little going for it. Nowadays I have the occasional Coke or similar, but all in all even the sodas I used to enjoy are now too sweet and syrupy for my refined palate.
Well, the other day I went to the grocery and as I passed the organic/natural/hippy food my eye caught a four-pack of something called “The Switch”. Orange Tangerine was the flavor, 100% Juice, Carbonated, on sale…sure, I’ll give it a try.
As with most products nowadays, The Switch isn’t a beverage, it’s a holistic lifestyle choice or some shit. Their website is getoffthehype dot com and it is about what you’d expect from any other product selling itself by railing against “hype”. The logo has a new-age-friendly yin-yang in it. And of course, there’s the name, “The Switch”, which is stupid for a beverage but I guess no stupider than, say, “Koala” or “Mr. Pibb”. (“I’m drinking Mr. Pibb!” “How does Mrs. Pibb feel about this?”) Here’s a blurb from the site about how this name came to be:
A lot of people ask us why we named it The Switch. We’d like to tell you that we named our carbonated juice “The Switch” because we wanted people to switch from other beverages to ours, but that just wouldn’t be true. We asked a lot of people what they thought we should name it. In fact, the first name was Knew Juice (we’re glad we changed it).
One day we were speaking with a bunch of skate boarders in Richmond, Virginia describing our carbonated juice to them. They kept talking about “switching” things up on the skateboard so they didn’t get bored. We figured it was good enough for us. Oh yeah, we also listened to a lot of U2 and we like their guitarist “The Edge”, so we put “The” in front of “Switch” and we became “The Switch”. Names really aren’t that important. What’s in the bottle is what counts. That’s where we always win. You gotta taste it.
But yes, yes, let’s “get off the hype” and get to what’s in the bottle.
What’s in the bottle is a very tasty citrus beverage. The 100% juice does make a difference, and the lack of corn syrup is a plus. (The only sugar is that contained naturally in the fruit.) Sure enough, none of the ingredients are weird. What you get is a bright, citrusy taste with that same light carbonation I liked in Koala. They claim that one bottle is the equivalent of 2 servings of fruit. I could definitely drink this regularly.
There’s a downside, of course. A smaller bottler, no reliance on corn syrup, and a hip trendy campaign mean you pay more. I wish I remembered right now how much I paid for this four-pack. (EDIT: I found the reciept. The four pack was six bucks. Yikes!) I suspect that it probably doesn’t cost much more than a similar amount of Coca-Cola, but compared to my usual beverage of choice — tap water — it certainly isn’t cheap. That makes it a “sometimes” drink. An eight ounce serving has 130 calories, compared to Coke’s 97. You’re not gonna get skinny drinking it.
The remaining downside, of course, is that since I like it, it will vanish from store shelves in about four months. So if you want to give it a try, better do so soon.