Beverage Review: The Switch

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.

Shudder…

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.

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6 Responses to Beverage Review: The Switch

  1. Ryan Walberg says:

    That’s what I like so much about Canadian Coke and Pepsi — it’s made with sugar, not corn syrup. When I lived in Minnesota for a couple years I used to bring some Canadian pop back when I visited Canada. My co-workers loved it.

  2. shas says:

    > That’s what I like so much about Canadian Coke and Pepsi — it’s made
    >with sugar, not corn syrup. When I lived in Minnesota for a couple years
    >I used to bring some Canadian pop back when I visited Canada. My
    >co-workers loved it.

    I’ve had Mexican Coke and Dublin (Texas) Dr. Pepper, both made with sugar rather than corn syrup. I’d heard tons of people say this sort of thing, but I really couldn’t taste the difference.

  3. Uncle Stewart says:

    Dave- Great entry, as usual. I’ll try to give “The Switch” a try if I see it on the shelves out here. I’m also glad you mentioned the high calorie content, since a lot of people equate “natural” with “healthy”. There is a great “beverage” choice out here that I’m sure you would love, called “Deathwish”. We will go try one out when you guys visit this summer.

  4. pronoblem says:

    Synchronicity. I had a similar dialog just last night with Al and Ally.

    I made a trip to the Asian market to get some supplies for Sunday game day: curry paste, saffron, coconut milk, mint, cilantro, dried onion, snap peas, limes, etc… for the meal that I planned. Yes, another curry dish. I stopped at the cooler to get a drink. There are no brand names or slick marketing – well, at least not that I can tell as it is not in English. Any way, the dialog was about how simple the ingredients were and how cheap. It was a 12oz can of iced coffee for $0.75 and the ingredients were: Water, coffee, cane sugar, milk. The sodas were the same as far as simplicity of ingredients – and with some flavors that I’ve tried from that cooler that I do really like… tamarind (very nice), ginger beer, pineapple, coconut, pomegranate, mango, etc.

    Same thing can be found at the super market in the Kosher aisle and some of the Spanish brands… well, the Goya sodas are very inexpensive but they are still high fructose corn syrup – still, I buy their ginger beer and tamarind soda for mixed drinks. Steer away from the hippie aisle. That stuff is too expensive, and we all know that hippies are rich and more a victim to marketing than most. You can get the same quality elsewhere and cheaper.

  5. Dave says:

    Truth of the matter is, water’s cheap and does the trick, plus it’s always at my fingertips. I really don’t see me buying any drinks for everyday drinkage ever again.

  6. Kurt says:

    I drink around 3 or 4 cokes per day and what seems like a gallon of tap water. Coke costs most people around 25-40 cents a can. I know that we often get 12 packs on sale for $3. I hate the taste of coffee and I like the way caffeine makes me feel (especially in the morning). I also like the taste of Coke (“Zero” at the moment, so no cals). Still, I think it’s odd not to drink lots of water. I drink water whenever I eat out. ‘The Switch’ sounds pretty interesting, but I’m not sure a citrus drink would be for me. Sounds like ‘Squirt’ but with less sugar(?).

    Oh, and rest assured that 1 of two things will happen. They’ll change the formula or pull it from the market. (Remember how good Spap Oop used to be?)