What it is: "Soda" made from fresh fruit berries or fruit puree and cane sugar
Bonnie: Those who’ve been reading my writings for sometime — here or in Supermarket Sampler — might be surprised that today’s FeaturedBite is a “soda.” I don’t drink soda, nor do I ever kindly review artificially colored, artificially flavored, carbonated beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or an “artificial” sweetener.
Instead, I drink sparkling water, AKA seltzer. And, if I want to flavor that water, I pour in some juice — orange and cranberry are my favorites. Bryan and Eric can attest that that’s the “soda” they were allowed to drink growing up. (Actually Bryan and Eric both mention my Gestapo-style soda tactics in his write-up below!)
When I received my samples of Spindrift, I did notice its motto, “a fresh take on sodas,” but didn’t sample them immediately. Once I did, I was pleasantly surprised that the water and fruit purée mixtures, with some added cane sugars, are refreshing and not too sweet.
Spindrift is made with fresh-squeezed fruit, sparkling water and evaporated cane juice. It has no high-fructose corn syrup, additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners or artificial colors. Some examples of what it does have are 1/4 of a fresh-squeezed grapefruit and fresh-squeezed lemon juice (Sparkling Grapefruit), eight crushed blackberries and fresh-squeezed lemon juice (Sparkling Blackberry) and 1/4 of a mango puréed with fresh squeezed orange (Sparkling Mango Orange).
Since these have added sugars, do drink them in moderation.
Bryan: Big fan, Huge. Didn’t think I would be, to be honest. It’s not that there is anything about Spindrift Sodas that would make you think anything bad about them; it’s just that I’m not really a “soda” guy in general. I drink water, coffee and sometimes iced tea; that’s about it. Sodas are generally just too sticky-sweet for me and, to be short, most are simply terrible, both in regard to taste and, of course, nutritional value. All things considered, imbibing soft drinks is a rare activity for me, so, you can likely see why I wasn’t expecting much from a new “soda.” Additionally, with all that in mind, my enjoyment of Spindrift Sodas can be taken as quite an endorsement.
I feel I must preface part of my just-noted disdain for sodas. As you might imagine, being the son of a registered dietitian and food writer meant sugary “crap” was not readily available in my house growing up. No sugary cereals, no cheese puffs or marshmallow fluff; nothing of the sort was consumed in our home. The closest thing to “soda” we had was the end product of mixing club soda (our only household “soda”) with orange juice. Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper were simply unheard of.
It seems, with this upbringing, I can better understand the founder of Spindrift, whose mother was apparently WAY crazier about having soda in the house when he was growing up. In fact, she wasn’t keen on almost any food that wasn’t raised by a local farmer or butcher. His family made its own butter and even raised its own chickens to collect the eggs. Now that we’ve framed his specific upbringing, you can start seeing his current soda company in a clearer light.
This is all about being NATURAL. While large soda brands often include corn syrup, aspartame, artificial flavors and colors, Spindrift moves away from all of that. There are a few natural soda brands produced from only water, real sugar and concentrated juice, but there is almost nobody producing sodas with real, fresh ingredients. Wait, though: There is actually a good reason for this. It’s not that people haven’t thought of this before; it’s just that fresh juice is very difficult to carbonate en masse, as the fruit and pulp foam to potentially cause explosions!
The best part of Spindrift is that it is doing it anyway! Now, the company is not causing explosions (though it did have some initial near-disasters), but it does battle ongoing difficulties, all in the spirit of providing you with the best possible sodas. Spindrift produces some wonderful, natural sodas. Six flavors to try, and likely all amazing. I say “likely” because I’ve only tried five flavors. Sorry, I know I’ll just never like Sparkling Grapefruit. The other flavors are: Sparkling Blackberry, Sparkling Mango Orange, Sparkling Lemonade, Sparkling Cranberry Raspberry and Sparkling Half & Half (brewed Tea and fresh-squeezed lemon). I finished off the five in the six-pack in two days, more soda than I’ve had in months. Mmmmmmm — try some; you’ll like it.
Eric: Growing-up with a nutritionist is not an easy task – there is simply far to much knowledge being shared about food (which has substantial pros, and unfortunate cons), and, there is a constant underlying slight guilt from consuming those foods deemed “unhealthy.” Soda is just one of those “unhealthy” foods. It was just not allowed — why on earth would sugar-filled, caffeine-infused colored water be an acceptable beverage? It wasn’t. Instead, we had homemade spritzers…
Carbonated water and juice; the spritzer was an essential staple of the kitchen table. The flavors were never-ending, and the health benefits outweighed any other option I could bring to the table — I had no valid argument. Instead, I grew to revere the spritzer, scoffing at most sodas along the way (although I do have a soft spot for the occasional Dr. Pepper). Before I had the opportunity to sample Spindrift Soda, I had already built bias toward the product. So many companies have tried, and failed, to produce a carbonated beverage both low in sugar and high in flavor. The formula seems simple, but something always gets lost in translation.
Spindrift was a surprise to me — a unique, refreshing approach to a healthy “soda”. Used as a mixer, or stand-alone, Spindrift soda is a great step in a direction geared towards educating consumers on a healthier lifestyle. Truly, drink responsibly…
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