Friday, November 24, 2023

Closing Soon for the 2023 Year: Minnesota's Largest Candy Store

My boys and I made a quick stop to Minnesota's Largest Candy Store on Wednesday. I needed to refresh my soda stash, and they are closing for the season on Sunday evening, Nov 26th, 2023! Here are a few photos from our stop:

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023
A HUGE (sun-faded) puzzle out front.

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023
Some of the "superhero room" at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store.

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023
Looking across the big candy area. Notice all the puzzles in the ceiling!

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023
The "final" room full of space-related things. And a large Thanos!

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023
The "Harry Potter hallway" near the end of the store.

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023
Batman in the foreground, Harley Quinn in the background, and lots of treats in between.

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Nov 2023
See you next May!

I picked up 25 sodas (a case +1), so look for reviews on those shortly! I actually didn't take any photos of the soda section, but check out this post from 2.5 years ago for lots of photos of the soda sections.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Diet Pepsi and Cherry Coke Zero REDESIGN

I just picked up some of my normal "go-to" diet sodas, and BOTH just had a big redesign. Here, I compare the old (on the left) with the new (on the right):

Diet Pepsi Redesign
Really basic redesign, but I like that it's a little retro (in the text) but with an overall more modern and cleaner look.

Cherry Coke Zero Redesign
Cherry Coke Zero brought a bit of "classic Coke red" into the can...

Cherry Coke Zero Redesign Close-up
... and the top half is a very visible halftone pattern that fades to the older Cherry Coke Zero color.


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Zia Sandia Cola: Watermelon, Mint, and Lime

Here's another soda that my friends sent me:

Zia Sandia

Zia Sandia
I was looking for a line like "separation or floating ingredients is normal" after seeing stuff at the bottom!


Brand: Zia Sandia.  

Origin: Taos, New Mexico.

Purchase Place: Smith's, Kaysville, UT.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was intriguing to me. I thought the flavor combo sounded like a possible hit! But it was a little to tart and "zingy" for me. This is definitely an "adult" soda as it's not very sweet but has a lot of flavor. There's a subtle watermelon flavor/sweetness that is then met with a punch of mint and lime later in each sip. It's the mint and lime combo that I'm not 100% sold on - it's unique and it tastes sort of how you'd expect, but it's not ALL that tasty. Not sure what to think about this one... but it DID grow on me a bit as I kept sipping on the bottle (and it's definitely a "sipping" soda - this is not something that you'd chug!), so it raised the score from a 4 earlier on to a 5 by the end.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Ramune Original Flavor

I was at HyVee earlier today, and I found this in the Asian Foods aisle:

Ramune Original Flavor

Brand: Ramune Original Flavor.

Origin: Japan.

Purchase Place: HyVee, Eagan, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sugar.

Review: "Original Flavor..." what's that? I don't always do well with "mystery" flavors. After the fun task of opening these special bottles, I took a sip. I first thought it was some sort of fruit flavor, but I quickly realized that it's very "bubble gum" favored. My boys both agreed as well. It was very sweet... really TOO sweet. It was good, but I happy it was only 6.7 oz because it was a lot of sugary goodness. It was OK, but just a bit too much sweetness. Between the fun way to open the bottle and the super sweet soda inside, this would be great for a kid... but not an adult.

Score: 4 out of 10.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Northern Soda Company's Orange Cream Root Beer

I still have 2 sodas left from my Father's Day variety pack. So I left the "best sounding" one for later, and tried this orange cream root beer:

Northern Soda Company's Orange Cream Root Beer

Brand: Northern Soda Company's Orange Cream Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: When I popped the top, I instantly smelled that smooth "orange cream" smell. And my first sip had a strong orange cream flavor. But then the rest of the sip was very much JUST "root beer." It was almost odd how separate the flavors were. But it wasn't BAD, it was just unusual how the different flavors hit. It's a tasty orange cream flavor followed by a very basic (but creamy and smooth) root beer flavor. Honestly, I liked it a whole lot more than I thought I would.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Brigham's Brew Cream Soda

I opened this while cooking today:

Brigham's Brew Cream Soda

Brand: Brigham's Brew Cream Soda.

Origin: Salt Lake City, Utah.

Purchase Place: Harmon's, Utah.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was another soda sent to me from some friends last month. It had been waiting in the fridge for a quiet weekend after some busy ones. This smelled very creamy... if that's a possible smell. And it WAS creamy and sweet - almost TOO sweet (which means something coming from me). But it had that really deep, smooth, cream soda flavor that was quite good. If you like sweet sweet things and like a hard hit of classic cream soda, then you'll like this! But if you like more "adult" and subtly-flavored cream sodas, this might be too much for you. I'll give this a pretty average score.

Score: 5.5 out of 10.

Monday, October 23, 2023

IT'SUGAR on Navy Pier

My family and I got back yesterday morning from 3 days in Chicago (see lots of photos in this post on my other blog), and we found a store called "IT'SUGAR" (not misspelled) on Navy Pier. It turns out there's one locally in Mall of America as well, so I might have to stop in sometime. It had... well... lots of sugar, including some fun sodas:


Some fun sodas in one section.

I only purchased one thing there, and it wasn't soda. They had "Cow Tales" that my family and I enjoy, but they had OREO Cow Tales which we'd never tried. They were good, but none of us could really tell any difference from REGULAR Cow Tales, so we didn't really understand the point. Still a quick tasty treat!

Again, click here for more photos from our long-weekend Chicago trip.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Granny Tries Gross Sodas

Granny tries to find her beloved Pepsi:

If the embedded video doesn't work, you can find it on Facebook here.

And I've had the 3 "gross" sodas that she tried: click these links to see my reviews of Sweet Corn soda, Buffalo Wing soda, and Bacon soda.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Limited Edition Coca Cola Creations Y3000

Just after my last post about the Coca Cola that was "co-created with Artificial Intelligence," I happened to be walking through Target and found one by the checkout:

Coca Cola Creations Y3000


Brand: Limited Edition Coca Cola Creations Y3000.  

Origin: Atlanta, GA.

Purchase Place: Target, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Aspartame and Sucralose.

Review: I wasn't that excited to try this. As noted in my last post, people were saying it tasted like perfume or banana, and neither of those excited me. Also, I don't know what "Futuristic Flavored" means on the left side of the bottle... tastes like the apocalypse?

After my first sip, BOTH of those people were right: it started with a sharp/chemically perfume-like taste that was a bit overpowering, but then it ended with a sweeter banana-like flavor. That combo was quite odd. I didn't love it.

But then after I kept drinking, I started to like it more and more. And my boys were sipping on it with me, and they had the same reaction: it got better as we drank it. Maybe the negative thoughts clouded my first sips, but it wasn't as bad as we went on. I wouldn't say I LIKE it, but I DIDN'T DISLIKE it. I don't think I'll buy another bottle, but it was decent. 

Score: 5 out of 10.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Y3000 Coke... Created by AI??

Saw this on Instagram recently: 

I don't know about AI created soda. I'll have to see if I can find a bottle around here. But the thought of "creamed corn dipped in perfume" isn't making want to hurry out to find it...

Friday, September 29, 2023

Forty-Ninth State Brewing's Frontier Root Beer

I cracked right into this can shortly after my friends sent me some sodas in the mail:

Forty-Ninth State Brewing's Frontier Root Beer

Brand: Forty-Ninth State Brewing's Frontier Root Beer.

Origin: Anchorage, Alaska.

Purchase Place: Somewhere in Alaska.

Sweetener: Cane sugar and Alaskan honey.

Review: I was excited to try this. It had "Alaskan honey" listed as one of the sweeteners, but it was farther down the list - I took that as a good sign as I like a HINT of honey in my root beer. It also had "Madagascar vanilla beans" listed too, and that was also a great sign. The side of the can noted "This delightfully sweet and spicy libation, overflowing with notes of vanilla and honey, was molded after an old klondike gold miner's closely guarded root beer recipe."

This lived up to my expectations. It was smooth and creamy... but then it had a little bite at the end as well. It's a root beer that could please most anyone! True to my expectations, there was just a little hint of honey and not an overwhelming slap. And then there's a nice smooth vanilla finish to each sip. This was unique but not too "out there." A real good root beer!

Score: 9 out of 10.

Monday, September 25, 2023

New Sodas to Try!

My soda-loving-friends have sent me another stash of things to try! (They first sent me some Shaq sodas 10 years ago, then stopped by with more shortly after that, and finally stopped over last year with more goodies!) Here's what arrived in the mail last week:

Sodas in the mail!
A heavy box that was $20 to ship!

Sodas in the mail!
Well-wrapped goodies inside.

Sodas in the mail!
Some root beer from Alaska, another fun Zia to try, and a few kinds of "Brigham's Brews!"

The 2 cans are in the fridge already as I'm excited to try those. Back with a review shortly. Thanks T and Brandon!!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Northern Soda Company Butter Scotch Root Beer

I brought this to work with me earlier this week: 
Northern Soda Company Butter Scotch Root Beer

Brand: Northern Soda Company Butter Scotch Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This is another soda from my Father's Day variety pack my wife got me from the delicious Remix down the street (click here for a recent post about Remix, and click here for the first time I checked them out). I'm kind of torn on butterscotch flavored things: sometimes it feels too heavy and gross, but other times it's a nice and smooth addition. I tend to like it in a root beer when it's subtle.

But most "butterscotch root beers" aren't too subtle with the butterscotch. And this one was no exception. The butterscotch flavor is quite good and smooth and tasty, but it's just a bit too heavy for my taste. I can barely taste any "root beer" - it's generally just "butterscotch." It's not as extreme as some butterscotch root beers that I've had, but I still wish it was a bit lighter on the butterscotch. It wasn't horrible by any means, so I'll rank this right in the middle...

Score: 5 out of 10.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Babe Ruth Cola

I opened this while making supper tonight:

Babe Ruth Cola.


Brand: Babe Ruth Cola.

Origin: Reno, NV.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: Not surprisingly, "Babe Ruth" soda is made by funky "Rocket Fizz" - they make random funny sodas. There was no indication on the label about what would make this different or special as a cola, just that it "tastes like 714 home runs." Mmmmm-kay...

It ended up being pretty decent. It has that rich/sweet kola nut/fruity flavor of a good cola, only it was a bit stronger in this one compared to what I'm used to. And that's not a good or bad thing: it tasted good, but I didn't know if I liked it more or less because it was so strong. If you like a "strong" cola, give this a shot!

Score: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Northern Soda Company Bing Cherry Root Beer

I was excited to try this one from the variety pack my wife got me:

Northern Soda Company Bing Cherry Root Beer

Brand: Northern Soda Company Bing Cherry Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I was excited for this one, and it didn't disappoint! This was pretty unique and really tasty! The cherry flavor is a bit "soft" and "creamy," and it's quite good. It's not a strong cherry flavor, and that works really nicely here. And then that cherry flavor transitions into a smooth and tasty root beer. This meld of flavors works really well - they found a cherry flavor to compliment their root beer. This was fun!

Score: 9 out of 10.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Spring Grove Soda Pop on TV at the MN State Fair

My boys and I stopped by the MN State Fair on opening day. We HAD to get a cup of Spring Grove Soda Pop:

Spring Grove Soda Pop at the MN State Fair
We shared a cup of Black Cherry.

Just a few days ago, Spring Grove Soda Pop was interviewed on a local TV program. Check out their interview below:

(In case the embedded video above doesn't work, here's a link to the KSTP video on their website.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Lotte Milkis Banana

I grabbed this from an Asian grocery store that I stopped at recently with my boys:

Lotte Milkis Banana


Brand: Lotte Milkis Banana.

Origin: Korea.

Purchase Place: Shuang Hur Supermarket, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was a cute little 8.45 oz can. I didn't know what to expect from it. I was a little scared. This drink was a bit milky, and "powdered skim milk" was the 4th ingredient (after water, sugar, and carbon dioxide)... and I assume that's why it's called MILKis. 

As far as the taste: it wasn't bad! It didn't REALLY taste like banana, but more like banana-flavored things. It was like a liquid version of a banana Runt candy (remember those?!?) with carbonation. It was good, but a little odd, so I'll give it an average score. A fun thing to try in a small can.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Tiny Coke Zero

On our flight back from Italy a week ago (when my wife and I were on an anniversary trip of a lifetime), I was offered this 100 ml can of Coke Zero:

Tiny Coke Zero!

100 ml is about 3.4 oz! Look at how big the carbonation bubbles are in the cup compared to the can. This thing was minuscule! (And adorable.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2023


This past weekend, my wife and I got back from a 10-day trip to Italy! Here's a soda found in our mind-fridge of our hotel in Rome that I tried:



Brand: Mirinda.

Origin: Milanofiori, Milan, Italy.

Purchase Place: Unknown (found in mini-fridge of Hotel Artemide)

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This was pretty OJ heavy, even though it only contained 4% orange juice (the ingredients label noted "succo d'arancai (4%)" after water and sugar). It tasted like a lemon-lime soda with OJ added. That's about it! It was simple and refreshing, and surprisingly only 4% OJ. Tasty and simple, so I'll rank this just barely above average.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

A-Treat Draft Style Birch Beer

This had been sitting in my fridge for a while, and I finally opened it:

A-Treat Draft Style Birch Beer

Brand: A-Treat Draft Style Birch Beer.

Origin: Orefield, PA.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: Something about the kind of bland logo made me less excited to try this. But the first sip changed that pretty quickly! This was a real solid soda! I often don't care for birch beers, but this one tasted a lot like root beer - I mean... many of them do, but this one didn't disappoint. It's a bit heavy on the wintergreen (not TOO heavy) and it goes down smooth. A surprisingly fun soda! 

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Trying Weird Coke Flavors

Rhett and Link recently tried some odd Coke flavors. I've tried 2 of these so far, posted HERE and HERE.

Direct link:

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Northern Soda Company Toasted Pecan Root Beer

I opened my 2nd soda from my "root beer variety pack" earlier today:

Northern Soda Company Toasted Pecan Root Beer
In front of goodies from our garden.

Brand: Northern Soda Company Toasted Pecan Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I swore that I've had this before, but I found no record of it on this blog. So I was going in for the first time. And it was good! It really wasn't much like root beer, though. It was very sugary and sweet. The pecan flavor was strong and pretty spot-on: it tasted like a pecan pie. A very sweet pecan pie with a lot of butterscotch notes as well. Again, there's not much of a root beer flavor to this as it's more of a "sweet pecan/butterscotch soda" instead of a "toasted pecan root beer," but it's still very tasty!

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Class Action Lawsuit Against A&W

If you've had an A&W in the past few years, you're entitled to compensation.

People who bought an A&W root beer or cream soda product with a "Made With Aged Vanilla" label between February 2016 and June 2023 may be eligible for a cut of a $15 million settlement the beverage maker must pay after a court decision.

The rebate results from a class-action lawsuit claiming A&W Concentrate Co. and Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., which makes the drinks, misled consumers by labeling products as being "Made With Aged Vanilla" when the vanilla taste is created by using artificial flavoring.

You have a chance to be reimbursed between $5.50 and $25.

Monday, July 17, 2023

A Homemade Blackberry Soda from Cold Front

After one of my son's soccer games, we stopped at Cold Front for some treats:

Cold Front in St. Paul
My boys with their cones.

Cold Front in St. Paul

Cold Front in St. Paul
My blackberry soda that the jerk whipped up for me.

Cold Front in St. Paul
Sipping on my blackberry soda.

Brand: Blackberry Soda at Cold Front.

Origin: St. Paul, MN.

Purchase Place: Cold Front, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Unknown.

Review: As I find with most "homemade" sodas, this was very crisp with lots of carbonation. The blackberry was sweet and fruity, and it had a juice-like quality to it - that made it a little less soda-like, but it was still very good. It was a great end to an afternoon at a soccer game.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Zero Sugar Lemon Lime Starry

I've been seeing this around lately (a "rebrand" of Sierra Mist), and I grabbed one on a walk around the neighborhood with my son recently:

Zero Sugar Lemon Lime Starry
On the back wall of Marshall Stop.

Brand: Zero Sugar Lemon Lime Starry.

Origin: Purchase, NY.

Purchase Place: Marshall Stop, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Aspartame.

Review: I didn't need to try this. It was a pretty generic lemon lime soda. Sure, it *WAS* good, but it wasn't doing anything different from 7Up, Sprite, Sierra Mist (what it replaced), etc. It's just another decent lemon lime soda. It's a lot like a 7Up, but just slightly sweeter (which I guess is pretty impressive for it being a 10 calorie drink). I like lemon lime sodas, and I liked this... I just wish it was trying something new.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Black Bear Root Beer

My wife was walking through Menards last week and picked up a 4-pack of these for me:

Black Bear Root Beer

Brand: Black Bear Root Beer.

Origin: Glendale, WI.

Purchase Place: Menards, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Glucose Syrup.

Review: This is a different "label" from the Sprecher brand - it's made by them. The label is very simple, nearly laughably plain (look at the "root beer" text at the top and how the "12 FL OZ" is oddly placed within that orange-ish stripe at the bottom.

But onto the flavor: it's decent. It's nothing too special, and it's a bit heavy with a caramel aftertaste. It's pretty smooth with a little hint of wintergreen, but then there's the caramel flavor that's a bit too much. Not bad, but not great. A decent root beer.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Freddie's Old Fashioned Root Beer

I grabbed this bottle from a cute little store on a mountain biking trip with my boys:

Freddie's Old Fashioned Root Beer
On the ice cream freezer in Victual.

Brand: Freddie's Old Fashioned Root Beer.

Origin: Frankfort, KY.

Purchase Place: Victual, Crosby, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Sweetener and/or Cane Sugar.

Review: This was OK. The initial sip is very "classic" and has a pretty deep flavor, but then there's an extra cinnamon-like aftertaste that just isn't QUITE right. It was decent and smooth, but not my favorite. I'll give this a pretty average score. (See more from my mountain biking trip up north in this post.)

Score: 5.5 out of 10.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Northern Soda Company Root Beer

I just HAD to start with the "normal" root beer from my "root beer variety pack" that I just got for Father's Day:

Northern Soda Company Root Beer

Brand: Northern Soda Company Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I've had this one before, but I made it a point to NOT look back at my old review before trying this again. When I first took a sip, it had a nice, classic root beer flavor that was immediately followed by a pretty strong brown sugar flavor. The brown sugar flavor was nice and a bit unexpected. It was unique and quite good.

So now that I've tried it (again), I looked back to my old review from 3 years ago. I described the aftertaste as "cherry-like" back then, but now I would stick to my thoughts of it being more "brown sugar-like." Interesting. I don't know if it's me or their recipe that has changed. Either way, I gave it the same score now as I did then, so my feelings are consistent!

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Pepsi Ketchup?

This is NOT a late April Fools Joke...

Pepsi Ketchup

Yes, Pepsi posted that on their Facebook page this week. It's real. And I could try it in a few days at a Minnesota Twins game if I'd like. Color me intrigued...

Monday, June 26, 2023

Vodka Spritz Fresca Mixed Grapefruit Citrus: a 'Hard' Fresca

My sister-in-law handed me one of these when we were on a family camping trip recently:

Vodka Spritz Fresca Mixed Grapefruit Citrus: a 'Hard' Fresca

Brand: Fresca Mixed Grapefruit Citrus.

Origin: Daleville, VA.

Purchase Place: Unknown (somewhere in SW WI).

Sweetener: Unknown (I can't stand alcohol labels with how much they don't have to have on it).

Review: This was dangerous. It was crisp and refreshing like a Fresca... like a non-alcoholic Fresca. You could easily have too many of these! It tastes like a regular Fresca with just a SLIGHT bite of alcohol. Fresca is already one of those sodas that could mix will with booze, and they're doing it well with this drink. If you're interested in any of what I'm writing here, you'll be happy if you grab a few of these!

Score: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

A 'Root Beer Variety Pack'

When we stopped by Remix for some shave ice, I noted that I spotted a variety pack of root beer. Well my wife grabbed it as an extra Father's Day present for me:

Northern Soda Root Beer Variety Pack
The "variety pack" on our counter!

Northern Soda Root Beer Variety Pack
The 6 sodas inside. (The "regular" root beer has a printed can, but the rest are stickers on a plain can.)

I'll be back with reviews on all of these over the next few weeks! I can't wait!