Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Inotea Brown Sugar Bubble Tea

I grabbed this while shopping with my son at Aldi recently:

Inotea Brown Sugar Bubble Tea



Brand: Inotea Brown Sugar Bubble Tea.

Origin: Newark, NJ.

Purchase Place: Aldi, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar and Brown Sugar.

Review: The tea was quite good! I shared a sip with my boys, and they both loved it. It was what I'd expect from a boba tea store when I order a "Milk Tea" or anything along those lines.  (One store near us calls it a "Royal Tea Latte" even though it doesn't have any coffee flavor.) I had no complaints about the tea!

But the tapioca pearls were another story. They were kind of pasty and hard. They weren't "chewy" in a good way, but in a bad way. They almost wanted to disintegrate when bit down on, but only after a fair amount of force. I like tapioca pearls, but apparently they need to be fresh. The drink ("pre-pearls") would have earned about an 8.5, but I had to knock it down after having the pearls. 

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Wild Bill's Root Beer

Last night, I cracked into my first soda from the Grandpa Joe's grand opening a few weeks back:

Wild Bill's Root Beer
Cool skinny "wrapped" can.



Brand: Wild Bill's Root Beer.

Origin: Millington, NJ.

Purchase Place: Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: Maybe it was just the fancy can that "woo-ed" me, but this was good from the first sip. It wasn't trying too hard to be something new - it was just good. It had a bit of an herby bite, but not too much. It had the perfect amount of sweetness, and the flavor was decent - it MAYBE could have had a bit stronger flavor. All-in-all, a very good root beer! I'm excited to try more "Wild Bill" sodas from Grandpa Joes!

Score: 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Coca Cola "Spiced"

My wife picked this up for me recently:

Coca Cola "Spiced"

 

Brand: Coca Cola "Spiced"

Origin: Atlanta, GA.

Purchase Place: Target, Minneapolis, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: It smells like Christmas in a mall near a Yankee Candle store... not IN the store, but just NEAR the store when you get a hint of aroma in the air. And it tastes similar. There's a slight cinnamon flavor to this, as well as like a "Christmas spice." It's not bad. I don't get a ton of "raspberry" flavor even though that's what is says at the bottom of the can: "Raspberry Spiced Coke & Other Natural Flavors." If a slightly cinnamon version of Coke with a hint of generic Christmas spice sounds good to you, then give this a try. It was better than I thought it was going to be!

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Grand Opening at "Grandpa Joe's" (formerly Blue Sun Soda)

My son and I just got back from the north metro because we HAD to check out the Grand Opening of Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop! They purchased Blue Sun Soda in Spring Lake Park. They just announced it on Facebook 10 days ago, so a LOT has happened since then. 

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
A little bummed they painted over the mural out front.

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
It was HOPPIN' inside! Charlie was handed a sweet soda jerk hat when he walked in.

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
FUDGE! That's new!

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
This is where all the long aisles of soda used to be, and now it's all CANDY and GAMES! 

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
Some soda farther back.

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
I had to grab a "Wild Bill's" root beer, and Grandpa Joe's has some wild novelty flavors.

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
"Buy 5 Get 1 FREE." So I did!

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
This has been a big draw from social media: a $5 candy buffet!

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
More sodas near the register.

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
Soda fountain AND ice cream bar!

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
The bottler was up and running, and people could watch.

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
Back in the candy area. THEY STLL HAVE "BILLY THE SODA JERK" BACK THERE!
He was cracking people up, including my son. 

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
New hand-painted details by the door.

Grand Opening at Grandpa Joe's Candy Shop
This was by the checkout. I need to try these sometime.


I still have some Blue Sun sodas to try, so this might not be my last post with the Blue Sun Soda tag, but it's the first with the Grandpa Joe's tag! My son got a few boxes of candy, and I grabbed a six pack of assorted sodas (because the 6th was free). I can't wait to go back to snoop around more without a hundred other people there. They don't seem to have QUITE as much soda as before, but it's a better experience all around - super excited to take my oldest son there sometime as he couldn't make it tonight. We'll be back!

Check out Grandpa Joe's on Facebook to stay in the loop.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Big Red Soda

I didn't know what kind of soda this was... "big red" isn't much of a flavor description. But based the the tiny circle that says "so sweet - so smooth" on the label, I figured it might be cream soda-like.

Big Red Soda

 
Brand: Big Red Soda.

Origin: Plano, TX.

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

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: My hunch was right - it was like a red cream soda (and "red cream soda" is a thing). It was pretty sickly sweet. I LIKE sweet sodas, but this was a lot even for me. I think my wife would have recoiled at this. Honestly, I couldn't finish it. It was just TOO sweet. A bit chemically, and just too much - too sweet, too weird, no thanks.

Score: 3.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Root Beer Baby Back Ribs

If you click on my "Cooking with Soda" tag, you'll see I've often done pork roasts and/or beef roasts with Sprite or cola or root beer. But over the last year or 2, I've been using root beer to help finish off my pork rib recipe.  I start by following this recipe all the way through the dry rub and instant pot cooking (I'm not an instant pot freak, but I use it when it can be helpful).  But then when it says to finish under the broiler, I jump outside to my grill instead. 

I add some BBQ sauce and a little honey, and I get just a little char forming on both sides (I like just a little char). And then I douse it all in a little root beer.

Here was the scene last night when I did some ribs for supper:

Root Beer Baby Back Ribs
Root beer ready to help finish these ribs.

Pork Ribs with Root Beer
Pouring on a little extra sweetness.

Pork Ribs with Root Beer
Root beer pooling on the "bone" side of the ribs. It stayed nicely, and I closed the lid for a few minutes.

Pork Ribs with Root Beer
After grilling both sides, I wrapped it tight with foil and poured some extra root beer in there as well.

Pork Ribs with Root Beer
Back in the house, I opened it after 45 mins after it absorbed some juices/BBQ/root beer.
The dry rub is tasty, and the root beer adds to it! Ready to fall off the bone.

Pork Ribs with Root Beer
A meal of root beer ribs, cheesy garlic bread, jalapeƱo poppers, and apples. NICE!


My boys like this a lot too! We had 2.5 lbs of ribs, and we had 0 left overs.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Dr. Wells Soda

This had no "flavor" listed, so I assumed it was Dr. Pepper rip-off:
 
Dr. Wells Soda


Brand: Dr. Wells Soda.

Origin: Jasper, IN.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I was right. This is a lot like Dr. Pepper, just a bit worse. It really tastes similar, but just has an extra "artificial" flavor at the end that makes it not as great. It was OK... I'll rank this right in the middle.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Bacon Soda to the Extreme

Rhett and Link made an entire meal out of bacon. At about the 2:07 mark, they pulled out the bacon soda (which is gross by itself - see this post to read my review), but then they made is SO MUCH WORSE...



If the embedded video doesn't work, click here to watch it on Facebook


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Northern Soda Company's Vanilla Bean Root Beer

I opened this during class today:

Northern Soda Company's Vanilla Bean Root Beer

 

Brand: Northern Soda Company's Vanilla Bean Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was interesting from the first sip. Something about "vanilla bean" made me think it would be a bit smooth and creamy, but it wasn't - there's a slight sharpness to it. It made me pause, but it's not bad! There's also a slight fruitiness to it as well. This was very unique!

In the end, the "vanilla bean" flavor DOES come through, but not before a fruity flavor as well. At VERY first sip, I thought I wasn't going to like this, but even by the end of that first sip, I was on board. This is unique, both smooth and sharp, and has a great flavor.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Cokes Ranked

I don't necessarily agree with this listing (bottle beats can for me), but I agree there's a ranking!

Coca Cola Ranking

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Dublin Texas Founder's Recipe Cola

I brought this to work with me this morning:

Dublin Texas Founder's Recipe Cola

 
Brand: Dublin Texas Founder's Recipe Cola

Origin: Dublin, Texas.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This had a deep, rich flavor from the first sip! There was a unique sweetness to this, and then I realized it was the "cinnamon flavoring" in the ingredients list - it had a very smooth and rich cinnamon flavor (not like a sharp "red hot" flavor, but like deep baking cinnamon taste). A bit unique, and quite good. I enjoyed this!

Score: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Whirly Pop Juicy Grape Soda

I opened this between classes today:
Whirly Pop Juicy Grape Soda


Brand: Whirly Pop Juicy Grape Soda.

Origin: San Bernardino, CA.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: This was both pompus and child-like at the same time. The first ingredient was "carbonated artesian spring water" (which I've seen before, but not in a drink that seems really marketed towards kids), but there's a big kid-friendly lollipop on the front of the label. So it seems it's somewhere between being marketed to adults who want fancy ingredients (at least "fancy sounding") and kids with it's fun label.

Anyway, on to the flavor. It's not GREAT. It's not the strongest or the sweetest grape flavor - which I think means that even though there's a big lolli on the front, it seems to be marketed to adults. The flavor is a little fake and off. Not great, especially for a grape soda (which I think is a hard soda to screw up).

Score: 4 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Bigga Orange Soda

My family recently got back from Jamaica, and this was in the fridge of our hotel room:

Bigga Orange Soda
On our hotel balcony with the waterpark in the background.

 

Brand: Bigga Orange Soda.

Origin: Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Purchase Place: Unknown (came in our hotel fridge in Riu Ocho Rios).

Sweetener: Cane Sugar and Sucralose.

Review: This was very sweet! And not in an overpowering way. It had a bit of a crispness/sharpness to it that was classic and tasty. Nothing wrong with this! Just a decent orange soda!

Score: 7.5 out of 10.


Thursday, January 11, 2024

Baumeister Vanilla Cream Soda

I've enjoyed Baumeister sodas over the years, so I had high hopes for this:

Baumeister Vanilla Cream Soda

 
Brand: Baumeister Vanilla Cream Soda.

Origin: Green Bay, WI.

Purchase Place: Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This soda was very sweet and tasty like some other Baumeister sodas that I've had. Both the VANILLA and the CREAM were intense - I don't know that I've had a strong vanilla flavor in a soda before. And it wasn't too much - it was really nice. It was creamy and smooth and went down easy. It was quite sweet and I'd feel overly sugared-out if I were to have more than 1 bottle of this, but the flavor was nice and JUST ON THE VERGE of being too much.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Freeze-Dried Candy: Coming Soon to Remix?

I stopped into Remix on Marshall Ave in St. Paul just before Christmas to get some popcorn goodies for my parents. The owner saw me and gave me a few new treats to try:

Freeze Dried Candy from Remix


These are all freeze-dried candy! They are NOT for sale yet as the owner is still "perfecting" her strategy on making these. She gave them to me so my boys could try them!

The 2 on the left are both Skittles (one plain and one sour). The middle tub is Jolly Ranchers - they are big and airy and puffy and dissolve QUICKLY in your mouth, but taste JUST like Jolly Ranchers! And I think the ones on the right are Sprees. 

They are all very good and very unique! I took them home to try with my extended family over Christmas, and they were all enjoyable!

So look for these new menu items coming soon to Remix: 2042 Marshall Ave, St Paul, MN 55104. Open Wed-Sun, 12-5 pm, and until 6 pm on Saturday. Check out their shave ice if you haven't yet.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Gold Mine Root Beer

My boys and I spent 2 nights in a camper cabin at Afton State Park recently, and I brought a big bottle of root beer to share on our first evening there:

Ready for some root beer while playing Catan.

Gold Mine Root Beer
Large 22 oz wax-sealed bottle.

Gold Mine Root Beer
A nice detail on the side label: 5 of these will get you 1 free root beer.

Gold Mine Root Beer
I cut off the "bottom" of the wax seal before taking a few stabs at taking off the cap with my son's multi-tool.
       

Brand: Gold Mine Root Beer.

Origin: Camarillo, CA.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: We didn't know if this would be "fancy" as I remember it being a bit more expensive (and not just like twice as expensive because it's about twice the volume of a normal bottle). It didn't taste fancy, but it was pretty solid! It wasn't very smooth and creamy, but instead it was a root beer with a decent amount of "bite" to it. It wasn't exceptional, but it was a decent and tasty root beer, so I'll rank it just above average.

Score: 7 out of 10.