If there’s one thing I love more than anything else on the planet, it’s got to be poutine. French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds—is there anything that is worse for you, but also so damn good at the same time? Its unhealthiness actually makes it even more appealing. It’s like the secret ingredient, along with the main three, is danger, as in what you’re putting your heart into every time you eat it.
It was probably only a matter of time, then, before someone tried to take all that dangerous goodness and put it into liquid form. Score one for Seattle-based Jones Soda, which has done precisely that.
Poutine Soda is the company’s newest concoction, meant to celebrate its Canadian roots and to boost its profile in its native land. I came by a couple of bottles over the weekend and gave it a try. So what’s the verdict? Oh yes, it is absolutely horrible.
Now, before I crucify the soda, it’s worth pointing out that many non-Canadians find the idea of poutine itself to be disgusting. Fries with gravy are just fine, but what to make of cheese curds? It’s not the sort of cheese people generally eat, and the idea of ingesting a by-product is usually pretty off-putting. Of course, like any red-blooded Canadian probably already knows, it usually only takes a few bites to discover that poutine is in fact awesome.
So, I came at Poutine Soda with the same sort of trepidation. I’d heard it was gross, but I kept an open mind and was willing to be surprised. With the wife looking on, I cracked open a bottle and took a swig.
It didn’t take long to mentally separate real poutine from the soda version. While the food causes a sort of warm happiness to spread across my taste buds, the soda did anything but. It wasn’t quite so instantly repulsive that I had to spit it out, but it was bad enough that I had to stop and think about what I was doing.
My first reaction was that it tasted like liquified potato chips, but then I thought, no, it’s worse than that. It’s like liquified potato chips mixed with cardboard, plus maybe a hint of mustard. I took another sip to be sure, and that was about it for me. It was maybe the worst-tasting thing I’d ever drank (and I experimented quite a bit with making my own booze shots back in university).
The wife witnessed all this, including my wincing grimace, but it wasn’t enough to discourage her from trying it. Her reaction after one sip, though, was similar. “Oh yeah, that’s nasty,” she said, which struck me as a potential marketing tagline for the drink.
Either way, it’s a genius move: Poutine Soda—how can any Canadian not want to try it? I’d like to meet the person who is able to actually drink a whole bottle, but in terms of raising people’s curiosity about the brand, it’s as smart a play as I’ve seen.
I’d never actually heard of Jones Soda prior to this whole debacle. It turns out the company started as a drink distributor in Western Canada, then shifted into actually producing its own products in the mid-90s. Jones has been making a name for itself over the last little while by releasing stunt drinks, such as turkey-and-gravy-flavoured soda.
Jones has a slew of actually tasty products, such as cream soda and bubblegum-flavoured pop, which they thankfully sent me to chase the Poutine Soda. If anything, the marketing has worked on me. Now I know who Jones Soda is—that company that tried to poison me with a horrible drink—which is kind of endearing, in a way.