I am, if nothing else, unfailingly vulnerable to novelty. That's my excuse when I admit that I walked the aisles of Kroger (known to Heights denizens as the "Kroger with the bar" on 11th Street) and barely gave a moment's thought to the possibility of not buying both of the 99-cent gallons of holiday soda on display. It sounded gross and I wanted it.
In fact, I really struggled not to crack open a warm bottle of Cinna-Roll (because the word "cinnamon" is too weighty) in the car and start chugging. But I used my very best powers of emotional intelligence and waited until work the next day. I shoved both of my purchases in the fridge (I'm hospitable like that) and invited my colleagues to partake in a tasting.
The results will not surprise you at all. I suggested that we start with the Cinna-Roll because Candy Cane soda is obviously a palate cleanser.
I was expecting something like root beer. It was not like root beer. As Houstonia art director Monica Fuentes put it: "The cinnamon bun soda actually REALLY had the CB essence going on." Is that a good or bad thing? Custom publications editor Laura Furr Mericas noted, "I would have loved this soda as a 10-year-old, when I would eat four Pillsbury cinnamon rolls every Friday morning and lick the remaining icing out of the plastic can." But she, like the rest of us, could only manage a few sips of the sticky-sweet stuff. Points added for excellent flavor masquerading, but just as many deducted for the taste of encroaching diabetes.
I enjoyed about two sips, but made it to three or four of the candy cane. Monica likened it to weak mouthwash, but I was more charitable—it really did remind me of holiday ribbon candy. Laura was even more severe than Monica, saying that it conjured "the feeling when you’ve just brushed your teeth or eaten a mint and then drink cold water, but in a less refreshing and more turn-your-stomach-upside-down kind of way." Ouch.
But associate editor Morgan Kinney, evil genius that he is, tried combining the pair. Usually two wrongs don't make a right. This time, they did. "We were this close to unlocking the secret recipe to…Mr. Pibb?" Morgan joked. Indeed, the synthesis of sodas resulted in something that tasted strikingly like off-brand cola. But, honestly, if your goal is low-grade cola, you don't really have to take the mix-your-own route. Just buy some RC. Or, God forbid, Tab. My vote is to make Tab the official soda of Christmas. But if you're curious, there's always Kroger.