Some brands thrive, other brands die, and yet others die then come back to life. Such is the case with Pop Shoppe, a soda brand that went flat, fizzled out, etc., in the 1980s, then was brought back from the dead in the mid-2000s.
They’ve started carrying some flavours at my local Calgary Co-op, so I grabbed a four-pack of a variety that looked interesting: Got the Blues Raspberry. My earliest memory of blue raspberry flavouring comes from Dairy Queen’s Mister Misty drink, a poor, watery imitation of the Slurpee that never did much of anything for me. While the Misty was invariably a disappointment – “Why can’t we just go to 7-Eleven?” – the blue raspberry flavour made it almost bearable.
The Pitch: They’re pitching these as a premium soda with a premium price. They’re made with real sugar, and they want you to know it. From the box: “This soda pop is going to change your life.” From the website, this meaningless bafflegab: “Grab your guitar and go find a porch. Because when you open a can of this intense new flavour, you might be inspired to strum a ditty. This drink is a whole bunch of notes wrapped up in one pretty blue colour. Don’t play guitar? Well in theory it’s never too late to start.”
The Look: Nice design that’s both retro and modern, a throwback to the old Pop Shoppe brand with some updating. While the cans are 355 mL, they’re careful to use a different shape than regular, garden-variety pop cans, so as to avoid too much price comparison. The drink is an otherworldly shade of crystal-clear blue. Do I say it? Sure. The closest colour reference point I can think of is anti-freeze. It would be a shame to drink it straight from the can.
The Taste: Blue raspberry! How the hell do you describe the taste of blue raspberry to someone who’s never had it? Well, it’s nothing like raspberry. It’s mostly just uninterrupted sweetness with berryish notes (emphasis on the ish), a closer relation to cotton candy than anything that came from a garden. The pop pours a stunning blue, and a rush of blue bubbles gather on top. The real sugar lends it a round, mouth-filling sweetness. True fact: while this instantly brought me back to memories of Mister Misty, it also reminds me of something between Crystal Pepsi and Pepsi Blue. As both no longer exist, I can only compare against my memory.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: About $3.50 or $4 for a four-pack of 355 mL cans at Calgary Co-op. They were on sale when I bought them.
Value for cash money: Meh. Compared to, say, 12-packs of pop at the grocery store? Terrible. Compared to a pop machine? Fine. They’re aiming at the premium market, so we’re all supposed to cut them some pricing slack.
Nutrition?: Per can (355 mL): 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 20 mg of sodium, 0 grams of protein.
The verdict: I adore this pop. The brand and the flavour are all nostalgia, but it’s a nice option to have. I’m convinced that most pop is currently far too cheap, which promotes overconsumption. If we all had a bit less and savoured what we drank a bit more, we’d probably all be better off.