Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jonesin For Meat Soda

I want to do a quick stopgap in between the blog I just finished (Saturday Morning Cartoon…….ads) and my next blog entry (The Krull Obsession) and spend just a couple paragraphs explaining why I hate Jones Soda.

It was, in 2005, I read this article on (  Take a look at it if you like but please, ever so briefly, as not to spoil your blog appetite. 

As a quick aside, I love  Blogger Matt…..whose last name remains a mystery, at least to me…..runs through all of the late 80s/early 90s shit I remember fondly in a very comical manner and has been doing so in a consistently grand manner since 2002.  He was my inspiration to start my own blog, and I can only aspire to his level of greatness.  I encourage all four of my readers to check out his site thoroughly (at a later date).  And make sure you mention me in his comments somewhere.  No really.  I need some more readers to boost my ego.

Anyway, this article led me to go out and purchase “the pack” in 2005 from a local Target.  And what a collection it was.  Soda mocked up to taste like Turkey and Gravy, Wild Herb Stuffing, Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Sauce and, for dessert, Pumpkin Pie! 

This delicacy (or monstrosity) was the focus of my Christmas party that year.  Friends were invited, adult beverages were ingested, Monkey Ball on the Gamecube was played, and Tony Bennett’s Christmas Album “Snowfall” was on a constant loop.  And then I laid out shot glasses for everybody, and poured in the seasonal treats.

I chilled the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, but served the others warm.  I assure you, dear reader(s), these sodas carried with them flavors nearly indistinguishable to their more accepted solid brethren.   Lest you think they don’t really taste like what they claim, I actually witnessed a man vomit after taking a shot of the Brussels Sprouts flavored soda.  I swear, there was even a hint of butter in there.  The actual soda, that is.  Not his vomit.

This particular batch was the “national” version.  But Jones Soda went above and beyond, and also released a second limited batch available only in certain regions.  It had the aforementioned Turkey and Gravy, along with Corn on the Cob, Broccoli Casserole, and Pecan Pie.  This was the real gem, and I spent many an hour perusing the aisles of all the possible nearby outlets to no avail.  Why was this my Holy Grail?  My Ark of the Covenant?  My Elora Danan?  Because it also included a bottle of Smoked Salmon Pate.  And if ever I wanted to taste anything in a liquidated, lightly-carbonated form, it was the robust smokiness of pureed fish.  I still come upon this particular package on EBAY, but I’m not sure even I’m brave enough to drink six year old fish-flavored soda.

In 2006 they released another, Turkey and Gravy, Sweet Potato, Dinner Roll, Pea and Antacid.  The also released a “dessert” package, Cherry, Banana Cream, Key Lime, Apple, and Blueberry pies.  I had both of these, and they were worth every penny.

In 2007 came both “Christmas” and “Chanukah” sets.  Ham, Christmas Tree, Egg Nog and Sugar Plum for Christmas, Latke, Applesauce, Chocolate Coins and Jelly Doughnut for Chanukah.   I missed both sets this year, as they were released around the time I was making a move to a new city.

And then it happened.  The well ran dry. 

2008 brought Candy Cane, Pear Tree, and Mele Kalikimaka, which is pineapple and coconut.  All these, well, they sound like regular, sugary sodas.  Where’s the fun in that?  In 2009 they released Tofurkey and Gravy, which I can only assume tasted exactly like Turkey and Gravy.  And that’s it.  One soda.  Of all the lazy, no good…

In general, since 2006, lazy is, unfortunately, what comes to mind when I think of Jones Soda.  Whenever I go to their website which, quite frankly, is once a year around the holidays to check and see if they are finally releasing (or re-releasing) a holiday pack, I am always angered to the point of derision.  Usually this derision takes place in my head.  Unfortunately my head has become so filled with derisive commentary I am fairly sure if I do not unleash some contempt in written form, my head will explode, David Cronenberg style.  Oh, you know what I’m talking about…

Here’s the thing.  If you click on “limited editions,” which I want to be the meat of the site (pun fully intended), you get garbage.  And, even worse, lazy garbage.  The kind of garbage even a hobo shrugs his shoulders at in utter discontent.

I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I clicked on the “limited edition” Buffy-inspired 6-pack they have available.  The flavors?  Blue Bubblegum, Rootbeer, FuFu Berry, Orange and Cream, Green Apple, and Grape.

So, really, what you’re saying is you took a bunch of the flavors you already make, and just slapped stickers on them with some generic frames you stole directly from the season 8 comic book with no creativity and no regard as to how the flavors might reflect the personalities of the characters.  Even the names are generic.  “Buffy’s Blue Bubblegum?” “Willow’s Green Apple Witch’s Brew?” “Xander’s Strawberry Lime Elixir?”  Is this marketed to twelve-year-olds?  That show was dark, friends.  Buffy died, Xander’s eye got poked out, Willow considered destroying the world after her lesbian lover was killed, Dawn wasn’t even real and Giles was eventually treated as an inept alcoholic old man with no purpose.

Let’s all drink some FUFU Berry!  YAY!  Shit sounds more like Pokemon flavors.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert and all that.

Every limited edition on their website follows the same pattern.  The Onion limited edition? Strawberry Lime, Root Beer and Green Apple.  Dungeons and Dragons? Grape, Sugar Free Black Cherry, Cream, Root Beer, Cola and Green Apple. 


Hell, Mountain Dew has better crossovers than that!  Warcraft Game Fuel anybody?
How about Halloween themed?
Even these bottles simply designed by a group of artists are infinitely more interesting:

I understand there is probably a pretty small niche audience for soda tasting like meat, but said audience must be voracious, and I can’t imagine they wouldn’t lap up enough of that shit up to make it worth Jones’ time and money, at least every other year if nothing else. 

This year they are releasing another batch of sugary-sweet treats – Candy Cane, Ginger Bread, Sugar Plum and Pear Tree.  It seems odd to me this quartet would illicit any sort of reaction outside of an unenthused “meh,” but I can only suppose the good people at Jones know better than I.

So while I wait for Jones to step up and make a Holiday Pack including Meatloaf, Carrots, Mac ‘N Cheese and Sweet Potato Pie (with maybe a miniature bottle of Reddi Wip as a novelty?), I guess I will simply have to use my Sodastream drink maker to carbonate water and then drop in a cube of beef bouillion.  And maybe a touch of gravy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Saturday Morning, 80s Style

I was recently paging through an old issue of Power Man & Iron Fist when I stumbled upon an advertisement for Go-Bots. This, in and of itself, isn’t very peculiar, but this particular advert was for Go-Bot MODELS. Yeah, who wants to play with the Go-Bots since, in all fairness, they are really lame toys, when you can put them together from scratch with your own two hands! I can only imagine it as truly rapturous, and hopefully I can find one that doesn’t figure this rare, transcendent experience in to the price tag.

But this isn’t about Go-Bots. No, not just yet. That’s a different article for a different time, after I’ve culled through about 20 more issues of “Master of Kung-Fu” for more entertaining ads. No, this is about Saturday Morning Cartoons.

It was while paging through some old comics I stumbled upon a plethora of Saturday Morning advertisements. And I believe they tell quite a tale. Here’s the ad from 83 for NBC. Oh, don't forget, dear reader, all these pics can be blown up with but a click.  Looks at this line-up! Shirt Tales, Mr. T, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Spider-Man (and his somewhat less amazing friends), and let’s not forget Saturday Morning stalwarts The Smurfs. I remember all of these, so I must have been glued to NBC when I was 6.

Because I also found this monstrosity from ABC…

Monchhichis? The Puppy’s Further Adventures? A cartoon based on the RUBIK’S CUBE?! That’s cool. If he hangs out with his buddies Slinky and Hungry Hungry Hippo. But from what I can gather from the intro, he escapes from a gypsy and befriends three Mexican children. Sounds like a formula for success. I can only assume he helps them solve the growing pains and cultural prejudices associated with being an adolescent in America. Or maybe he just speaks in riddles and makes them fly. I couldn’t bear watching a whole episode to find out.

Oh and, lest we forget, the theme was sung by non-other than MENUDO! Looks, their banner is right there at the bottom of the page! You know what I remember about Menudo? Absolutely nothing. Just like all the cartoons from this line-up.

The next ad is a CBS ad from 1984. The 84 ad from NBC is here, if you are so inclined to look at it, but with the exception of the first appearance of the Snorks, it’s wholly unincredible. But this fellow, boy howdy is he a gem:

Richard Pryor? Richard Pryor? That’s who you're gonna go with as a spokesperson for your Saturday Cartoon block? They couldn’t find another 80s comedian to do a half hour show he was probably only contractually obligated to appear in for 10 minutes per episode? I guess Dan Akroyd was too busy starring in gems like Dr. Detroit. Besides, he ain't hard enough to rep motherfucking POLE POSITION!

I guess it’s fine. Foul mouthed comedians can be for the kids too. Hell, everybody loves Daddy Day Care, right? It’s all fine and good until Little Jimmy wants to know who would win in a fight between Batman and this guy:

And who did they get for the theme song? Ray Parker Jr.! Now that’s classic.
It starts out with a close up of a little white boy shining someone’s shoes, then pans up ultra-dramatically to show *gasp* it’s a black man! Get in where you fit in whitey! I would say it’s not on purpose, and if the pan would have revealed, say, Lionel Richie or Michael Jackson or Luther Vandross or, hell, even Billy Ocean, you might just think it for surprise value. But when it’s Ray Parker Jr. nobody gives a shit, not even in 1984.

Regardless of socio-political overtones, that is some pretty damned smooth 1980s R&B. Outside of the “Ghostbusters” theme song, I know nothing about the man. Ray Parker Jr. may have just sold himself a copy of “Sex and the Single Man.” Or maybe I will just have him come to my house and perform it for me. Whichever is cheaper.

Also take notice of the Saturday Supercade. Donkey Kong, Q-Bert, Space Ace and……………..Kangaroo? I mean, look, I remember Kangaroo but……Kangaroo? Nobody was pumping quarters in to Kangaroo with Centipede sitting right next to it. And what about Space Invaders or Mario Bros. or Galaga or Frogger or Pooyan? Yeah, in my world Pooyan ranks higher than Kangaroo. Pigs with blowdarts who shoot wolves attached to helium-filled balloons? That pig is a lot more bad-ass than a boxing kangaroo.

Outside of Muppet Babies, which I remember fondly as my favorite Saturday Cartoon, I don’t remember viewing too much here. I probably watched Muppet Babies, then switched it back to NBC, where they had Snorks, Smurfs, and Spidey. The three Saturday S’s probably trumped the three R’s in my formative years way more than they should have. But watching cartoons also led to critical thinking. Like how did creatures three apples high live inside mushrooms? One word: Magic.

There was nothing interesting in the next few as far as I can tell, but here they are anyway.

I remember a few of them fondly (Gummy Bears, Alf) some vaguely (Kidd Video, Wuzzles)and some not at all (Kissy and Foo-fur?) but the ads themselves are fairly nondescript, with my favorite being the 85 ad, making use of both a Cyndi Lauper chorus and a balding Hulk Hogan. Geez, it’s a cartoon, they could have at least given the guy a LITTLE dignity….

Not only don’t I remember watching a good chunk of these, but I couldn’t even find ads after 87, and had to scour the interwebz, eventually stumbling along this beauty from 1989:

Smurfs and Chipmunks never died, but I find the two strangest entries here to be Camp Candy and the Karate Kid. I don’t remember either of these. According to Wikipedia, the Karate Kid only lasted 13 episodes, but Camp Candy had a 3-year 40-episode run! What the hell? I can’t even rewatch a 90-minute film with Candy in it, 3 years worth of episodes sounds tortuous.

I wanted to make a joke here about Candy’s filmography, but while perusing it I noticed Spaceballs came out in 1987. I watched it recently and wouldn’t have guessed its age to be two decades plus, but I also wouldn’t say it has aged too terribly well either. Pizza the Hut! Ha! What a gas.

I would assume somewhere around 86-87 is when my cartoon viewing started to lean a little more towards after school and a little less Saturday Morning. After school had He-man, GI Joe, Thundercats, and Transformers. Classics, each and every one, and way more adult than little blue misfits and obese camp counselors. John Candy, he ain’t no Jim Varney, and Jim Varney was king of the late 80s. By that time I was creeping up on early adulthood, I didn’t want to watch no stinking talking chipmunks! I wanted violence and talking robots and cats who wielded ninja-like weaponry!

And also young, adventurous ducks who adventured with their filthy-rich curmudgeonly uncle. You never outgrow that.