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What the drink at Jonestown probably tasted like.

Clear American Red White & Blue Pop Sparkling Water Beverage (Walmart)

I would love to sit in on board meetings for beverage companies where they decide what flavors to offer. Who, for example, decided to base a beverage off of a “red, white and blue pop”? It seems like a scene out of one of those cheesy Hallmark rom-coms: The main character, a female, is career-oriented. She works as a marketer for a beverage company, and is promised a promotion if she can pitch the “Next Big Drink.” She fondly remembers her favorite treat from childhood: “TNT Pops” (it would have to be changed to avoid copyright infringement). The popsicles hold a special place in her heart, because it reminds her of summers spent with her mother, who has since passed away (a requirement for these movies nowadays). 

Her job is her identity and that promotion is something she’s worked toward her whole life. She envisioned herself as a marketing executive as soon as she could formulate thoughts in her brain, and once this idea takes off – as she is certain it will – she will have the executive lifestyle she has always dreamed of. She confidently makes the pitch in front of her peers…and is laughed right out of the meeting. Salt is immediately rubbed into her wounds when she is let go by the very corporation she pledged a lifetime of allegiance to. With nowhere else to go, she is then forced to stay with her parents in her small hometown, where she will eventually fall in love with her old childhood sweetheart. 

That’s how the story should have unfolded: In a movie. Instead, this was a real life meeting. Someone pitched the idea, and enough people were not only on board to approve it, but to actually see to it that it ended up on store shelves. Out of all the things that could be “liquified” into sparkling water, and a company decided that “red white and blue pops” were deserving of the honor. And I guess I’m supporting that idea by purchasing it. Because, hey, maybe it’s a diamond in the rough, right?

The scent is the first clue that something is amiss. It’s candy-level sweet and maybe even slightly stomach-churning in its intensity. There’s a hint of the titular popsicle in there somewhere, but it’s buried among other unnecessary scents that make it all seem like an incoherent glob. Nothing about it is inviting; it’s like it was reverse engineered to turn people off. Think a blend of a popsicle with cotton candy…that’s about what it smells like. (And, oddly enough, “Cotton Candy” is also a flavor that Clear American manufactures…) 

But you know what they say: You can’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes the most innocent person is hiding deep, dark secrets. Or the bible-thumper is a freak in the sheets. Or a product that smells gross actually manages to taste good. It’s good advice: Give everything a shot. Because sometimes, you just may end up being pleasantly surprised.

On that note, even the most well-intentioned advice can go horrendously, horrendously wrong. Sure, sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover. Sometimes the person that comes off as an idiotic douchebag turns out to be a sweetheart and the man of your dreams. More often than not, though, he actually turns out to be an idiotic douchebag. 

True to the initial impressions, Clear American’s patriotic attempt is overly saccharine, somehow managing to be even sweeter than the heavily-sugared popsicle it’s based off of. It’s so sweet that, after a couple of swigs, I had to throw in the towel, as forcing down further drinks became a cringeworthy affair. It’s like a run-on sentence that goes on indefinitely, failing to make any kind of point. Or like a review for a Walmart beverage that overstays its welcome. There are so many things going on, you’d swear it’s hiding something dark; it’s how I’d imagine the Jonestown concoction to have tasted. 

In the end, the only thing that’s clear about this beverage, is that it’s to be avoided. At all costs. Even $.76, which I must admit, is enticingly affordable.

Overall: 1.5/10. No matter what you think of the titular popsicles, there’s little denying the patriotic effectiveness of their aesthetic. Personally, I think the taste follows suit, offering up three layers of flavor that combine to form a deliciously cohesive whole. This beverage, on the other hand, does not have the benefit of layered colors, or even layered tastes. Instead, it’s just a glob of overly sweet disgustingness that becomes a chore to force down almost from the outset. It’s a crude concoction that tastes like something participants would be forced to drink in a mass murder-suicide. I’m not sure how the idea even made it past the “pitch” phase; I’m even more flabbergasted that it actually made it to store shelves. Take a hard pass on this one. Unless you like the titular popsicles on which it’s based. In that case, take an even harder pass. The only positive that prevents it from receiving a dubious goose egg: the $.76 price tag.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. James

    The Clear American Red, White and Blue water from Walmart was the best flavored drink they officered and it’s a shame that it was discontinued. Walmart needs to bring this item back!

    1. atom

      Is it discontinued? I swear I saw it the last time that I was at Walmart…although it was around the 4th of July. Maybe it’s seasonal?

  2. R. Setty

    Judging by the outrage resulting from the discontinuation of “red white and blue”, “cotton candy” and other flavors, I thinl you missed the mark on this one.

    1. atom

      Or, perhaps, judging from the discontinuation of said products, maybe I’m spot on?

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