April 1997
s m u g
by Leslie Harpold


Jones Orange Soda

First things first. As best as I can tell, SMUG is almost 60% powered by PepsiCo. Jack and I have actually had arguments where he says he loves Pepsi more than I love Diet Pepsi, and after some consideration, I publicly concede he's right. Still, I have been known to consume two liters of Diet Pepsi and a half pack of butts while eking out the last little details of SMUG. Sometimes though, a girl needs a change of pace, and with the possible exception of the occasional root beer cravings, I've always sought solace in less exotic beverages like water or juice. Sure, they're healthier than soda, but there are times I want fun and bubbles.

My problem is the sweetness of mass marketed sodas. I switched to Diet Pepsi since Tab wasn't available in glass bottles in New York City, and acquired the taste for it. So, I'm not used to a lot of sweetness. Orangina is too sweet for me. Naturally, I feel I'm already sweet enough, on the inside. So, I'm doing the do downtown one afternoon, and suddenly I'm parched. Heading into the local deli (it's what convenience stores are called in NYC) I scan the beverages looking for something to wet my whistle.

Good packaging works for me, but it can't be just any good packaging. It has to look genuinely different, and it can't be too bright or splashy - somehow after all this time of dressing in black, bright colors frighten me. So, it was like a magnet that I was drawn to Jones Soda. The label featured great little black and white vignette photographs, and the label text was white on black, reminiscent of an art gallery invitation. I was smitten with the super-design-y oversimplified look of it. The product colors - in clear, lean, tall glass bottles was kind of a glowy orange, green, or pinkish color. There was a watered down looking purple one as well, but purple means grape, and since I'm not a grape person, I immediately removed that one from the list of options. I continued my investigation.

Jones Strawberry Lime Soda

The photography was captivating. Simple, iconified images of everyday objects, dropped into a totally unexpected location. I was already feeling refreshed and I hadn't even taken sip one. Time to read the label. The copy was more conversational than most beverage packages, generally that product category is copy light. In a brief eloquent statement they explain that they are a young company, not interested in taking over the world, wanting to produce a not-so sweet beverage, and that the photographs reflect these modern times. Honestly, the phrase these modern times almost lost me, but the keywords less sweet sealed the deal. I picked though the bottles - each one seems to have a random photograph, and purchased three bottles - orange, lemon-lime and strawberry lime.

Strawberry Lime tasted a little fakey, but tart, and it was tasty. Since my comapnion for the day is a fan of that kind of flavor, it was his to finish. (In my "empirical research", I get the first sip of everything.) The lemon lime had me swooning. It's less bubbly than conventional soda, and the feeling in your mouth is really nice, kind of a quiet excitement. Not sexual, but sort of a sophisticated feeling, if those words can be applied to a non-alcoholic beverage. My experience was so pleasant, I decided to take an orange one home for further "testing" and two more bottles of lemon-lime for pure personal enjoyment.

The orange was delicious too, again, tasting more like orange than that sickly sweet Sunkist stuff, gently carbonated, and just plain yummy. It lacks the swillability of Diet Pepsi, so you don't chug it down. You don't need to. It is thirst quenching, and the old style bottle feels great in your hand, simultaneously summoning the grown up feeling of a beer bottle and the childhood innocence of birthday party Towne Club sodas. I now keep whole six packs of it around and make all my company try it.

I still haven't figured out of it's a big company doing the Bartles and Jaymes thing, "love us, we're tiny" or if they are the real enterpreneurial deal. Either way, it works for me on so many levels. I'm smitten and I don't care who knows, I'd call it a crush, but that's another soda altogether. I have yet to see any advertising for the product, but I hear they have a bad "Jonesing for a Jones" ad campaign on the West Coast. I just want to know if they sell prints of the label photographs, some of them I really love.

Jones is the soda to drink when you want the experience of having a little treat, an indulgence of inconspicuous consumption. Something to remind you that your taste buds still work, and you're still capable of discerning between good and great. I haven't decided if I love the packaging or the product more, and to be honest, it may be the packaging. I'm not questioning it though, I'm giving it the official Fonzie-inspired two thumbs up. As long as they keep putting it in those bottles with those labels, they can count on me to buy it. Maybe I'll even try the grape one day.


back to the junk drawer

and such
and such

Jones Lemon Lime Soda

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