Monday, 8 August 2011

A Big Red reviews Big Red

Gerry got his mits on a lot of imported soft drinks from our good pals at American Soda recently and so will be hitting us up with some big reviews. Up first is the soft drink version of everyones favourite chewing gum.... no no it's not but it has the same name it's big red

A few days ago I took delivery of an exciting package of sodas imported from the good ol’ US of A (where the astronauts live) and let me tell you there aren’t many things that can fit inside a box that would get me more excited. Most of the drinks inside I had either tried before or at least heard of; Root beers, AW Cream Soda, various Mountain Dews and Dr Peppers but there was one stranger lurking in the box, Big Red.

This mysterious tin instantly stood out from the rest with its simplistic design and striking red colour as well as that catchy name, so it had to be the first I tried. Having never heard of Big Red I had no idea what to expect and my mind raced as I imagined what tasty treat I had coming to me, would it be strawberry? Cherry? Maybe even cinnamon like the gum it shares its name with?

Unfortunately it was none of the above, it was a red coloured cream soda, but a cream soda that was being under cut but something else, something over powering, something familiar. For a drink that had travelled so far to be in my hands it was ironic that its most striking flavour was very similar to a drink that could be found much closer to home, C+C Brown Lemonade.

C+C (Cantrell or Cochrane) is a Northern Irish manufacturer of soft drinks; they make the standard range such as orangeade, cola and white lemonade but also make a Brown Lemonade. Brown Lemonade? Yes you read that correctly, and no it isn’t cola flavoured, it is quite simply lemonade that has been coloured brown.

Legend has it that workers in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast weren’t allowed to drink beer on their breaks, (probably because one time when drunk they forgot to iceberg-proof the Titanic) and weren’t keen on soft drinks because they thought it made them look feminine.. (Smart bunch of lads these guys)So along came C+C with a brown lemonade designed to be drunk from a pint glass and look like a pint of grog. Opinion is mixed as whether the Brown Lemonade actually tastes any different to the white variation but I fall firmly into the yes camp, the difference is slight, perhaps caused by the different colourings, but definitely there.

This is where the similarity between Big Red and Brown Lemonade makes sense, just as Brown lemonade is lemonade tainted by its colourings, Big Red is a cream soda that has been changed by its red dyes. The pleasant creamy flavour is never allowed to completely shine through and is instead affected by a slight chemical tinge and a very artificial tasting sweetness. It is not a bad drink by any stretch of the imagination, just a shallow one that has sacrificed its integrity for good looks

Note: I had always thought brown lemonade used brown sugar. Seemingly not

So does anyone taste the supposedly unique aspects of Big Red? Can a discerning Cream Soda drinker tell us pfffttt nonsense there's something funny going on big red mountain? Let us know

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