When I was a little kid in the eighties it seemed like every other week, either on TV or in school I got told the tale of the Emperor’s new clothes. You know the one: The Emperor wants some new garments so he gets the finest tailor in the land to put together a fine suit and for whatever reason, rather than making a proper outfit, the tailor puts on an elaborate charade of making a suit out of nothing, all along the way insisting to his client that the materials are of the finest quality. The Emperor ashamed of his ignorance of sartorial matters chooses to believe the clothes do exist. His advisors and eventually the people don’t point out the error, for similar reasons and because they don’t want to offend his kingship. Eventually a small boy points out that the Emperor is wandering around in the nude and the charade falls down.
Well I used to hate that story when I was a kid. It seemed to me that the Emperor was an idiot and that his people were pretty out of order not pulling him up on his mistake sooner. In time though the tale grew on me and these days I find myself thinking about it all the time for a lot of situations in the world, big and small.
Which brings me onto the SodaStream Clear range, a new selection of flavours aping the trend in the last ten years of other clear drinks across the soft drinks market. These drinks make much of the fact that they do not contain artificial flavours, sweeteners or colours, with presumably the implication that this makes them better for you.
The Passion fruit and Mango example I have is certainly clear. I’ve made up a few batches and you can hold them up to the light and look through them if you want. Where they fall down for me is that the flavour is extremely insipid. Even if you overdose on syrup the taste of passion fruit and/or mango is very mild. So mild that if you’ve battered your tastebuds over christmas on rich food, curry and sweets you may struggle to taste much at all.
In fairness, when you do get the flavour it is quite a pleasant one and overall the drink is quite refreshing. Passion fruit and Mango is a good combination and if I could get more of it I reckon this might be a great drink.
This is not really an attack on the SodaStream flavour particularly – I would say it measures up to the taste of ‘clear’ drinks you might get from M&S and on the basis that these drinks usually cost more than a standard bottle of pop from the shops, the value is considerably higher. It has a nice smell and if your guests are likely to be impressed by mildly flavoured water my advice would be to go wild for the clear range.
If however, you are like me and you want a fizzy drink to be honest – to taste of sugar and fruit and touch the tastebuds, there are plenty of other flavours that do the job a lot better. Don’t kid yourself that these drinks are better for you or your teeth either. Without really understanding or wanting to validate the dubious science of nutrition, I can see from putting my SodaStream Cola and Passion Mango syrups side by side that the ‘Clear’ flavour contains more sugar and energy per serving than its honest counterpart.
We do seem to spend a lot of time saying something is great or pretending it tastes nice or is better for us these days and I think it’s a nice feeling to recognise the ‘Emperor’ in ourselves and recognise that we don’t want to walk around wearing invisible clothes. To sum up, if you want to keep it healthy and you don’t want your drink to taste of much I would recommend water…. and if you see people walking around with no clothes, don’t be afraid to tell them, although they may not all appreciate it.