I don’t have any kids, but lots of my friends and acquaintances do and from what I have observed from studying them, it seems this kids business is a pretty full-on endeavour. As soon as one arrives, life changes massively: Not necessarily for the worse – these people seem pretty damn happy, sometimes almost fanatically – but it certainly is a game changer as much as a nappy/diaper changer.
Out goes caring about how you dress and the frivolous pursuit of alcoholic beverages, modern music and youtube videos. In comes people-carrying automobiles, loose knit sweaters and an unusual awareness of the child friendliness of any given room. They move about in buggy laden, bry-nylon clad groups, giving advice on improving sleep routines and the best way to instil a sensible feeding pattern, constantly looking for signs of prodigal greatness or impending doom in their offspring.
Ah, but this is not a post intended to mock these people. They are no more silly, pompous or misguided than someone spending the early part of a Monday night writing about SodaStream flavours, a twenty something getting ready for a big night out, a workaholic searching for millions in a broke down economy or a circus seal barking for a ball when all it wants is fish. This is a review which recognises that as parents we are genetically programmed to adore our infants. Hard-wired to do our best to put them on the path to a happy life. Fully intent on clearing their path of dangers and obstacles and that my friends is entirely as it should be…
Which brings me on to the flavour sat in front of me, reeking of pulpy fruit, fizzing away and promising real fruity vitamin goodness somewhere in the seething, swirling pinkish morass. You see, SodaStream’s Sparkling Natural range is a group of flavours introduced to satisfy the parental concern that they should really be putting something good in their kids. Forced to eat what’s put in front of them and craving bright colour and sugar like a magpie craves tin foil, it’s the job of parents to look after their needs, to guard them from nutritional ills and to see they grow up rickets free. So, we do our best to limit young Johnny’s coca cola intake and when we’re in the supermarket considering our next purchase of SodaStream syrup our hand strays from the fanta aisle and finds itself grabbing up the strawberry Natural option. Because fruit is good right? I mean the docs say we should be eating an arbitrary number of pieces a day right and we trust them? I mean the dentist’s say it’s even worse for our teeth, but well, we don’t trust them. But hey this new SodaStream flavour not only does it crammed full of fruit, it’s got 100% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C in it. I mean, with that we could dodge colds. We could kick flu in the balls. Hell, we could live forever. And what’s this? Look, there’s absolutely no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners in this bad boy. No preservatives! And 20% of it is fruit!
This context is certainly reflected in the design of the syrup bottle, featuring as it does a large child proof cap. Presumably this is intended to stop young Tarquin or Jemima attempting to down a whole bottle of fruity goodness and then running around your house like a rabid dog, tearing ornaments off shelves and wallpaper off the walls. It could also be to protect adults too though as when I made up a bottle I went heavy on the fizz (as is my wont) and then when adding the syrup, fortunately over the sink) this flavour created a foam mountain of epic proportions. Out it poured like lava, thick hexagonal bubbles rising over the top to fill my sink with pink and nice smelling suds. I was delighted. I thought it might be a one-off, but having now attempted to make up a bottle of this flavour a few times, every time I’ve seen the return of the Mount Pinatubo fruit volcano.
Volcanoes aside, the mix itself as a pleasingly pulpy, fruity sludge appearance, somewhere between jam and smoothie mix. It has a delightful sweet strawberry aroma and as it is slightly thicker with a bit more substance to it, mixing up a bottle involves watching the gradual dilution of the mix and with the sun streaming through the windows, the brownian motion as pulp becomes drink, looks quite nice.
As a drink, it has a mild fizz – possibly partly because it loses so much overflowing its bubbles over the sink and a mild yet not wholly unpleasant flavour. Definite strawberry twizzler notes, a smooth fructose heavy glide over the tongue and a clean and slightly leafy aftertaste. A slight nod to the taste of fruit juice diluted to the point of being much more of a decent fruit squash, it’s reasonably refreshing, but quite sickly and a little bit cloying.
I like the colour though and so will kids who favour radioactive shades. Deep pinkish red and impossible to see the bottom of. There be fruit density in these hills captain.
It’s not a terrible drink by a long stretch, in fact it’s verging on being nice, but it doesn’t get there – too insipid to be a full-on zingy strawberry drink and too sweet and complex to be a naturally refreshing, hydrating taste. Neither juice, nor toxic fizz. My advice would be that if you want fruit juice, buy a carton. If you want squash/cordial, buy a bottle and if you want to satisfy your fizzy drinks craving you get yourself a proper fruity flavour like orange, apple or go full on kamikaze and get cherry. Don’t be afraid to drink what you want.
… But if you’re a parent, desperate for sodastream but terrified of sucrose, with kids prone to hyperactivity, maybe this drink could do the trick. Yes, it may not be great, but it smells nice and has the vague impression of fizz, it might just keep the kids quiet. As to whether it will keep them well, that I cannot say. After all, if 20% is fruit, what is the other 80%? Well, who knows, but what we can be sure of is that it is not artificial, coloured or flavoured. It must be real and born of nature. It could be air, it could be water, it could be finely spun flavoured silk or best of all it could just be good intentions. But hey when we’re all doing our best to eat a little better, and care a little more, sometimes, good intentions can go a long way.
Try Strawberry Natural Flavour for yourself.