Jones Soda is a Hit Coffee favorite, at least among Web and I (I have no idea of Sheila’s opinion on this important matter) and apparently they’ve sold out. In the literal sense, I mean. They’d been bought out by a competitor.

(On a sidenote, Jones soda is owned by a guy named Jones and Reed, the purchasing company, is owned by a guy named Reed. You don’t expect to see that a whole lot these days.)

Jones had actually been, up to a point, pretty successful until recently. Unfortunately, they leveraged at the wrong time to expand into candies and wider distribution and had fallen onto hard times. Reed bought them for a song.

Web expressed some concern that this will mean the end of one of the few major options for those that prefer sugar to corn syrup. This does not appear to be the case, fortunately for sugar-lovers (or is that corn syrup haters?) as Reed is apparently all natural-oriented. That type of thing could mean corn syrup (it’s natural, so how can it be bad for you, corn producers ask) but more likely means, as my former roommate Dennis put it, that the flavors will now come with Ginsung included or somesuch jazz.

I don’t care if they include Ginsung or not nor do I care if they go with corn syrup. What I love(d) most about Jones Soda is their innovative array of flavors and their creative packaging.

If Reed goes messing with the flavor selection, that will be the biggest bummer since Jolt Cola stopped their flavored line. Most of you that know of Jolt know it for being super-duper caffeine-infused. But for a while when I was in college, they had a line of different flavored drinks that was really good. The only two things that compare to it are the current Mountain Dew offerings, which are seasonal and inconsistent, and Jones.

I was introduced to Jones and irregular Jolt back when I was in college and both quickly eclipsed Coke and Pepsi. Sortly after, Southern Tech University signed an exclusive deal with Coca-Cola that prevented them from selling Jones on campus. So I would have to go across the Interstate to the scary part of town to get my fix. That was where I discovered Jolt. They made a great combination: Jolt if I wanted something caffeinated and Jones if I didn’t. I would bring some back to my roommates (Dennis, Saresh, and Hubert at the time) and they liked it, too (except maybe Saresh).

Then we moved on, I moved off campus, and Jolt fell off my radar and a year or so it disappeared.

Jones, too, had fallen somewhat off my radar until I moved to the northwest. Jones Soda is apparently based out of the Pacific Northwestern United States. I did not know this. I did know that Jones was more widely available out there than anywhere else I’d been, but for some reason I thought that Jones was a Canadian company. But anyway, I guess due to regional preference, it was more widely available and so I got it when I could.

Interestingly, one of the airlines I flew also offered Jones in lieu of Coke or Pepsi. I was honestly kind of disappointed. It was somewhere below Coke and above Pepsi. The fact that they used sugar rather than corn syrup didn’t seem to make much of any difference.

Pepsi has been on a sugar kick lately with a “Throwback” line made from sugar instead of corn syrup. Clint swears it tastes sweeter, but honestly I can’t really taste it. It does taste a little bit different, but mostly different and not better or worse.

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if somebody at Pepsi had just gotten tired of people ragging on corn syrup and decided to give people what they wanted just so that they would shut up and that most people would come to the conclusion that I did. So then even if Throwback was a failure, they’d have something to point to and say “See? Nobody cares!”

Of course, it’s also possible (my experience with Jones aside) that to get the full taste of sugar they would need to do some R&D work and revise the formula built around corn syrup. Or maybe they did do some R&D work to bring the cost down and the lack of awesomeness that I sense is a matter of corners cut elsewhere.

On one last note about Jones Soda, the second thing I mentioned was the creative packaging. Jones takes submitted photographs and puts them on the bottles, which is neat. They also let you order custom bottles with your own pictures. I had this idea that one of these days I would take the comic book characters I created in high school and give each one of them a Jones flavor. If I want to do that, I might should get a move on while before Reed decides that’s a corner that can be cut.

Category: Market

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8 Responses to Losin’ My Jones?

  1. web says:

    I bought a lot of Pepsi Throwback and Mt. Dew Throwback when there was a sale and a bunch of boxes (delivery day) at my local grocery.

    I don’t claim they “taste” any different, but my mouth feels a lot cleaner after drinking the Throwback, and the aftertaste is definitely better. HFCS just likes to stick to everything…

  2. web says:

    Also, other things to consider:

    – Pepsi and Coke already do a sugar run every year around Passover time, because HFCS is “normally kosher” but not “passover kosher” because corn’s a proscribed grain during Passover.

    – Dr. Pepper’s been selling their sugar-variety (in 4-packs in glass bottles) for a while now and it sells quite well.

    My suspicion is that the “limited time” Pepsi/Mt. Dew Throwbacks are a marketing test, to see if the “Hey look, no HFCS” idea actually works as a marketing tactic.

  3. stone says:

    If it weren’t for caloric reasons, I would drink a lot more soda, and would include a lot more gourmet soda such as Jones in my diet.

    For creme soda, I used to like a brand called “Natural Brew.” I haven’t seen it around for a while.

  4. trumwill says:

    Web, most “limited times” are trial runs, so you’re probably right that they will keep it around if it works. Soft drink companies like having numerous variations of their flavors because it can lead to more shelf space and so a Throwback line would fit in nicely if it does well.

    The question is whether or not they will be willing to eat the cost differential on a long-term basis. What surprises me a little bit about the Throwback line is that they put it in regular cans and bottles. I would have figured that they would make some sort of change so that they could apply an upcharge or otherwise put less in there. Glass bottles or 16oz bottles or somesuch.

    In addition to what you mention, in some parts of the country you can get “Mexican Coke”, which is sugar based. I had some just the other day at a Mexican restaurant up here.

    Anyway, I really don’t care all that much one way or the other on HFCS vs sugar. My only concern is that they all say “No more HFCS in any of our products!” followed by “Oh, yeah, and we’re going to charge 20c more a shot.” Even that wouldn’t be the end of the world as it would lead me to consume less.

  5. trumwill says:

    Sheila, root beer is one of those drinks where a lot of the smaller makers really do a better job. Other than Jones, I don’t have a preference for gourmet cola, but IBC Root Beer is tops and every now and again someone will introduce me to another maker, most of which seem to taste better than Barq’s or A&W.

  6. David Alexander says:

    IBC Root Beer

    I had some the other night at Red Lobster, and it was rather “different”. It was less like a soda when compared to Barq’s, and a bit less sweet. I’d argue it’s an acquired taste, but it’s still pretty good to drink once in a while.

  7. web says:

    IBC Root Beer

    Gahh. IBC is terrible. I’d rather have coke-ified Barq’s (funny how Coke bought Barq’s, advertised “Barq’s has Bite”, then took all the bite out of it).

    You know my favorite brand, Will. The local liquor chain for Colosse is importing it now for me, too.

  8. Maria says:

    Funny coincidence: I was just at a store last weekend that had Jones Soda for sale.

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