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If you were a scientist, to what great and noble cause would you dedicate your working life? The cure for AIDS? Recreating extinct species from DNA samples? Genetically modifying crops so poorer countries could grow enough food? Or perhaps creating the world's first fizzy milkshake?
It would seem a pretty pointless invention, yet that's just what one company has seen fit to invest research into developing. And so we have Freekee Soda. Ain't science something?
The drink is brought to you by Britvic, a label best known for those titchy individual cans of mixers you get on aeroplanes. A quick Google brings up the manufacturer's official word on the matter.
It's revealing stuff. I shudder to relate, readers, that Freekee Soda promises to deliver a blend of smoothness and fizziness, or: 'smizziness'. (www.britvic.com)
It is a golden rule of advertising that if you have to make up new words to describe the product, it's simply bound to be a total dud. Look at the Nissan Micra and all that ghastly 'spafe' and 'modtro' business.
Even the bottle, I learn from that ever-fascinating bulletin 'Packaging Materials Purchase', is a miracle of modern science:
"Constar worked in partnership with Britvic to push the boundaries of carbonated bottle design to create a truly unique bottle for Freekee Soda." (www.businesswire.com)
It seems the innocuous-looking bottle (metallic effect, pink for strawberry, orange for orange) features a 'champagne style base profile', 'angled bubble band' and 'tapered label panel'. The future is here, and it's Freekee.
Personally, the bottles remind me of nothing more than the coloured metal cups at primary school that only came out for the annual disco. They were clearly meant to be special, yet still looked institutional and depressing.
A bottle holds 330ml. That's the same as a standard can of Coke, but because it's a bottle and not a can it looks very bijou next to 500ml bottles of fizzy drinks and mineral water, sending a clear 'It's for children' signal. And if the size didn't do the trick, the grimacing cartoon strawberry on the label should get the message across (though alcopop Hooch used to feature cartoon fruit before someone in authority decided this might make children more inclined to drink the hard stuff).
There is a gentle hiss as you unscrew the cap, which should alert anyone who hasn't twigged yet that this is a fizzy drink. It sounds closer to a bottle of Perrier opening than a can of Coke. Pour into a glass and you can tell straight away that there's something funny going on.
The first clue is the colour. Strawberry is a fittingly Strange shade of opaque red-pink, as though someone has added Ribena to milk. Orange, though, is simply orange, and looks deceptively similar to a glass of dull old regular OJ, or perhaps slightly darker, so we move on to Clue Two to identify it.
This is the head. Both drinks produce a small amount of fizz on pouring - pale pink for Strawberry, creamy orange for Orange - which swiftly disappears. Once the initial froth has dispersed, the drink's fizzing is not visible to the naked eye.
I enjoyed the Strange Strawberry. It gave off a nice strawberry-milkshake aroma, and tasted like a somewhat watery milkshake too. I don't like very fizzy drinks, but this one had just enough effervescence to be refreshing and ensure I didn't gulp it all at once. It didn't taste too sugary, either; I might well grab one of these in a thirst attack in preference to the usual bottle of Coke.
But oh, oh, Odd Orange. It's fizzy orange juice, and it's...just wrong. Perhaps it's the fact that the look and smell don't warn you this is anything other than plain juice. Perhaps it's the acidity of the fruit, or the fact that strawberry milkshakes are not unknown while orange ones are not the norm. But the mixture of orange, milk and fizz doesn't work. It has a bitter taste, and this combined with the fizz make it seem as if a glass of orange juice has fermented - but without producing anything so pleasant as alcohol.
I am unfortunate enough to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and one of the many remedies I've tried is the constipation medication Fybogel. It's an orange-flavoured fibre drink; the doctor who suggested it described it as 'jellied Shredded Wheat'. And, you've guessed it, this was the unpleasant memory that sprang to the front of my mind. I did finish the bottle, but only because I like to get my money's worth.
Then I remembered it was a freebie. Darn!
The good news about this drink is the nutrition information. Your 330ml is fortified with 6% of the RDA of calcium, contains 4% skimmed milk, 7% fruit juice and no added sugar. (On reflection this is not a great deal of milk, or indeed fruit juice, but a little is better than none.) A bottle accounts for just 17 calories if my maths is correct (5 per 100ml), compared to 135 in a can of Coke.
The lowest price I've seen so far is 99p for a four-pack at my local wonderland, The 99p Store. But discounts and buy-one-get-one offers abound and you should rarely have to pay the RRP of 62p a bottle. You might even be given free samples, as was the kind friend who donated both flavours to me in the name of research.
From all these special offers, and the fact that www.freekeesoda.com seems to have been taken down, one might well infer that this much-hyped product is crashing and burning before our very eyes.
You could say that Britvic don't deserve failure. They have, after all, created something new and unique, promoted it heavily, made it fun, made it even a little bit healthy. But in this writer's opinion, anyone who can say 'push the boundaries of carbonated bottle design' with a straight face richly deserves to have a flop on their hands.
Sorry to hear about your IBS problem, that must be a nightmare to live with. I hate this drink, its pretty disgusting. I bought it only because toys r us had nothing left and I was gasping for a bit of liquid refreshment. Good review and nice dog! Deb
Lancashire_Angel 22.12.2003 23:21
I'd never heard of this but the very fact they have copied the highly dodgy and extremely sad Nissan marketing strategy of coining obscure new words puts me off. Love Sharron xxx