So. Jelly Belly makes sparkling waters.
This is counterintuitive for a few reasons:
- Sparkling water is not a jelly bean.
- Sparkling water does not contain sugar, and if there’s one thing we associate with the Jelly Belly brand, it’s sugar: that refined, crack-like lifeblood of the Anthropocene.
If you can’t tell, we do have strong feelings about the inclusion of sweeteners/juice/caloric poison* in otherwise pure, glorious sparkling water, as evidenced by our scintillating thinkpiece on the granular beast.
* we suppose it remains to be seen if “natural essences” are any better for you, but until proprietary blends become public knowledge, we’ll be here chugging away, enamel be damned!
But! Jelly Belly’s Sparkling Water, despite the provenance of the company from which it springs, does not contain any sugar or other sweeteners at all, and we are definitely not above trying this latest offering to the bubbleverse.
In fact, our curiosity was piqued when it was announced Jelly Belly was moseying into the Sparkling Water space. And when we saw actual boxes in the store, we had to restrain ourselves from buying every flavor.
(Mostly because we’re in the weeds with writing all these reviews, and every new flavor we buy means more “work”. Even in the Bubbleverse, you must strive for a healthy work/drink-sans-care balance.)
Of course, though, our cynical little brains began churning before we even picked up the can. And our first cynical thought, gazing upon the can, was: WTF does “True to Life Flavors” mean? A buoyant little text bubble proclaims this maxim as if it actually means anything.
The phrasing suddenly sends our minds to some dark thoughts of Frankenstein Flavor Necromancy, where, unlike the sparkling water with the eponymous name, this is actual liquid death we’re about to consume. But, hey, don’t worry, it tastes lifelike! 🧟♂️
Let’s also not forget that Jelly Belly birthed the horrific “Buttered Popcorn” flavor into the world (still inexplicably not discontinued).
Are we really confident in their ability to deliver a lifelike flavor we enjoy?
So here we find ourselves, quivering before a zombie “French Vanilla” brought to us by the rotten core of sugar itself, wrapped up in a brightly colored bow. We open the can and the aroma greeting us is all Stay Puft Marshmallow Man wobbling into our nasal passages.
He waves to us, come on in. I am so lifelike.
It’s genuinely intoxicating and we are powerless to resist.
We wave back.
In which we completely do a 180 on our Jelly Belly stance:
Oh sweet baby Jesus. The Marshmallow Man has melted into exquisite carbonated oblivion, and through our tongues, together we merge onto a different plan of existence. He even lets us put on his jaunty blue cap as we swirl around into liquified vanilla ecstasy.
This isn’t just melted French Vanilla ice cream (the Breyer’s kind, with the tiny brown speckles, that you only got to have on birthdays at the roller rink), this is the satisfying creamy effervescence that comes in a Root Beer Float. The creamy bubbles pressed up against a frozen pint glass, the peak of summer clinking along with your spoon. You shovel root beer coated ice cream into your eight-year-old face, as your thighs get splinters from the park bench.
How did they make this so creamy?
And just to completely obliterate your critical thinking and send you into a halcyon reverie of youth, the aftertaste is the pink milk of Lucky Charms, which you gulp fiendishly with illicit fervor.
Basically, Jelly Belly said it themselves: this is true to life, if your life is the sum total of your childhood Dairy Queen fantasies. This is some chemical hocus pocus that conjures all of the desserts you’ve ever had in your life, and you are now in the grips of some nostalgic journey, visiting all of the decadent and sugar-filled moments of your preteen years.
This is too much. It’s just right. Your eyes roll back in your head. You know this can’t be good for you, but something craven in your core wants more.
Suddenly we’re thinking Jelly Belly isn’t so bad. This French Vanilla has taken hold of the child inside of us, our better judgement, our taste buds, and assumes complete control of our mental faculties.
We went through a case embarrassingly quickly.
To our fellow bubblenauts: Drink with caution. Or suddenly you might find yourself elbow deep in a bin of Jelly Belly at the candy store, wondering how your life came to this.
Carbonated Water, Natural Flavor