When this limited-edition Candy Cane holiday offering from Ugly popped up in our inbox, we knew that we had to have it as our first foray into the Uglyverse.
We love a refreshing mint on our palate, as evidenced by our obsessions with Good & Gather’s irrepressibly refreshing Cucumber Mint and Aura Bora’s sensory dream of Peppermint Watermelon. So the promise of a Candy Cane Sparkling Water was too good to pass up.
We’ll admit: We’re still not totally sold on the Ugly branding. It’s a lot of in-your-face U-tongue for us.
It’s like the millennial, 21st century version of the Kool-aid Man, but instead of breaking down walls, he’s breaking down ideas of tasteful aesthetic choices for Sparkling Water Brands. Maybe that’s why it’s called Ugly?
We’re unsure why this is the gambit they chose, but either way, if we like what’s inside, we’ll call it a Holly Jolly Christmas after all.
And we do find the Candy Cane graphic on the can adorably seasonal.
But how do you render the taste of a candy cane in bubble form? Well, let’s unwrap this gift (i.e. pop the can open).
The nose on this water is the sweetest, meltiest after-dinner mint. Promises of palate cleansing abound. We’re not sure if this is going to be seasonal whimsy or pure breath-freshening functionality, but either way, we love those buttery mints. Give them to us.
Welcome to a Winter Wonderland. This is the Ice Queen herself ice dancing on your palate. More specifically, this is like a liquid Tic Tac in the best way.
It slips and slides between the familiar, sharper white Peppermint and the beloved softer, minty hued Wintergreen. The flavor is incredibly subtle and occasionally you have to search for it, but this is how it should be. If this were heavier in execution, this would veer into a dental experience, your mouth awash in carbonated toothpaste.
No, this is the effervescent tingle of holiday magic. This is the bow-wrapped candy cane come to life in bubbles. This is a troupe of ugly sugarplums dancing in your dreams. This is the abominable snowman peering from his solstice cave as he picks his teeth with a human bone.
A Contemplator versus A Pounder
We’d like to offer this terminology to our fellow bubblenauts for consideration:
As we determined while pondering this flavor, this Candy Cane sparkling water is more of a Contemplator than a Pounder. You know, the “Pounders” being those commodity brands that you guzzle with narry a thought, the Topo Chico Grapefruits and LaCroix Limes.
But there’s something a little more sublime happening in this Ugly, and while this is a Single Flavor bubbler, it nonetheless skews more into the “Contemplator” realm, where you sip gently trying to unpack the nuanced flavor profile. This is more reminiscent of sipping on a Dram Lavender Lemon Balm for 30 minutes than pounding a 5-minute Pamplemousse.
Despite what the brash U-tongue promises, there’s a real delicacy expressed in this flavor. This is Elsa shooting ice castles from her hand, but in a real pretty, artistic way. The aesthetics may be missing outside the can, but inside they are alive and singing “Show Yourself,” building an exquisite frost palace for your mouth in which you can reside forever in wintery solitude.
If we had to find one qualm with this Candy Cane, it might be that we’d like a little more mint? Occasionally there’s a sip that barely tastes like someone swizzled a cane around in a glass of Pure Lacroix, or like we chewed some gum like an hour ago. We don’t need to get our sinuses blown out by a minty blast or anything, but if this is our one case of this flavor, let’s make it count.
It might just be that it’s a real fine line between invoking a delicate wintergreen dusting and invoking getting impaled through the roof of your mouth by the sharp end of a peppermint stick, and we’re grateful that Ugly chose restraint in this one. We often find their flavors much more refined and sophisticated than their branding would have you think, and this one is no exception.
And finally, we would be remiss to not note that this is one of Ugly’s “Limited Edition” runs, and these can go fast. As fleeting as Prince Hans and Princess Anna’s love. We highly recommend getting these as soon as possible if you don’t want this bubbling holiday magic to pass you by.
Sparkling Water, Natural Flavor