Monday, March 9, 2009

Olde Philadelphia Black Cherry

Olde Philadelphia's line of gourmet sodas is actually produced by Lion Brewery way up in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Still a local company, but how they get Philadelphia into their name (or why they need an "E" at the end of "Old") is something of a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the label says "Ben Franklin" in dual-colored italics just under the Liberty Bell logo. I mean, I know he was from Philly and everything, but his name has absolutely no purpose on this bottle. Especially as busy as the decal already is.

But enough about Olde Philadelphia's graphic design short-comings. There are enough short-comings in the soda itself to harp on. Harsh? Eek. OP's Black Cherry isn't the worst cherry soda you'll ever drink for sure, but it just isn't much to write home about. The flavor is a little thin, sort of like a melted snow cone. It is distinctly cherry, but not much more. No zing of honey or ginseng or any of the other common additions that are often used to embolden the flavor of independent sodas. An ingredient I was very excited to see exempt from the list, however: high fructose corn syrup! Yes, OP is pure cane sugar. Though the amount of mysterious "artificial flavoring" (never explained beyond those two words) and coloring they add (Red #40 and Blue #1) to achieve the drink's deep crimson hue are probably more than enough to counteract any health benefits leaving HFCS out might have given. When are these companies going to realize that the people buying their products just don't care what color their soda is, so long as it tastes delicious? We all know coke isn't really brown and that cherry isn't really red. Plus, if you want to approximate natural color, use something natural to do it. I'd almost guarantee an increase in sales from the true-blue organic buyers alone.

Lion Brewery prides themselves on producing classic flavors that hearken back to a simpler time, and I suppose they have succeeded in that. Olde Philadelphia is certainly stripped down to its barest of parts. But while I can definitely appreciate such a mission, I think the flavor suffers from it in this case. Instead of simplifying like they did, it would have definitely been in OP's better interest to "naturalize" instead and keep a certain... pow to their recipe. At least something that I'll remember it by. OP might have done what they set out to do, but they haven't impressed me in the process. The only thing I'll have stuck in my memory is this "Ben Franklin" business. Seriously. What the hell is that all about?

TASTE: 5/10
LOOK: 4/10

PRICE: $2.99/4-12oz. btls ($.06/oz)
BUY IT: Weis Markets, Ephrata PA