Trader Joe’s Old-Fashioned Root Beer

Trader Joe's Vintage Root Beer
Sandy and I had the opportunity to visit some remote Mexican towns for a week in summers past to assist with medical work and get to know the people. It’s not possible to pinpoint where we went on a map. All I know is that we flew into Mexico City and got into a van for 15 people. We drove over mountains and through deserts, before arriving in a village at the top of a mountainside. There we set up camp and would drive another hour to get to smaller towns. Crazy fun. These trips were amazing because, apart from making a difference/helping people, and learning from cultures different to ours, each village had at minimum two or three small shops with Coca-Cola signs. A cooler filled with cold Cokes would be waiting for you inside. After chasing 10 year-olds around a soccer field, it’s late afternoon and the temperature is 115 degrees. There’s nothing more refreshing than that. Sandy and me would go to the store every day and, for just a few pesos (30 cents), each of us would get a Coke and find somewhere shaded to sit and relax.

Mexican Coke is very different from the Coke we have in the U.S. Mexican Coke, and most sodas around the world, uses real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Since the late ’70s to early ’80s, HFCSs were used in almost every processed product. Really?) It’s cheaper because of import sugar taxes and farm subsidies. There are many claims that the high use of HFCSs was the primary factor in the recent rises in obesity rates and heart disease. There are arguments both for and against this notion. It could go on forever and likely will.

My take? I want a cold, delicious drink. A great choice is Trader Joe’s Vintage Root Beer. You might also like Other soft drinks are also being sold under the “old school”, or “retro,” label.TJ’s root beer, which is made with sweet and delicious cane sugar, is now HCFS free. The root beer isn’t any different from sodas made with sugar. I find them lighter, fresher and more crisp tasting. It is smooth because it isn’t nearly as fizzy than other soft drinks. It doesn’t taste “flat”, which would mean it lacks the carbonation that it should. TJ’s Vintage Root Beer tastes more like what you could expect from a homebrew kit or festival stand (like the fresh birch beer I had on the 4th at a Pennsylvania Dutch festival) than a bottle of Barq’s or can of A&W. It is refreshing, light and extremely drinkable. There are real root beer flavors such as vanilla and anise. It would make a good choice for floats. However, I doubt it would be as popular as I thought. I prefer the mix of fizz and cream. It’s an exceptional drink by itself.

Sandy doesn’t drink soda, apart from Dr. Peppers occasionally, but she admitted she likes it enough to give it a 5. It’s likely she stole the last bottle from me while I was upstairs showering, and then only shared it with her when I caught her.* Me? It’s hard to be exact. Sometimes it’s difficult to impress me with some things. TreatsGrowing up in Eastern PA, I learned from my parents that people of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage are more successful than most others (if TJ’s ever attempts to make that a reality). Shoo-fly PieOr Funny cake(God help them), which I consider root beet to be one of them. It’s not as good or as home-brewed beer at festivals, but it’s better than most commercially available types. A-Treat brand. This is some awesome stuff. The TJ’s are $3.99 for a 4-pack. If Coke can transport a full fridge to a remote Mexican village and make enough money to sell the bottles at a mere quarter each, then I think it’s possible to get a comparable high-quality soda bottle for less than one dollar in any major U.S. metro area. Perhaps that’s just me. Eh. Okay, enough of my quibbling. I enjoyed it, and I’m taking a four. It made me hungry for more.

Bottom line: 9/10 Golden Spoons

* Yes, dear, this is a slight exaggeration. But it’s only a slight exaggeration. By the way, notice how I wrote an entire review about soda and never once called it what you and all you silly Pittsburgh-born-and-raised folks call it?