In writing this column, we tend to get most excited about smaller brands, the Sprecher Root Beers of the world: sodas that might not be at every 7-11, might not be available in every state, but offer something special. Still, every once in awhile we get excited about a bigger brand's offering. And we were pleasantly surprised by Sierra Mist Natural Strawberry Kiwi Splash.
It's crisp, acidic, and citrusy, and unlike most strawberry-flavored sodas, manages to have the flavor of that fruit without being overbearingly sweet. Made with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup, it has a smooth, rounded sweetness sharply cut by the lemon-lime flavors. Does it taste like kiwi? Er, not really. But we can't really say we missed that flavor. (What would a kiwi soda taste like? Are there kiwi sodas out there? Now we're starting to wonder.) Imagine a carbonated strawberry lemonade, one where the lemon's tartness isn't covered up, and that's essentially what you're getting.
The "natural" on any package doesn't always mean much; in fact, we've had worse experiences with some brands' "natural" sodas than their main lineup. But in terms of a refreshing, sugar-based summer soda? We're pretty happy with Strawberry Kiwi Splash.
About the authors: Carey Jones is the senior managing editor of Serious Eats. Follow her on Twitter (@careyjones). John M. Edwards writes about soda, occasionally writes about fast food, and eats 85% of the food Carey orders. Follow him on Twitter (@johnmedwards).