Friday, June 6, 2014

Fentimans Curiosity Cola - Wegman's: Cherry Hill, NJ

Fentimans Curiosity Cola - Wegman's: Cherry Hill, NJ
Even though I have reviewed, and enjoyed, a Fentiman's product before, I was iffy about buying this specific flavor. My track record with organic and botanical sodas hasn't been that great, and I feel like they always taste medicinal and perfume-y. I don't think I've liked any of the botanical sodas I've reviewed, but I had to buy this one just for the packaging.

Seeing how the packaging is what made me buy this in the first place, it's safe to say that I absolutely love it.

I went crazy photographing this stuff, so be prepared for tons of packaging photos.

The first thing that caught my eye was the cardboard carrying case. All four sides have a vintage inspired deign with aged paper textures, beautiful typography, and images that look like classic illustrations and etchings. The packaging really stands out from the other sodas on the shelf and, although it might be a little over the top, it's really lovely to look at. The front-facing design features a little information about the company, which you can read above, and gorgeous illustrations.

While the design looks like it's aimed at the hipster and foodie crowd (which it totally is), the formula is supposedly over a century old and the company is trying to maintain an aesthetic that represents the product's history. Two of the four panels are covered in historical information about the product and the company in English, while the other two share the same information in French.

I took French for 4 years, and while I am VERY rusty, it was fun to translate the other panels.

As for the bottle, it has the same label design as the Rose Lemonade, just a different color scheme, and it fits in with the rest of the product's vintage design. Most modern soda brands opt for a wrap-around label, so when I have something different to photograph it feels really refreshing, and I absolutely love this oval sticker. It's simple, the typography is well done, and it gives off a sophisticated vibe that foodies like me eat up with a spoon. (I guess it's more like drink up in a glass?)

Okay, I'm insane and I'm absolutely in love with this packaging, but will I like the product inside? I removed the bottle cap, which is always fun since I rarely get to use a bottle opener on anything, and the scent reminded me of cola made with cane sugar mixed with cloves and root-beer. (Although cloves are not listed in the ingredients list. Maybe that's the speedwell or yarrow extract?) The aroma isn't as medicinal as some of the other botanical colas I have had in the past, but I wouldn't say it was love at first sniff. 

When it was poured into a glass the soda had quite a lot of carbonation, which was really nice for photos. It looks so pretty!
Admittedly, this wasn't love at first sip either. When I opened my first bottle I found the flavor to be really overwhelming. This stuff tastes like a mixture of watered down root-beer, caramel, some kind of herbal flavor I can't place (maybe juniper?) and ginger. There was so much going on that I had no idea how I really felt about it. Since I had four bottles, and I'm cheap I don't like to waste things, I drank the rest of these bottles and found that I liked it more and more after each sip.

It took me over a month to drink all four of these, since I rarely drink soda, but it became a little treat after really long days at work. The taste might be acquired, but I'm pretty fond of this stuff now. The same taste I found overwhelming is now kind of comforting.

I think this is a soda you might not enjoy right off the bat, but it does grow on you. This taste isn't for everybody. If I had gone with my first impression I would say this was something to avoid, but it really is quite interesting if you give it a chance. While I won't be buying this by the cartload, I will be picking up another 4-pack to keep on hand. Plus the packaging would be great for Halloween or themed parties.

If you see this at your local shop, I recommend giving it a try, but don't let the first few sips scare you off.
© Maria Smith
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