Monday, September 23, 2019

Nostalgia is Weird, Ring Pops are Weirder

Ring Pop Freeze - Dollar Tree
I can still recite the late 90's Ring Pop jingle by heart. (And I'm sure I'm not the only one.) 
"It's a lollipop without a stick, a ring of favor you can lick! In Wacky and Sour flavors too. Ooh, Ring Pop!" Tune into my brain on any given day and you'll likely hear the Crossfire jingle playing on loop with the Dum-Dums commercial popping in now and again for good measure. 
As vividly as I remember these commercials and their jingles, they actually played a very small part in my childhood. I mean, I never even played Crossfire, and I had maybe one hand's worth of Ring Pops as a kid. Still, whenever I see these things dredged up on a Buzzfeed "90's kids remember" list I feel this overwhelming flood of unearned nostalgia. 
All that build up has lead us to this point. I, a 32-year old lady, with my own money, mortgage, and responsibilities, saw a weird flavor of Ring Pops at Dollar Tree and I bought them for myself. 
According to the bag there are supposed to be four flavors in this mix: Berry Punch Frost, Lemon Lime Chill, Blue Raspberry Ice, and Rainbow Sherbet. 
I bought these for one flavor, and one flavor only. Rainbow Sherbet. How are they going to make a singular flavored Ring Pop taste like a multi-flavored item? Why is it just orange? What about it makes it worthy of the name "Freeze?"  
Let's get to the bottom us this.
Once opened, the disappointment began to settle in. You get four Ring Pops in this bag, and there are four available flavors, so I assumed you'd get one of each flavor. That is not the case. Inside we have...
Two Berry Punch and Two Rainbow Sherbet. It's a bummer that I can't try all four flavors, but at least I get two of the one I am most interested in, Rainbow Sherbet, so it's not a complete loss.   
So right off the bat, who does this Ring Pop fit? As a kid I remember it being awkwardly loose on my main fingers so I mainly had to wear it on my thumb for easy eating, now, as an adult, it nearly fits my adult ring-finger, and (not to brag) but I have pretty big hands. Does this even fit children?  Are children even their target demographic anymore? I can't remember the last time I hung out with a kid and they even mentioned or showed interest in a Ring Pop. Are they just targeting former 90's kids and ravers? If so, it's working. 
So, how does rainbow sherbet taste? 
Mentholated. Well, one mystery solved and a new one started because these do not list menthol anywhere in the ingredients, but that is exactly what this tastes like. The "freeze" aspect comes from a cooling minty sensation and (most likely) artificial sweeteners that also create a cooling effect. Cool concept as far as execution, but it doesn't taste great. 
You get that slightly medicinal effect of the cooling mint mixed with fake sugar and an artificial orange flavoring with a hint of raspberry. While orange and raspberry are two components in rainbow sherbet, I am really missing the lime. It's okay, but not great. 
The berry version is somehow even worse! There's a generic fruitiness to it, which isn't half-bad, but the minty medicinal effect is twice as intense in this flavor. This tastes like cough drops you would have gotten from the school nurse. I was looking for childhood nostalgia, but this is not the flashback I had in mind and it seems I'm not alone
Fans of these may also like: Flaming Moe novelty Energy Drinks, Candy Crush Fish, Rainbow Twizzlers, and reminding the teacher they forgot to collect the homework.    
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