The orange-and-black packaging on the Sunkist Solar Fusion tricked me into adding the two-liter to my shopping cart this week. But like the brightly colored clown fish, it was just a setup for the harsh sting of the anemone inside.
This beverage is an unfortunate blend of energy drink and soft drink -- I'll call it a soft energy drink. It's infused with caffeine and vitamin B.
When I unscrewed the cap, I got an explosive whiff of mandarin oranges -- the syrup-laden, mashed-up-in-a-fruit-cup version. While regular orange Sunkist is a bright soda, neon doesn't even begin to describe Solar Fusion when poured -- it's the kind of orange that would show up under black light. And whereas orange soda can be opaque, the soft energy drink is just like putting a liquid orange filter into the glass.
It's fizzy in the glass, but the drink seems less carbonated than a soft drink. That was one of the pleasant things about this drink: It was closer to seltzer than soda -- metallic, soul-destroying orange seltzer -- but seltzer nonetheless.
Though the bottle describes it as a "tropical mandarin flavored-soda," it tastes like a watered-down McDonald's orange drink, and the finish is pure energy drink, like Amp -- slightly acrid, which I would suspect is from the added caffeine. At this rate, we should just flavor our No Doz and be done with it.
I'm not sure how the soft energy drink market succeeds. Orange-soda drinkers won't like the bitter aftertaste, and I've yet to meet an energy-drink enthusiast who is clamoring for a sweeter product. What worked once for Jolt is jarring inside of a tropical mandarin soda.
Leave this one on the shelf.