I'll give Taco Bell credit -- it takes guts to introduce a new limeade to a town that already has versions from Topsy's, Winstead's and Sonic firmly entrenched. But courage and a busy food science lab doesn't mean that the classic limeade and cherry limeade sparklers are worth your $1.69. The proof lies at the end of the straw-scoop hybrid.
Classic Limeade Sparkler
The small print in the current ad campaign tells me there is between 3 percent and 5 percent real lime juice in every sparkler. For some reason when chains tell me they use real ingredients, it makes me more suspicious -- i.e., what's in the other 97 to 95 percent.
As it turns out: Sierra Mist. There's also a real lime wedge pinned to the side of the plastic cup by ice. The drink tastes just like its three ingredients. It's essentially a lime Sierra Mist. Great limeades are tart upfront and at the back, with a connector of sweetness. This limeade just alternates between lemon-lime flavor and bursts of lime tartness. You could have the same effect at home fairly easily by squirting a lime wedge into your soda can.
Cherry Limeade Sparkler
The cherry limeade sparkler is incredible in that I've never had a drink that seemed to showcase maraschino cherries -- it puts the Rob Roy and Shirley Temple to shame.
Bang. It's a big punch of maraschino cherry juice to your tastebuds that settles down into the same flavors as the classic limeade. The color is a soft pink -- the same as raspberry ginger ale or pink lemonade.
While the Lime Sierra Mist has a bit more tartness than your average lemon-lime soda, the unbalanced sips are its undoing. Both taste like flavored sodas and are perhaps ushering in a more refined Taco Bell. If so, Demolition Man was right and Taco Bell just got a leg up in the fast food wars.
But as for a limeade -- there are too many other, better options in town. Save your money and put it toward a down payment on a fresh Topsy's at Kauffman Stadium.