Category: Orange/Grapefruit Soda, Grapefruit Soda
Ratings (out of 5)
Taste: Cactus Cooler 3, Squirt 3
Fizziness Factor: Cactus Cooler 3, Squirt 3
Bottle/Can Design: Cactus Cooler 4, Squirt 4
Availability: Cactus Cooler 1, Squirt 1
Which dark horse bottled under the authority of Dr. Pepper/7UP will win the Obscure Grapefruit Soda Derby? First up is Cactus Cooler, a Southern California regional favorite (?) whose flavor purports to be "Orange Pineapple Blast." The truth is that it tastes exactly—and I mean molecule for molecule—like a mildly carbonated, liquid version of Bayer's Orange Children's Aspirin circa the late 1970s. It's astoundingly sweet, and it's even got that chalkiness that dries out your mouth and makes you want another one, even though you know it's gonna make you feel pukey and you'll have to go lie down.
Squirt, thankfully, is not so saccharine. It even tastes somewhat like a grapefruit (as interpreted by Willy Wonka). It's murky yellowish color makes it look more "natural" than the neon orange Cactus Cooler, and it does contain about 1% bona fide grapefruit juice. Another ingredient in Squirt (and Cactus Cooler) is something called esther of wood rosin. When I see the word "rosin," I immediately think of is the fiddle competition in "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," but apparently this rosin is more about stabilizing citrus oils than outplaying Satan. As for the competition between Cactus Cooler and Squirt, it ended in a dead heat. Both of them go to 11, but not in a good way. (Total Scores: Cactus Cooler 11, Squirt 11)