Tuesday, May 23, 2006

gourmet's gallery: president's choice diet pomegranate sparkling soda

One of the latest crazes in the drink aisle is pomegranate. Previously known as either an ingredient in Persian dishes or that funny red fruit that's neat to pluck the seeds out of, many companies have jumped on the bandwagon to promote its antioxidant levels. I'm waiting for the inevitable Larry King pomegranate AM radio ad.

Loblaws has jumped into the fray with half-a-dozen pomegranate-based or related products, including today's test subject.

Aside: Loblaws' attempts to compete with Wal-Mart have turned me off. I used to like their grocery chains the best, but now...meh. Business papers have reported on Loblaws' struggles with their supply chain, as the company has moved too quickly into building Real Canadian Superstores. These problems are glaring whenever you walk into their stores: half-empty shelves, items in permanent disarray, specials not in stock, etc. The household items I have tried lack quality (storage containers with lids that won't stay on, socks with holes after one wear). Stores that shut down deli counters and store vegetables away long before closing time, especially odd given Loblaws does not run 24-hour stores like Metro/A&P (Dominion) or Sobeys. They also appear to be cannibalizing their own stores - I will be amazed if the Millwood/Redway Loblaws is open this time next year, as it's a ghost town on my rare trips there.

It's also interesting to note that Loblaws has closed most of their smaller neighbourhood locations in the past decade, embracing giant suburban stores, while smaller stores owned by Metro/A&P and Sobeys are opening or renovated. Based on a recent report in the Toronto Star, Loblaws may be learning a lesson as it looks at a new, half-superstore sized downtown store design.

Package Notes: Bubbly background with a sliced, high-contrast pomegranate. Note that it's "naturally flavoured", which I should have taken as an omen.

What It Tastes Like: Medicinal. Tried the first one warm and it tasted like carbonated cough syrup. Cold, it tasted like cold carbonated cough syrup. It even has the magenta hue of cherry Robitussin.

There are fruits I prefer artificial flavour over real, such as grapefruit. Pomegranate does not appear to fall into that category, unless the artificial sweeteners add that bouquet of Benylin.

Would You Buy It Again?: Not unless I require a chaser the next time I have a hacking cough.

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