Jic Jac is a vintage soda brand that was bottled in the 1950’s by the Jic Jac Company of St. Louis, Missouri. They produced soda in multiple flavors until sometime around 1975 to 1978, although I have been unable to find any reliable documentation.
The Jic Jac soda line has been brought back by Orca Beverage Soda Company, and they bottle the Jic Jac flavors in 12-ounce bottles at their “retro soda facility” in Mukilteo, Washington.
The flavors available are black cherry, blue raspberry, grape, and lemon-lime. Whether this is the same as the original line, I do not know.
The company does not provide much information on the original company or its history, other than to say:
Jic Jac originated in St. Louis and was bottled throughout the U.S. during the early 1950’s with the popular advertising slogans “Just say Jic Jac” and “Pick a Pack of Jic Jac”. Known for multiple fun flavors, Jic Jac was a popular regional brand that saw success around the country before being pushed aside by the giant corporate brands that dominated store shelves in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Of course, a lot is made of the fact that it is made with cane sugar. I am not of the opinion that most people will be able to tell the difference between this and corn syrup sodas, unless maybe they have two bottles of the same soda, one with cane sugar and one with HFCS, and can compare them back to back. Even then, I’m not so sure!
I got a hold of a bottle of blue raspberry flavor Jic Jac along with an assortment of vintage sodas. I know, I know, blue raspberry, right? Raspberries aren’t blue and nothing in nature is the bright blue color of the well-known (at least to your kids) blue raspberry flavor of drinks and candy.
Well, actually, blue raspberry is a real thing. The original flavor was supposed to be based on a raspberry called a “whitebark raspberry.” These raspberries are a dark purplish-blue color…more like blackberries than the raspberries we’re all familiar with. They are also called black raspberries, and often blue raspberries, as well. These berries are more tart and juicy than red ones and they started being used as a flavor base in the 1950’s.
Of course, the berries, and the juice they produce are nowhere near the color of the bright blue raspberry flavor color. There is not a berry on Earth that comes in this color but if you wanted to introduce a new blue raspberry flavor, and differentiate from regular raspberry and the other colors, like red and purple, that were already around, what would you do? Unless you wanted to have people saying, “where do they get off calling THIS, blue?” you’d probably do the same thing the blue raspberry flavor inventer guy did.
Did they have this crazy bright blue color back in the 1950’s, when Jic Jac was first being produced? You betcha they did. The color dye that is responsible is FD&C Blue No. 1, which is sometimes called Brilliant Blue FCF. This color was first produced in 1929. Blue Raspberry Snow Cones? You could get those in the 50’s as well. That it was in use as much as it is today, however, is doubtful.
I also do not know exactly when Jic Jac Soda Company originally went defunct. I was very much alive and kicking during the 1970’s and if Jic Jac had a big following as Orca claims, it had either fizzled out by this time or just never extended to my neck of the woods.
Review of the Jic Jac Blue Rasberry
So, I’d like to tell you nothing but glowing things about the Jic Jac blue raspberry. Well, I can’t exactly glow about it but there are some good things about it.
First of all, blue raspberry today is an over-sweet and over-tart concoction that absolutely screams desperation: Look at me; taste me! It’s really something only a kid could appreciate.
Therefore, I can at least attest that Jic Jac, which boasts actual raspberry extracts on its ingredient list, isn’t like this. It is not overly tart and the flavor is a pleasant fruity-berry sort of thing. It had a good amount of carbonation, as well. Did I detect something I could call raspberry in the taste? Not really. It tasted like any artificially flavored fruit soda, except with a little less of a chemical edge and a bit more fruitiness (although it was a general sense of fruitiness rather than an actual taste I could recognize).
Whether these raspberry extracts listed on the label are from the blue raspberry I just discussed..there is no way to know. I could contact the manufacturer but does it really matter? I would guess that if it were the actual whitebark raspberry, they would list it as such.
My overall impression: My son loved it. I didn’t hate it. But does it stand out in a way that separates it from the vast fruit-flavor pack? Nah. Not when you consider the fact that you will have to go out of your way to find it, or order it online and pay mucho for shipping. And your kids? There is a lot of nostalgia for vintage or “retro” soda brands right now but just because it used to be consumed in the 50’s does not mean it is out of this world fantastic.
Compared to the one other blue raspberry soda I’ve ever tasted? Well, compared to that, Jic Jac was top-notch.
After I had already posted this, I found that I also had a strawberry flavor Jic Jac that I had forgotten about among the assortment of sodas I had bought.
The strawberry does not boast any strawberry extracts; just the typical artificial and natural flavorings. The strawberry flavor is more pronounced than some other strawberry flavored sodas, but of course, as is typical, my taste buds became muddied after the first few swallows so the pronounced strawberry sensation did not last. I drank it a bit more slowly and was able to pick it up again. The carbonation is good and, as fruit-flavored sodas go, it is a good one.
Overall, my impression is that Jic Jac is a better than average soda but not head and shoulders above any other fruit flavored soda brand.
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