[Welcome to Here’s a thing, my take on reviews. Yes, the Solving post from last week should have been one of these. Anyhow, inspired by Movies with Mikey, I’m not going to bother with negative reviews. Instead, these posts will showcase things I like. No promises as to frequency, mind you; I don’t want this to become a review blog. But I do plan on reviewing things on the semi-regular.
Also, you should watch Movies with Mikey. It’s one of my top five channels on YouTube.
Monday update: These rankings will have to be updated once I finish off the bottles; several have shifted after a day’s tasting. The title of this post has been updated accordingly.]
I’m back on a ketogenic diet, and in fact currently fasting. Part of the problem with keto, particularly for someone like me who lives alone and doesn’t get a ton of pleasure out of cooking for one, is maintaining variety in what I consume. I’ve been drinking a lot of diet soda recently–way, way too much diet soda, to be honest–and last night I remembered Mio.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, Mio is a “water enhancer.” It’s a little squeeze bottle filled with a sugar-free hyper-concentrated liquid that you squirt into a glass of water or water bottle. It’s Crystal Light in a much more convenient form, really, and its only real downside is that at the flavor concentration I prefer it ends up being almost exactly as expensive as actual 12-packs of Coke Zero Sugar.
But it’s better for you, for sure, and way better for your teeth, so I was all prepared to place an order for a ton of different flavors on Amazon this morning when a pair of lines in one of the reviews stopped me: “Get walmart brand for about 30% less. Tastes the same.“
Now, I don’t know about you, but my general experience with Walmart’s Great Value brand is that it’s hot garbage. Their sodas are terrible, their knockoff of La Croix is even more undrinkable than the original (an impressive feat), their cookies taste like cardboard, and so on. I’d say that my success rate with the brand is in the low single digits.
On the other hand, it’s cheap, and I wanted to get out of the house today anyway. So I cruised on over to the Super Walmart in Lenoir and picked up seven different flavors for a whopping total of $14.14 and brought them home. Imagine my surprise when, pouring myself an ice-cold glass of water from my Brita pitcher in the fridge and squeezing the first flavor in–Cherry Limeade, the best-reviewed of the bunch–I discovered that, huh, this is actually really good!
I’ve actually made myself a glass of all seven flavors I bought today already. What can I say? I’m a thirsty boy, and an inquisitive one. Below are my hot-take rankings of the seven flavors, from best to worst, broken up into tiers a la characters in fighting games… because why not.
Lemonade: It tastes exactly like Country Time lemonade powder, which doesn’t taste anything like real lemonade. I imagine if you have fond memories of said beverage this would end up higher on your list; I don’t, really. It’s not disgusting, it’s just not what I want lemonade to taste like.
Strawberry Watermelon: This flavor is completely inoffensive, but it tastes like a watered-down watermelon Jolly Rancher, which is already one of the least strongly-flavored sugar delivery systems I know. Wherever the strawberry tones were hiding, I couldn’t find them. I still like it more than actual watermelon, though, so there’s that.
Strawberry Kiwi (has caffeine): Tastes identical to Crystal Light’s flavor of the same name. I used to love the crud out of said drink, so that speaks highly of the other flavors we’re about to discuss. You definitely get both the strawberry and the kiwi. Had this been the best flavor that Walmart brought to the table, I would have been mildly disappointed but also a bit surprised, given my general opinion of their house brand. But it doesn’t even make the top half.
Berry Blast (has caffeine): I took a sip of this and went, hmm, blueberries and strawberries. Then I looked at the picture on the label: blueberries and strawberries. Nailed it, me! The only real problem with this one is that it’s purple; I can’t stand artificial grape flavor thanks to taking Dimetapp when I was a kid, a cold medicine that transcends grapeness to taste purple. So I have an uncomfortable mental association with any beverage that looks like it might be even slightly Dimetapp-adjacent. Fortunately Berry Blast transcends its color. Totally yum.
Cherry Limeade (has caffeine): Turns out people were both right and wrong. This flavor is quite delicious! But it’s not the best. The cherry overwhelms the lime a bit, and as a major lime partisan I really wish the citrus tones were stronger. It also has a bit of a weird smell, although it tastes just fine. A slight tweak to the formula and I think it’d be at the top of the list, but even so I’m more than happy to drink it.
Fruit Punch: I may not have fond memories of Country Time lemonade powder, but I do have fond memories of fruit punch Kool-Aid. This tastes exactly like that; maybe a little weaker unless you really squeeze the bottle, but that’s actually a good thing. Of course, if this particular totally artificial flavor isn’t your thing, this one’s going to drop down to C Tier. I love it, though.
Raspberry Lemonade: Here’s the thing. I don’t even really like raspberries. I almost didn’t buy this flavor because of how “meh” I am on them. That would have been a damn travesty, though, because holy moly this is delicious. Unlike the Cherry Limeade, the lemon and raspberry components are perfectly balanced, and every sip is crisp and refreshing. I would have never ever guessed before all of my tasting that this flavor was going to be the winner… but it was so good that I had to tell my mother that she needed to go pick up some from her local Walmart pronto, since she loves raspberry.
Overall, I was really impressed. Even my least-favorite flavor, Lemonade, is totally drinkable, and the top three or four are worth keeping on hand at all times. I suspect I’ll be going through the Raspberry Lemonade like it’s going out of style.
For those of you who don’t drink a lot of water, or just want to try something a little different, hopefully this review will give you something out to try. (They’re in the “drink mixes” section, along with Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, and friends.) I’m curious as to your thoughts, in particular if you try these out yourself. Which flavors do you love? Hate? There were others at the store, but most were flavors that didn’t interest me at all; I’m not a sweet tea drinker, for example, and I find artificial orange to often be very cloying. Let me know if you give them a whirl!