January 29, 2013

An icy reception for Target Sparkling Chill

Sparkling Chill -- all the flavor of an ice cube.
I haven't been too hot to write today's food review.

That's not because it's going to be any sub-par piece of critiquing. Never would I do that to my everlastingly loyal readers. It's just, well, I don't want to think too much about today's subject.

Target Sparkling Chill* looks like it should be a pleasant drink. A substantial red color permeates the black raspberry version we're taste-testing today, and the beverage comes in an attractive tall, skinny bottle. Its minimalist label doesn't hurt the whole package, either. Simple. Sophisticated. Seemingly satisfying.

Too bad the drinking experience doesn't match the look. Unless you consider fizzy and flavorless to somehow stand in for simple, sophisticated and satisfying, you'll be disappointed upon first swig. And next swig. And every subsequent swig after that.

I've had tonic water with more flavor than Sparkling Chill. I've also had tonic water with roughly the same amount of flavor as this stuff -- and I hated it just as much.

If only "hate" were too strong a word for this beverage. But if anything, it's not strong enough. Fluids like Sparkling Chill merit everlasting disdain for the way they make drinking a torturous experience. They're so atrocious, I'll argue they pull off the impossibility of having two worst parts: The near-complete lack of flavor and the aftertaste that can only be described as nasty.

The lack of flavor wouldn't be as much of a problem if the black raspberry version of Sparkling Chill didn't present itself with that aforementioned healthy red flavor. There you sit, ready to enjoy a burst of fruit, only to be punished with a glorified combination of food coloring and sparkling water. What a letdown.

And then that aftertaste kicks in, puckering the throat and threatening to begin a vicious cycle. It's one of the few things worse on the tongue than actually drinking Sparkling Chill, so you'll want to drown it in another sip almost as soon as you finish swallowing your last one. Next you'll want another sip. And another. Perhaps Target plans to sell its Sparkling Chill by locking customers into this wretched loop. It would certainly be more effective than marketing the fluid based on its flavor.

Now it's time for the one moment I actually have been looking forward to in this review, the moment when I assign Sparkling Chill a spork rating. I seriously considered saddling this monstrosity with a negative number before deciding to reserve that territory for fare that physically sickens. Instead, I'm slapping on an icy zero out of five sporks and pushing everything about this train wreck as far from my mind as possible.

*Astute readers will note I'm not following Sparkling Chill's label presentation of all lowercase letters. This contrasts with previous vitaminwater reviews surrendering to that beverage's labels. The reason for the discrepancy is simple: Sparkling Chill didn't earn enough respect to merit conforming to its dubious.style.

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