Jones Soda calls itself “the people’s craft soda” because it sources everything from flavor ideas to label pictures and under the cap fortunes from its drinkers.
“We do things that are a little bit wild, and we do things … that are tasty, and we do everything in between,” said Curt Thompson director of brand marketing with Jones Soda.
This newest flavor, Hatch Green Chile and Lime, certainly falls into the category of a little bit wild.
New Mexico is familiar with the green chile flavor. The state produces more than 50,000 acres of the crop annually, the state question, “Red or Green?” refers to chile and the community of Hatch, in Southern New Mexico, is known as the “Chile Capital of the World.” The state’s cuisine is filled with green chile options — residents stack the vegetable on burgers and pizza and use its spice to flavor beer, wine, jerky and even custard.
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After Jones sent a case of “Hatch Green Chile and Lime” soda to the Albuquerque newsroom, Journal staff did a taste test and gave their honest opinions of the beverage, ranging somewhere between “it’s not bad” to “no, can’t do it.”
The special release can be ordered online now and will be rolling out to retailers — including Smith’s, Walmart and some Target locations — over the next month or so.
In an interview, Thompson shared more about the flavor selection process and what to expect from this latest special release.
Thompson’s responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Can you tell me a little bit about the process of creating new flavors?
Yeah, it’s a couple of different things. We do have a place on our website where you can submit your favorite flavor ideas, and we get hundreds of submissions, actually thousands of submissions annually. So a lot of it comes from people who drink our soda. From there, we do pull it down, and we’d look at flavor trends, things that are new and interesting.
Where did the idea for a Hatch green chile soda come from?
Good question. I know that that it is something that has come up in consumer suggestions — Hatch chile, specifically. But I don’t recall if we had a flavor suggestion for Hatch Chile and Lime. We did pull the Hatch chile (idea) from the website or from you know, our suggestions, and then worked to figure out how to make it into something that tasted good. And that’s how we landed on Hatch Chile and Lime.
Is there actual Hatch green chile in there? Or is it a chemically engineered process to recreate the flavors?
It’s complicated. I’ll say that the flavor is made with both natural and artificial flavors. And what that means is, well, it’s complicated. There are those flavors that do come from Hatch chiles.
Can you describe the flavor?
It’s really fun, actually, because as soon as you open it, it is very fragrant. It smells very much like Hatch chiles, but it is not. It’s a very mild spice. We did a lot of testing to get the spice levels just right, and landed on a mild spice for drinkability. When you taste it, the first thing you get is a Hatch chile taste followed by a hint of lime. It’s a great pairing with spicy foods. It’s also great as a mixer, and we’re actually working on some recipes for cocktails to make with it.