History: Jared Toay was in the money management business. He was a suit and tie man. Now he earns his living making popsicles and craft sodas. Business may be a little more casual these days, but it’s still just as serious, because instead of dollar signs, Jared’s Pro Pops is about your health. Healthy soda? Seriously? Stay with me here. The Pro in “ProPops” stands for probiotic. Think of probiotics as good bacteria. “They actually help break down the sugars and break down the food so your body absorbs the nutrients,” says Toay. In other words, they help your digestion and immune system. Toay started his business making popsicles simply because his kids liked them. Through trial and error, he eventually got it down to a science, concocting traditional flavors like Strawberry and Watermelon to wild ones like Spicy Pineapple and Picklesicle. After wanting a little more variety, he ventured into soda. Everything in Jared’s ProPops Soda is organic. They’re made with water kefir, which is just a fancy way of saying probiotic water. Kefir can actually help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. The whole point of Toay’s venture into this is giving people healthy, delicious alternatives to what’s already out there. He’s trying to make products that improve overall wellness, a novel concept in the world of soda.
Where to get: Jared’s ProPops is based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can order his popsicles directly from his site. As for soda, you can order that too, it just isn’t on the site yet. Contact Toay directly through his site, and he’ll hook you up.
Nose: Fresh vanilla bean; mild maple syrup; raisin; molasses. A lot going on for the senses to process here. Raisin and vanilla bean dominate, but quite varied on the nose for a soda.
Taste: Vanilla bean; molasses; raisin glaze; earthy, light sugar. This is not what you’ll be expecting with “cream soda” on the label. Because this is an all-organic product, remember that everything is going to taste more earthy and less sugary. Vanilla is very up front, but it’s more of a natural vanilla bean taste than vanilla syrup. This isn’t as sweet as a prototypical cream soda because the good bacteria in the soda’s kefir water actually eat sugar. The goal, after all, is to ingest probiotics and not unnecessary sugar. That said, there is a mild cane sugar taste to this that washes over the tongue after the vanilla. Once that fades, you’re left with notes of raisin and molasses, both of which are ingredients. Lots of flavors going on in this bottle.
Finish: Faint vanilla and cane sugar that transition into sweet raisins. Perhaps most interesting is the tartness that comes in right at the very end. This is due to the use of apple cider vinegar. It’s surprising, but nice and not overwhelming.
Rating: This is a hard one to rate because its taste won’t be for everyone. Some will be turned off by its less intense, earthier flavor profile, while organic purists may drink this down like water in the desert. We’re trying to look at this as somewhere in between those two groups. Jared’s ProPops Cream Soda has a complicated flavor profile, even for a craft soda. Typically vanilla-flavored beverages are overly sweet and dominated by that one flavor. The vanilla here tastes very natural and is complimented by prominent raisin and molasses flavors. Like most, we’re used to those flavors being more intense than they are here. We’ll be honest, it’s a little weird, and that’s why we think you should try it. Also, it’s full of good bacteria for your digestive and immune systems. It’s soda that’s good for you. It’s soda that’s healthy. And it’s not every day you get to say something like that.