History: Prepare yourself for a taste of the midwest… in soda form. Gooey Butter Cake is a regional treat found throughout the heart of the U.S., but St. Louis, Missouri is the city most often associated with it. Think of it like an extremely moist, extremely rich vanilla brownie with a top layer of gooey batter that has a slight cheesecake flavor. It’s a decadent experience. One will fill you up. Three should put you in a coma. Excel Bottling Company out of Breese, Illinois decided the world needed this extravagant dessert in liquid form, and thus Gooey Butter Cake Soda was born in early 2016, becoming the company’s newest soda. While the soda is one of the newest in existence in the craft soda market, the company behind it is one of the oldest. Excel Bottling Sales and Communications Manager Colton Huelskamp tells the story of how in 1936 “founder, Edward ‘Lefty’ Meier, caught a bank robber a town over and used the reward money to purchase a used bottle washer and filler.” You could say, Meier put him on ice. You could say, the criminal’s efforts fell flat. Sorry. Like many other old time-y bottlers, Excel has always used pure cane sugar, according to Huelskamp. A major function of Excel Bottling upon its founding was providing the local community with fine fizzy beverages during the time of the Great Depression. They’ve since expanded the operation to include beer and are now up to around 20 different flavors of soda. The weirdest, undoubtedly, is Gooey Butter Cake. I mean, dude, come onnnnn. That’s like someone saying, “Yo, you know what would make this cupcake better? If it was soda.” The company is well aware of the stereotype, so they tested the flavor out last year at a local chain of stores. It did well enough to warrant a more permanent spot on the bottling line. “Yes this is an insane flavor to produce,” Huelskamp admits, “but not as insane as some other flavors that are out there.” The taste is described as similar to cream soda, but with “a subtle butter hint.” I’m just… I’m skeptical. Wouldn’t you be? I’m intrigued. I’m attracted. But I’m skeptical. Then again, dessert in a bottle doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world.
Where to get: Currently, due to its new status, Gooey Butter Cake Soda is hyper local. According to the company’s Facebook page, you can find it around the St. Louis, MO/Breese, IL region at “Tru Buy, CC Food Mart, and Super Valu.” Your best bet is to contact the company directly and place an order with them. They’re really nice people and will quench your thirst.
Nose: Buttery vanilla. Lots of vanilla, honestly. It smells kind of like a rich version of artificial vanilla. I know that sounds kind of like a slam, but if this was a candle, I’d put them all throughout my house. It reminds me a lot of Shasta Cream Soda.
Taste: Vanilla; buttery; heavy; tangy. Gooey Butter Cake closely resembles a cream soda, but feels heavier on the palate. Buttery vanilla is the main takeaway flavor you’ll taste in this bottle. It’s rich. It’s heavy. A soda you should sip and not swig unabashed. There’s a tanginess to this that doesn’t really lend itself to vanilla or butter, which is why I’d attribute it akin to an artificial flavor. Not a bad thing – most sodas are made with artificial ingredients… you can just taste it here. Particularly near the end of the sip. I think what’s most striking about the flavor of Gooey Butter Cake is just how much it tastes like a retro cream soda you’d drink as a child. Buttery vanilla notes anchored by a tanginess not typical of a cream soda is the TL;DR version of this beverage.
Finish: Tangy vanilla. Slightly artificial. Slightly creamy after the tanginess fades. Lingers perhaps a couple seconds too long for me.
Rating: Gooey Butter Cake Soda is a novelty flavor many will drink for giggles or avoid entirely, but it’s surprisingly solid despite it’s oddball roots. I know the majority of you are just in shock that this is a thing. Us too. What a world we live in, right? Now to the important things. The flavor is reminiscent of old school canned cream soda with an added buttery richness. If you’ve ever had Gooey Butter Cake, you know it’s like eating a soft, buttery vanilla brownie. It’s an amazing experience in the moment, but the aftereffect is like filling your stomach with a thousand balloons. Excel Bottling’s Soda doesn’t give you either of these sensations, though it is a fairly heavy soda to ingest. You’d be better off to sip this one or put in on ice to slightly dilute it. You’ll taste tart vanilla softened by heavy butter notes. The outcome is a slightly creamy, rich experience. Gooey Butter Cake is undoubtedly a relative of cream soda. In fact, it’s almost a dead ringer for Shasta’s take on the category. It’s like a cream soda that ran away from home, messed around a bunch, and came back home with this as its child. It’s a cream soda, but it’s not. The butteriness is something you don’t taste in traditional creams. There’s also a distinct tanginess near the end of each sip and on the finish. It’s also heavier than a lot of cream sodas because of that buttery taste. So it’s familiar, but different at the same time. The positives? Despite the uninspired label on the bottle, but this is a legit soda worth trying, so that’s a win. The vanilla is nice. The buttery notes give this relative of cream soda a nice variance that separates it from the field. The cons? The tanginess. I liked it at first, but it really outstays its welcome. It never overpowers the vanilla notes, but it’s prominent enough that you start to think about it too much. It has has too much of an artificial flavor and lingers too long on the finish. I like the soda, but if I didn’t see “pure cane sugar” on the bottle, I’d probably assume it was made with corn syrup. That said, I’m not trying to bash Excel’s Gooey Butter Cake Soda. I like it. It surprised me in an overall positive manner. I enjoy the buttery vanilla and nostalgic flavors. I’d drink it again. It won’t be for everyone, but if you’re looking for an adventure, Gooey Butter Cake Soda is worth the risk.