History: Walk around the markets of New Orleans, and it won’t take you long to smell it. Stroll by the little pop-up shops along the streets of the French Quarter, and you’ll feel the heat radiating against your face as you whiz by. And then you hear it echo from the voices of the candy makers, almost like a beer vendor at a baseball game, “They’re hawt. They’re fresh. Who wants pray-leeens?” I’m attempting and doing a horrible job of dictating a Louisiana accent, but what I’m referring to are praline pecans. Basically what happens is someone takes something healthy for you, a nut, then cooks it in a warm concoction of butter, brown sugar and milk until it becomes something that can wrangle your heart into submission and your stomach into ecstasy. You can find praline pecans all over the country, but it’s a staple sugary snack down in The Pelican State. Cajun cousins, John Petersen and Colin Cormier, decided to transform the modern cream soda into something distinctly Louisiana by infusing their take with the taste of pralines. Petersen and Courmier founded Lousiana’s best-known craft soda bottler, Swamp Pop, in 2013. The Lafayette-based company takes its name from the 1950’s music genre of the same name that was popular in the region. Give it a Google. Kind of sounds like soulful Doo-Wop meets bluesy rock. Swamp Pop produces six different flavors. Petersen says they try to create their “flavor profiles in layers.” A quick Internet search reveals the general public finds Swamp Pop Soda especially sugary. Our past reviews of Noble Cane Cola and Ponchatoula Pop Rouge confirm those notions. Speaking of sugar, Swamp Pop uses only 100% pure Louisiana cane sugar in their sodas as well as natural coloring. Out of all their flavors, Praline Cream Soda is Swamp Pop’s rainmaker. In other words, it’s the best seller. My hypothesis: people like something that’s different. Another strong possibility: the flavor. Swamp Pop Public Relations Representative Anna Whitlow tells us the flavor is “supposed to be kind of a brown butter, praline flavor” before adding that it also tastes nutty and creamy. The more she describes it, the more apparent it becomes how rich this is going to taste. Like, maybe-you-should-change-into-sweatpants-before-you-drink-it, rich. Joke’s on you Swamp Pop, I already am. Writing about soda on the Internet, living my life one elastic-waisted pair of pants at a time.
Where to get: Swamp Pop Praline Cream Soda is sold nationally at Cracker Barrel restaurants as well as Cost Plus World Market stores. You can also buy it online directly from the company in four-packs for under $10. Trust us, for buying soda on the Internet, that’s a deal. To find the closest Swamp Pop retailer near you, type your info into the company’s online locator.
Nose: Butterscotch and toffee. Very similar to the smell of Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. Smells like you should grab one of these after a class at Hogwarts.
Taste: Butterscotch; butter pecan ice cream; vanilla; creamy toffee; sugar. This is a very rich, very flavorful, and v e r y sweet cream soda. It’s especially heavy and thick on the palate with strong notes of butterscotch sweetness and the creamy flavor of butter pecan ice cream. The latter tasting notes really give it that signature praline flavor you see written on the label. Definitely different from other creams. This is anchored by an intense sweetness of primarily butterscotch and toffee flavors that swirl together throughout the soda’s body. There’s a lot of sugary sweetness to this soda. Very, very, very sweet. But it’s also very creamy. I’d say maybe even a 9/10 on the creamy scale with a thick head, so it’s very strong on that front. The more you drink it, the more you adjust to the sugar and the more those butter pecan notes come through. Swamp Pop’s Praline Cream Soda is a unique one that lives up to its name and packs a an especially sweet, but flavorful punch.
Finish: Creamy vanilla with lingering butter pecan ice cream. Not as sweet as the body. Excellent. 10/10 on the finish.
Rating: It may be 2016, but it’s really only been within the past couple years that bottlers have decided to get inventive with cream soda. Swamp Pop went beyond left field. They left the ball park to create their Praline Cream Soda. It retains a thick creaminess you might in other cream sodas, but its flavors are completely foreign. Butterscotch. Butter pecan ice cream. Toffee. These are the three main flavors you’ll taste here. Butterscotch and toffee form the base of the soda’s flavor profile and are consistent throughout each sip, but it’s that creamy butter pecan taste that gives the soda its true identity. Unlike the the butterscotch and toffee notes, the butter pecan ice cream works as more an undercurrent in the soda, occasionally rising up and splashing into the main flavor profile before receding away for a few sips. That give and take makes you lust for the flavor more. It really works. Where Swamp Pop’s Praline Cream Soda raises some hesitation from me is its sweetness. This is sweeter than watching a gaggle of Golden Retriever puppies struggling to fall asleep. At times it’s just too much for me and I can generally handle sweet sodas well. So I’d recommend sipping this one. I’d also recommend putting it on ice cream. Would make a great float. Overall that meandering creamy butter pecan flavor combined with the overall thick mouth feel and frothy head on the soda make this too enticing to pass up. If you don’t have a problem with high-intensity sweet sodas, this might leave a serious lasting impression on you. Its flavor profile should do that regardless. If you happen across a bottle of this, you’d be missing a unique experience by passing it up.