The Guilty Pleasure: Hansen's kale-flavored soda. Where to Get It: Your favorite natural foods store, as long as their buyer has a sense of humor. Price: Three or four bucks a six-pack. What it Really Costs: Lucy, you got some 'splainin to do! (Also, as with any soda: Whoa, lots of sugar!)
I'm somewhat grateful that Peak Kale has passed. The cruciferous green was once relegated to decorating salad bars. Then, kale became a wondrous superfood. Kale salads, kale chips, questionable kale smoothies, you name it.
The insane demand for kale has waned somewhat in recent months. But there's still the occasional outlier who thinks that kale should go in something where kale shouldn't really be.
Case in point: Hansen's, a popular brand of natural soda, has released kale soda as a limited-time promotional item.
You read that right, friends. Kale. Soda.
The ingredient list is simple enough: Bubbly water, sugar, citric acid, and natural flavorings. Which, by that last one, they mean kale flavoring. Since they didn't add any coloring to it, the soda pours completely clear. It's sort of like a Sprite from hell.
The aroma, as one would expect, has that distinctive dark green kale scent.
Tasting the drink revealed that this oddball soda has a reasonably sophisticated flavor. Or, as a friend put it when he tried it, "disturbingly refreshing". The flavor profile unfolds in the same order as the ingredient list: Sweet from the sugar, then a little brightness from the citric acid, before settling into mellow dark green kale flavor with the slightest hint of bitterness.
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All told, Hansen's kale soda is a hell of a lot better than I expected. However, that was an awfully low bar to clear. I see it going quite well with rich, grease-laden foods such as the pretzel-crust pizza I discussed last week. Or after yard work on a warm day.
Or maybe I'll try it with a scoop of ice cream to make a kale float, because kale soda on its own just isn't disturbing enough.