“Two Southern Classics, One Legendary Taste,” is the marketing language emblazoning every bottle of Cheerwine Kreme, the unholy combination of, well, soda and doughnuts. While Krispy Kreme has graced the tastebuds of us Yankees for some time now, Cheerwine remains uniquely Southern. I’m not from the South, and something tells me the marriage of two foods known for being unhealthy will end in tears.
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Welcome to Gizmodo’s Happy Hour. We can hear your teeth screaming.
The first thing worth stating is that I have no idea what Cheerwine tastes like in its unadulterated state. I’m told it’s a light, cherry-flavored soft drink. And while my neighborhood in Brooklyn is home to two of the best doughnut shops in this once-great nation (Peter Pan’s and Moe’s Doughs, for the curious), I like Krispy Kreme just fine. They make light, oily, totally passable pastries that put Dunkin’ Donuts to shame.
Even at a theoretical level, doughnut soda should be disgusting. It’s not. Mainly because the “doughnut” element is only supposed to evoke only the taste of glaze—an ingredient which is almost entirely sugar... which is then combined with a drink that is also almost entirely sugar. There really isn’t much doughnuttyness to speak of. For a first experience with Cheerwine, it was a pleasant one, though I’m almost certainly on the fast track to a mouthful of cavities as a result.
But what do the Cheerwine experts say? Strangely the response from actual Southerners on Twitter was less than kind. Reactions ranged from disappointment to feelings of genuine betrayal. One guy said it tasted “like absolute shit,” which seems harsh for a product that is totally palatable if underwhelming.
As it stands, Cheerwine Kreme is a marketing ploy, and seemingly not a very successful one at that. While a previous partnership between these venerable North Carolina brands (a doughnut with Cheerwine-flavored creme) was by all accounts well received, the doughnut soda seems to have tapped into peoples’ ire. The way movie reboots have a habit of “ruining” someone’s childhood, messing with foods people feel regionally protective over is a sure-fire way to piss them off, even if an ignorant outsider like me can’t see what all the fuss is over.
On balance, Cheerwine Kreme is drinkable but too sweet, and tastes not at all like doughnuts, or glaze, or whatever the hell it was aiming for. And it’s probably not available where you live. Ironically, it surely would have sold better—and been better received—outside the pocket of people who had any strong feelings about Cheerwine to begin with. Pardon me while I make an appointment with the nearest dentist.