Inside the Label – R.W. Knudsen Sparkling Essence


Each year, 18,000 new products are introduced to supermarkets across the country.

With temperatures rising and summer almost here, beverage manufacturers are in high gear, promoting their new drinks. (Our local waterworks are not so industrious. Same old tap water, again.)

So we weren’t surprised when, a few weeks ago, we got an email from juice company R.W. Knudsen informing us of a new product line launching this month called Sparkling Essence.

We had our loyal reader Brook from Eugene, Oregon try out the drinks with his family and friends. In the meantime we analyzed the nutrition info.

Click on to learn what Brook had to say,  what his mother-in-law thought, and how this drink stacks up nutritionally…

What you need to know:

Sparkling Essence is sparkling water that comes in 4 flavors:
organic lemons, cooling mint, whole blueberries, and fresh cucumbers.

According to the company they use real organic ingredients, brew them in pure spring water, and then remove everything except the essence.  The result: a light and refreshing flavor, but without any calories, added sugar, or artificial ingredients.

Here’s what our product testers had to say:

- “…attractive four-packs with slim, 10.5 oz cans.”

- “Better than the aquafina and dasani flavored waters.”

- “It’s basically club soda with added flavoring.”

- “Everyone’s favorite flavor was cucumber. That’s probably because real cucumber doesn’t have much sugar in it, so a sugar-free version of the vegetable tastes reasonably similar to the real thing.”

- “All flavors were very crisp and quite good when cold … [like] drinking an ice-cold beer on a very hot day. So they’re refreshing.”

- “The drink smells better than it tastes, however. You open the blueberry and you catch a whiff of fresh blueberries when you crack it open. Then it tastes like club soda (no surprise) with a tiny hint that there might have been blueberries there, once.”

- “The drink is lightly carbonated. Most my family members and friends liked this fact. I didn’t like it – if you left it in a glass for more than a few minutes, it would lose all its carbonation. It HAS to be ice cold or it’s kind of weird.”

- Mother-in-law: “I didn’t like it, it would be a waste of money, it had a metallic taste, and if I wanted something like that, I’d just have water and squeeze lemon into it. It would taste better. ”

- “Most everyone hated the mint flavor (tastes like toothpaste or Scope).”

- “Everyone who had one was happy to recognize every ingredient in the ingredient list.”

Thanks Brook!

Now let’s take a nutritional look at the crowd favorite – the cucumber flavored drink:

A serving size is one can, or 10.5 fl oz. Just like tap water, there are absolutely no nutrients here. No good ones, no bad ones. Zero calories, no fat, no sugar, no carbs.

The ingredient list boasts: Carbonated Spring Water, Organic Brewed Lemon Extract, Organic Natural Cucumber Extract, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid.

Pretty much self explanatory except for the last item. Citric acid is a natural preservative that is used in beverages to add an acidic, sour taste. Although it is naturally found in citrus fruit (oranges, lemons), industry has a found a cheaper way to manufacture it. This is through a fermentation process in which a mold called Aspergillus niger is used to ferment a carbohydrate such as molasses. sounds grosser than it really is.

What to do at the supermarket:

R.W. Knudsen Sparkling Essence seems like a nice refreshing drink, and certainly isn’t bad for you.If you’re going to choose between this and Sprite, you know what we’d recommend.

However, we sort of  liked  mother-in-law’s observation. Call us cheap, but refrigerated tap water with a slice of lemon and some mint leaves can do the trick for you on a hot summer day, and still leave some change in your pocket.

Either way, stay hydrated this summer!

Disclosure: Ah, the perks of food blogging…R.W. Knudsen’s PR firm contacted us and offered to send  evaluation samples. We had them sent to a family of volunteer testers. We did not pay for the samples. We were not paid to post this blog nor were we instructed in any which way regarding its content. In fact, we forewarned the manufacturer that we are skeptical and scathing of most processed products available at the supermarket. If you would like to have something new and possibly tasty sent to your house, why not become a Fooducate Product Tester? Just comment below or shoot us an email: blog [at] fooducate [dot] com.

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