"Pleasantly disgusting:" Who's buying all those Thanksgiving-flavored sodas and snacks?

From Jones Soda's Turkey and Gravy flavor to TJ’s Stuffing Seasoned Popcorn, Thanksgiving has hit the snack aisle

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published November 10, 2023 1:30PM (EST)

Thanksgiving food on forks (Getty Images/Maren Caruso)
Thanksgiving food on forks (Getty Images/Maren Caruso)

Every year, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, Jones Soda rolls out its collection of seasonal-themed beverages. The brand’s soda flavors aren’t anything like your classic Sierra Mist or Orange Crush. In fact, they’re quite the opposite. Think savory, dinner-themed sodas — mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing are just a few menu items that are served up as fizzy drinks.  

Jones Soda’s most popular Thanksgiving-flavored offering is the Turkey and Gravy soda, which is exactly what its name suggests. Of course, It’s only natural to wonder why someone would be compelled to spend more than $45 on a soda that sounds far from appetizing. But surprisingly, many people do.

“It seemed to have notes of orange in it like a citrus bribe or something over a savory bird, a hint of saltiness along with the sugary sweetness of a soda,” wrote one customer in an online review. “I would like to see some notes of sage in it to give it a bit more of a gravy flavor but it was pleasantly disgusting, though not nearly as revolting as I expected.”

Similarly, another eager customer described the soda as “a mix of savory and sweet...something most sodas don't have.” They added, “As the title of this review says, I got this, just to say, ‘Yeah, I tried it!’”

Jones Soda is just one of many brands that have jumped on an ongoing trend of snacks centered around classic Thanksgiving flavors. Unlike most holiday-themed foods, Thanksgiving snacks push the limits of wacky food pairings. There’s American Roasted Turkey Flavor Cheetos, which are interestingly a unique flavor only found in China, but available for purchase via online retailers in the states. There’s Pillsbury’s turkey-shaped sugar cookies and Goldfish’s Dunkin' Pumpkin Spice Grahams — two snacks that are more conventional than far-fetched. And there’s Jones Soda’s Sugar Cookie-flavored drink, which comes in a pack with the Turkey and Gravy soda… because nothing screams Thanksgiving like dinner followed by dessert.

Because Thanksgiving season is solely reserved for the month of November, Thanksgiving-themed snack foods are short-lived but also, incredibly popular. Jones Soda’s Turkey and Gravy drink, for one, is a common sight across Reddit, where brave taste testers eagerly share their reviews. The soda also caught the attention of food critics and even registered dieticians, like Heather Martin, who sampled the soda for the Today Show.

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Recently, there’s been a strong desire for the Thanksgiving-themed drink, which was originally launched in 2003, but not seen on store shelves in over a decade. In 2021, Jones Soda announced that it would bring back their wacky flavor in honor of its 25th anniversary.

"We've taken enough of a breather from this flavor, and we think this is the right time to bring it back," Mark Murray, Jones Soda’s former CEO, said at the time. "There's a whole generation — an entire demographic of Gen Z and younger millennials — that's never tried it, but maybe just heard of it."

In the same vein as the Grimace Shake and Pink Sauce, Jones Soda’s Turkey and Gravy soda is essentially a shock-treat that piques people’s curiosity and appeals to their desire for the unexpected. The drink isn’t really hailed for its drinkability but rather, its absurdity. No one’s necessarily cracking open a cold bottle of Turkey and Gravy soda on a Friday night to unwind. At least that’s not how the soda is marketed to its consumers. The drink itself is a gag that people can say they've tried at least once.

That being said, not all Thanksgiving-themed snack foods are flat out bizarre. After all, Thanksgiving foods are comforting and tasty — and certain snacks, namely the Trader Joe’s collection of Thanksgiving chips and popcorn, certainly tap into those appealing qualities.

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There’s TJ’s Stuffing Seasoned Popcorn, which many say tastes like a mouthful of homemade stuffing. Perhaps the best description of the popcorn is from one Redditor, whose girlfriend likened the snack to “that Willy Wonka candy where it’s a multi-course meal in your mouth in one bite.” TJ’s also carries a Thanksgiving Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips made with thickly sliced, premium potatoes and coated in a blend of salt, celery, sage and thyme seasonings. Close your eyes and you might even taste a hint of gravy, the California-based retailer said.

It’s clear that Thanksgiving-themed snack foods aren’t losing their demand anytime soon. Whether they’re straight up strange or actually delectable, such snack foods possess a myriad of fans that are always coming back for more every season. In true Thanksgiving fashion, perhaps it’s time we all tried Turkey and Gravy soda alongside stuffing seasoned popcorn and stuffing seasoned kettle chips. Now that’s a snack platter worth enjoying in anticipation of Thanksgiving dinner.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Commentary Gravy Jones Soda Mashed Potatoes Pie Stuffing Thanksgiving Trader Joe's Turkey