What Is It: Pepsi’s new Bubly line of flavored sparkling waters
Who Tried It: Mark Marino, PEOPLE contributing writer
Level of Difficulty: 2 (mainly because I’m not really a fan of seltzer water)
Recently, PEOPLE’s food & lifestyle director asked if I wanted to sample and write about a new bubbly line. Cheers to that! Who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon sipping flutes of champagne by the likes of Veuve or Moet?
Turns out it was Pep-say. As in Pepsi’s new line of flavored sparkling water. First I have to admit: I’ve never liked seltzer and always found it flavorless. As far as I’m concerned, seltzer is only good for removing bloodstains or spraying someone after hitting them in the face with a pie (as one does in old movies and TV shows).
As the office seltzer skeptic, I accepted the challenge, figuring that maybe Pepsi’s new flavors — Limebubly, Grapefruitbubly, Strawberrybubly, Lemonbubly, Orangebubly, Applebubly, Mangobubly and Cherrybubly — would turn me into a fan.
The first thing I noticed is that the cans are colorful and fun, and each pull-tab has a different greeting, like “Yo,” “Hey u,” “Oh hi,” and in case you weren’t paying attention the first time, “Hiii.”
Wait a minute — are these cans flirting with me?
The cans are also marked by “U” shapes that resemble a smiling mouth — some with kissy lips, tongues and teeth — and messages including “I feel like I can be open around u” and “Hold cans with me.”
They are flirting with me, the little thirst traps!
OK, now it was time to test the waters (see what I did there?) and find out if the flavors sparkled or fell flat.
Limebubly:The flavor was pleasant and subtle and reminded me of the lime freeze pops I loved as a kid. I could see myself craving this drink on a hot summer day … and I can also see myself doing Google searches to find a place to buy lime freeze pops in the spring.
Cherrybubly: If I had a daughter, I would call her Cherrybubly. The name is so bright and cheery, just like this drink. I love cherries and this beverage hints at the flavor without making you feel like you’re drinking fizzy Robitussin. This may become my go-to summer drink—and not just because I’m too cheap to spend $5 for 2 pounds of actual cherries.
Grapefruitbubly: Uh-uh. No. I’m already bitter enough, I don’t need my drink to be as well. This literally left a sour taste in my mouth.
Strawberrybubly: Is that bubble gum? Hmm… no. Jolly Rancher? No, that’s not it. Frankenberry! Yes! This tastes like Frankenberry cereal. And I kind of liked it. Actually, I really liked it.
Lemonbubly: Celebrities and nutritionists are always touting the benefits of drinking water with lemon—so this is like the next best thing if you forget to hit the grocery store last night. Imagine if you tried to make an entire pitcher of lemonade with just one lemon. That’s what this tastes like. It has a subtle citrus flavor which is good for a first step into the flavored seltzer world, although I think it could also benefit from a bit more zing.
Orangebubly: This was really enjoyable, almost like a Creamsicle with notes of St. Joseph’s baby aspirin (a compliment, I swear!). I bet this would be really refreshing in the summer — and it might even get rid of heat headaches.
Applebubly: My family has a favorite baby photo of me wearing a powder blue onesie and holding a pink vinyl squeaky-toy-type bunny, with one of its ears in my mouth. I bet this is what that ear tasted like. Despite the green apple smell, the flavor isn’t very fruity.
Mangobubly: I had a love-hate relationship with this one. Each sip initially had a strange aftertaste that then mellowed into something resembling a yummy mango frozen fruit bar. Still, I just don’t think mango works as a carbonated beverage flavor and only works best in smoothies.
Michaelbubly: This isn’t an actual flavor, but if it were, I bet it could make you sing like Sinatra after just one sip!
The Verdict: If you like flavored seltzer, chances are you’ll find a few options you’ll like in the mix. And, yes, there were a few fruit flavors that I enjoyed and would drink again. But despite the brazen Bubly’s attempts to seduce me to the sparkling side, I remain committed to my long-term relationship with cola.