Regular readers might recall I did a previous post about Mexican soft drinks (see August 8, 2013 post) which discussed the Jarritos, Sidral Mundet, and Sangria Senorial brands. (This was also the one time I did a blind taste test to determine if I liked high fructose corn syrup better than cane sugar as a drink sweetener.) Well, the international aisle in the Food Lion grocery in Newport News, VA (of all places) yielded up another type--Chaparritas.
Chaparritas are part of the El Naranjo brand, manufactured by Grupo Mezgo, in Mexico. It's a medium-old soft drink, as it's been sold since 1947. Like many other Mexican drinks, it uses cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. These drinks are also non-carbonated, and contain Vitamin C and calcium. Each bottle contains 100 calories.
I was able to locate three flavors--tangerine, pineapple, and grape. The bottles themselves are very small, being only 8.45 ounces (or 250 milliliters). This is probably related to the drink's name. According to The Urban Dictionary, "chaparrita" is Mexican slang for a short female. In a friendly, family pet name sort of way, and not a nasty slur or anything.
I regret to say that I wasn't a big fan. Of the three, I liked the tangerine and the grape the best. None of them, though, were unpleasant. They were just bland. Each did have the advertised fruit flavor, but each was rather boring. When it comes to Mexican soft drinks these were distinctly inferior to most Jarritos flavors or Sangria Senorial.
Also, their alleged healthiness is overblown. It's true that they have some nutrients, but the amounts (5% of the daily requirements for Vitamin C, and 2% for calcium) are extremely low. Also, their apparently low calorie content is a little misleading, too. 100 calories for 8.45 ounces works out to about 142 calories for a 12 ounce serving. To compare, 12 ounces of Coke, Sprite, and 7Up are 140 calories, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper are 150, Barq's Root Beer is 160, and Sunkist Orange is 170. Furthermore, while they don't have high fructose corn syrup, which has a (deserved?) bad reputation, they do have artificial colors and flavors, and have no actual fruit juice. So, all in all, they're only marginally healthier than most soft drinks, and this is more than offset (to me, anyway) by their weak taste. I can't recommend Chaparritas.
There is one thing that Chaparritas are good for, though. Their tiny bottles are good approximations of the ones used by the Luther character (well played by David Patrick Kelly) in the fun cult gang movie, "The Warriors." There's a famous scene where he taunts The Warriors gang by clinking several tiny bottles (maybe 7 ounce "pony" beer bottles?) together in his hand while saying, "Warriors.....come out to play--ee--ay!" in an eerie voice. (One final bit of trivia--the movie, and its novel precursor, are loosely based on the ancient Greek story, "Anabasis" by Socrates' student Xenophon.)
Oh, and to those in the U.S., Happy Independence Day!