Today we'll be heading back to one of the Low Countries in Europe--Belgium. I've returned to North Carolina for work, and the local grocery contained a few surprises, a few exotics. I saw three kinds of Belgian fruit drinks for sale from Looza--mango, peach, and pear.
The origin of the Looza company is a farm in South Limberg owned by Lord de Laminne de Bex. The farm was the Comte de Looz, and he started the company in 1947. It was one of the first to apply pasteurization techniques to apple juice. The company's drinks grew in popularity, and by the 1960's Looza was exporting to other countries. Reportedly Looza is so big in Belgium that its name has become synonymous with fruit juice drinks there. In 1998 Looza was bought out by the American conglomerate PepsiCo. In 1999 the company began marketing a "smart," vitamin-enriched beverage called Looza ACE. Currently Looza makes 26 different flavors of juice drink, including orange, apple cherry, tomato, and passion fruit, in addition to the ones I already mentioned. The logo switched from a cannibalistic apple man in 1949 (he was shown drinking his own, or presumably other apple men's "blood") to the current brand where the two "o's" in Looza resemble fruit, with a leaf coming off of them.
My bottles were distributed by another of Pepsi's holding, the Tropicana brand. All three of the bottles were 1 liter (33.8 ounce) and made from glass. Also, all three had "from concentrate" printed on their label, which seemed unusual to me--usually drinks are proudly proclaiming that they are not. Each contained the respective fruit puree concentrate, water, and sugar. And for the peach and pear ones also ascorbic acid. Here are my impressions.
1) Looza fruit drink, pear flavor: This one was a cloudy, yellow hue, much like pear juice, clearly, which made up 42% of the total. It tasted exactly like I thought it would--like pear juice. Since I'm not a fan of pears, or their flavor, I wasn't very taken with it. It wasn't terribly undrinkable or anything, just bland and boring.
2) Looza fruit drink, peach flavor. This one was 38% juice, and was a cloudy yellowish-orange color. Once again, it closely resembled the fruit it's made from. Since I like peaches, I also liked this drink made from them. Much better than the pear kind.
3) Looza fruit drink, mango flavor. About the same cloudy yellowish-orange tint as the peach one, and also was made of 38% actual fruit juice. Decent, but a little thinner than I wanted. It was certainly tastier than the peach, but not as rich as the peach. However, yet again, it's like the fruit it's made from--mangoes are okay to me, but not one of my "go to" fruits.
Just to flesh this out a little, I'll close with a brief list of some of the more famous Belgians. Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin were excellent tennis players, and each was recently elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame. Some of Belgium's famous painters include James Ensor, Peter Paul Rubens, and Jan van Eyck. The creator of the Smurfs also came from here--Peyo (real name Pierre Culliford). Finally, there's famous cartographer/geographer/cosmographer Gerardus Mercator, of the famous projection maps. There's a bit of a controversy, though, as both Germany and Belgium claim him as one of theirs. I'll let these countries argue that out.
So, I thought two out of the three Loozas were pretty good. They were a bit pricey, though--about $5 per bottle. I am definitely intrigued by the Looza ACE variety. Aside from the vitamins, it contains sausage juice. I'm very curious about how this flavor works, or doesn't, when mixed up into a fruit juice drink.