A Love Letter To Jarritos, My Favorite Fruity Soft Drink
A brief history lesson and taste test all in one.
For those of you unfamiliar with Jarritos, allow me to enlighten you. It's a popular brand of soft drink from Mexico easily found in grocery stores throughout the United States, beloved for its vibrant flavors and gentle carbonation. The sodas are most commonly sold in 12.5-ounce glass bottles and available in an array of flavors from tutifruti to limón — and sweetened with real sugar.
To say that Jarritos are one of my favorite beverages would be an understatement — so I gathered a group of friends to taste every flavor I could get my hands on. But before we dive into the flavors, a brief history lesson on the brand:
Jarritos was originally founded in Mexico in 1950 by Don Francisco "El Güero" Hill and began exporting sodas to the United States in 1989. According to Beverage Marketing, the sodas are "sold in almost half of Unites States grocery stores that have annual sales of over $2 million" — so it's safe to say that Jarritos is a pretty big deal in Mexico and the United States alike.
Every bottle is adorned with an image of three clay pots, aka jarritos, or "little jugs." While the company first grew to fame for its groundbreaking tamarindo flavor (which was the first-ever carbonated tamarind soft drink commercially available in Mexico — and now Jarritos' second-best-selling flavor), they quickly expanded their flavor offerings and grew to become the first national soft drink brand of Mexico. The company is currently owned by Novamex, a top Hispanic product exporter in the United States located in El Paso, Texas.
"It was actually really surprising when I learned that not everyone grew up with Jarritos."
For many Mexican-Americans (and non Mexican-Americans alike), Jarritos are a beloved staple grocery store item. "It was actually really surprising when I learned that not everyone grew up with Jarritos," says Elena Garcia, a senior writer at BuzzFeed. "My whole life we had the glass bottles, and then they started making 1.5-liter versions. We always had the tamarindo flavor. It was available in both the Mexican grocery stores we shopped at as well as our local Safeway."
Although there are currently 15 flavors of Jarritos, some flavors (such as manzana, or apple) are not as easy to come by in the States. We were lucky enough to get our hands on 13 of them and tried them in a side-by-side taste test. We assembled a group of five taste-testers — some familiar with the brand, and some not — to try them:
• Angela Krasnick: “Living in Houston, Texas, everywhere I went had Jarritos. I’m very familiar with the soda and already have a few favorites, but I'm curious to see how they stack up against the full roster!”
• Adrian Rosales: "While I've been familiar with many Latinx sodas for the majority of my life, it wasn't until high school that I discovered Jarritos. Then, it was a tradition to leave the beach with a burrito and Jarritos in hand. The grapefruit flavor has always been my favorite, but I'm excited to try the other flavors!"
• Emily DePaula: "I've always seen Jarritos offered at my favorite Mexican restaurants, but I always go for the horchata. That said, I had no idea just how many flavors there were before today! I'm pretty stoked to give them all a try."
• Vicki Chen: "I never heard of Jarritos until I moved to New York City and saw them in grocery stores, but I still haven't tried them. I'm not usually a fan of colorful fruity sodas, but I'm ready to give them a try!"
Here are the flavors we tried and what we thought of each —in no particular order:
Tasting Highlights: "It has a nice scent to it, but the initial taste reminds me far too much of a bad medicine I had when I was a kid." —Adrian Rosales
"The color of this bottle is so red — I love it. The flavor is not my style, but it's super refreshing when it's ice cold." —Angela Krasnick
Tasting Highlights: "It's interesting, because it smells like a tropical candle from Bath & Body Works. It tastes complex, like more than one flavor — a tropical mix — not just mango." —Emily DePaula
"I'm not a big mango fan so the flavor feels really strong, but it's pretty good." —Angela Krasnick
"I'm into this. It's super fruity and fragrant. I love pretty much anything that's mango-flavored, so this isn't surprising." —Jesse Szewczyk
Mandarina (Mandarin Orange)
Tasting Highlights: "It tastes like a slightly less sweet version of the orange sodas I'm used to. I wouldn't be able to tell you it's Mandarin specifically, versus just a standard orange soda, but I like it." —Jesse Szewczyk
"Taste and smell is just like a Mandarin fruit cup. It's nostalgic." —Emily DePaula
"Better than Fanta." —Vicki Chen
Tasting Highlights: "I like that it's a bit tart. It balances the sweetness nicely and makes it super refreshing. I could see this working really well in cocktails." —Jesse Szewczyk
"By the looks of this drink you might be a little skeptical of how it may taste, but surprise surprise, it's really good! The flavor is subtle, which I really like." —Angela Krasnick
"This is one of the most subtle flavors of the bunch, but it's really refreshing." —Emily DePaula
Tasting Highlights: "This was decently refreshing, but a bit too sweet for me. I had to drink water almost immediately afterward. But then again, I did go in for a second sip..." —Adrian Rosales
"I love strawberry. I recommend drinking this over ice, super cold, so it's not too syrupy. It reminds me of strawberry Fanta — which I love. I like it a lot." —Emily DePaula
"I like it. It's fruity and bright." —Vicki Chen
Tasting Highlights: "It's not too pineapple-y like that piña colada shit I'm used to. It's good." —Vicki Chen
"I really like this. If you enjoy actual pineapple fruit, you will enjoy this. It's pretty true to the real flavor." —Emily DePaula
"I feel like if someone has ever seen or tasted Jarritos, it's been this flavor. It's definitely a classic flavor profile. Delicious and easy to drink!" —Angela Krasnick
Agua Mineral (Club Soda)
Tasting Highlights: "It's a good standard seltzer. Refreshing. Light. I can tell it has a bit of salt in it, which is nice. It would be great for cocktails." —Emily DePaula
"This is simple and refreshing. I don't have much else to say! It's a good seltzer!" —Jesse Szewczyk
"Nothing more. Nothing less. Perfect amount of fizz." —Angela Krasnick
Tutifruti (Fruit Punch)
Tasting Highlights: "This is delicious. Anything that is fruit punch–flavored is automatically good. It's fruity. It's flirty. It's sweet. It's not too serious. I want to drink this entire bottle." —Jesse Szewczyk
"Tutifruti is — in my opinion — the definitive classic flavor of Jarritos. You can literally never go wrong with this choice." —Adrian Rosales
Tasting Highlights: "This sounds so basic, but it would be great with a grilled cheese — kind of like guava paste. Really good." —Emily DePaula
"It tastes a bit like strawberry, but more exciting. Super fragrant." —Jesse Szewczyk
"OK, I'll admit that I thought I might not like this flavor, but it's a contender for one of my favorites! It looks cute, it tastes a bit floral, and it's perfectly sweet!" —Angela Krasnick
Tasting Highlights: "It tastes like what an actual grapefruit tastes like. I like it a lot. Refreshing." —Vicki Chen
"I'm into this. It's bright, a bit floral, and super crisp. Love." —Jesse Szewczyk
"I don’t get any of the strong grapefruit notes really. It’s more just a general citrus flavor — like Fresca — but I really, really like it." —Emily DePaula
Jarritos are available in most major grocery stores in the Unites States. They can be found in most Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and Dollar Tree locations. Check out their online store locator for your closest store, or head over to Amazon to easily order them online.
And if you're interested in learning more about Hispanic Heritage Month (which is celebrated from September 15–October 15 every year), check out all of our content celebrating the vast and colorful contributors from the community. Or go to the official National Hispanic Heritage Month website to learn more. •