Kroger Raspberry Lemonade Drink Mix Sticks (Kroger)

The box packaging for Kroger Raspberry Lemonade Drink Mix Sticks
A cloying combination of disgustingly sweet and raspberry.

We took a look at Kroger's peach tea drink mix sticks, and I was pleasantly surprised by how accurate the flavor was to actual peach tea—at least, as far as powdered mixes can go. With that win in mind, we look at their raspberry lemonade offering...which, unfortunately, is exactly what I was expecting.

This one falls into the standard trap of trying to deliver too much of everything: the raspberry taste is more akin to a candy than the actual fruit, while the lemonade appears in the form of a non-descript tartness that is more authentic in aftertaste than initial taste. Even the smell is overwhelmingly candy-like and, quite frankly, not all that inviting. Halving the recommended serving size (i.e. using half a stick instead of a whole one) doesn't really improve on the flavor much: although it does cut back on its sugary flavor profile, it delivers a strong lemon tartness with a really watered-down-but-still-phoney raspberry taste that serves as proof it really should have just been left out entirely. It's like someone went to make raspberry Kool-Aid, forgot that they didn't have any sugar in the house, but went ahead and used it anyway.

I would say this is a disappointment—and I guess it technically is—but it's just an inherent problem with a lot of drink mix sticks, which seem to want to cram as much sweetness and flavor into one sugarless stick as possible. I'm not sure why this seems to be a consistent problem across the board, but it is, and this is just another example of that. So I guess rather than being a huge letdown, it's more an example of a disappointing status quo.

I have to give it some props, because at $1.29 (for the standard 10-stick pack), there is some value to be had here. And, as uninspiring as it is, I would still take something like this all day over the droll flavor of regular water. However, considering I would rather drink almost anything over regular water, that compliment really isn't much of a compliment. This definitely won't be a flavor I'd be too interested to revisit ever again, unless it happens to be the only option. But considering the bountiful variety of flavors on offer at Kroger, it's a situation that I thankfully will likely never find myself in.

Overall: 4.5/10. After trying Kroger's surprisingly good peach tea mix, I had slightly higher expectations that this one would deliver a similar shock; unfortuntely, this is merely an example of a typical drink powder, wanting to cram as much sweetness and flavor as possible into a sugar free powder tube. And while it certainly succeeds in that, it's not a real appetizing or convincing combination, featuring the tanginess of lemonade, with a weak, watered-down raspberry flavor that, even at full strength, would be more akin to a candy than the actual fruit. On the upsides, at $1.29 per 10-stick pack, there's some value to be had, and it still beats the flavor of regular water. Still, not a flavor I'd be too eager to revisit at any point in the near future.