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No great taste but it is less filling

Firm helps charity with strange sodas

SEATTLE -- Jones Soda Co. takes the idea of a liquid diet to a new low. How does Green Bean Casserole Soda strike you? And how about an aggressively buttery-smelling Mashed Potato Soda?

Even the creators of the fizzy concoctions at this small Seattle soda company can hardly stomach the stuff. But last year's unexpected success of the Turkey & Gravy Soda means another round of bizarre food-flavored soft drinks. An added bonus: They're calorie-free.

This week Jones Soda Co. launches a full meal deal of five Thanksgiving soda flavors, from the bile-colored Green Bean Casserole to the sweet -- but slightly sickly -- Fruitcake Soda. Last year's Turkey & Gravy is also back on the menu.

If you think it sounds less than appetizing, you're not alone.

"Oh, man, I can't drink that!" cries out company chief executive Peter van Stolk, after pouring himself a drink of mashed potatoes.

To banish the buttery aftertaste, he recommends a chaser of Cranberry Soda, the only one of the holiday bunch that doesn't make you want to pick up a toothbrush.

Drinking last year's savory Turkey & Gravy was no picnic, either, but that didn't stop people from clamoring for it, pushing bidding on auction site eBay Inc. up to $63 for a two-bottle set.

This year Jones plans to produce up to 15,000 five-packs of the 12-ounce bottles. The sodas may not be as satisfying as a real holiday meal, but they can boast being both calorie- and carb-free, not to mention vegan and kosher.

Beginning Thursday, they'll be on sale at some Target Corp. stores throughout the country, and at other retailers, for $14.95 to $16.95, with proceeds benefiting Toys for Tots.

Known for its quirky ads and offbeat bottle designs, Jones traces its roots to a soda distribution operation that began in 1987. But it wasn't until the mid-1990s that the company began its own line of sodas, cultivating a following among skaters, surfers, and snowboarders with unusual flavors like blue bubble gum, green apple, and watermelon.

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