Last month, news came that Random Lake-based soda pop purveyor Jolly Good had resumed production of the beverage that kept the whistles of cost-conscious consumers in Wisconsin and neighboring states wet between the early 1970s and 2007. After quietly re-introducing its five most popular flavors—Cherry, Orange, Grape, Old Fashion Cream Soda, and Sour Pow’r—in Sheboygan-area markets and gas stations, Jolly Good ramped up production significantly, with sights set on spreading its affordable sweetness throughout the state for the first time in almost a decade.

Now that Jolly Good has made its way back to Milwaukee Piggly Wiggly stores, Milwaukee Record‘s staff wanted to revisit the soda that played at least a small, sugary role in each of our upbringings and give the five-pack of revived flavors another try. With decades of combined experience and incalculable soft drink sophistication to our credit, we also decided to rank them. Here’s how it all played out.

5. Sour Pow’r
“When I was a kid, Sour Pow’r used to be my preferred pick from Jolly Good’s arsenal. Even with its unabashedly artificial Pine Sol-like scent, it’s still okay. Something has changed, though. Was it the soda or was it me? I suspect it’s a little of both.” — Tyler Maas, Co-founder and Editor

“This tastes like Squirt or Mello Yello. I always drank Mello Yello when I ate at Rocky Rococo as a kid. Oh, and I still drink Mello Yello when I eat at Rocky Rococo as an adult. Which is often.” — Matt Wild, Co-founder and Editor

“One of the last times I had this was years ago at a family picnic, where my associates and I used a water balloon launcher to soak my elderly relatives. That unfortunate event and this soda both seemed much more desirable when I was seven. It’s not really sour at all, which is really the whole point.” — Josh Hoppert, Director of Advertising

4. Cherry
“Some say Shirley Temple. Some say Kiddie Cocktail. Either way, it’s that. It seemed to stain better than all the others, too, in case that’s important to you.” — JH

“Whoa! This is like mainlining a maraschino. It’s not good, but it’s not the worst. It’s the second worst. Even so, I’d drink the shit out of this at my aunt’s wedding in 1992 if given the chance.” — TM

“I always hated cherry-flavored anything as a kid. Chalk it up to bad memories of Kiddie Cocktails and this weird adult gag gift my parents had called a ‘Virgin Replacement Kit’ or something. It was a fake cherry and a little plunger. It always creeped me out.” — MW

3. Orange
“Straight-up toilet-papering soda. Fun kid story: A friend and I were staying overnight at another friend’s house, and we decided it would be brilliant if we toilet-papered his house in the middle of the night. Like, the house we were staying over at. Who would suspect? No one, apparently, because it went off without a hitch. (Sorry, Brad.)” — MW

“By most accounts, this is a fairly average orange soda, but there’s something different about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. Organic mandarin extract? Essence of tangerine? Ah yes, Yellow 6 and Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin!” — TM

“As a guy who poured wine at a Willamette Valley winery for two years, I can say with authority that this really isn’t my favorite orange soda. Plenty of sugar, but lacking that crucial orange zing.” — JH

2. Old Fashion Cream Soda
“I’m forever on the fence with cream Jolly Good. For me, it’s the taste of staying over at someone’s house and discovering this is the only thing they have in the fridge. Good in a pinch, but not ideal for an all-night Sega bender.” — MW

“The taste and smell were exactly what I was expecting. Nostalgia is big, but I flat out like it, too. It’s sugary, butterscotch-y, and delicious…y.” — JH

“This is the more intense version of Dang! Butterscotch. (Damn! Butterscotch?) I rated this the lowest of the five-pack (and lower than Josh and Matt), and not even because of the “Old Fashion” misstep. It tied with Orange in our voting, but it’d mix better with booze, so I’ll look the other way. Innocent little grade school Tyler weeps for me.” — TM

1. Grape
“Like the last little bit of your grape freeze pop that isn’t frozen anymore. All the dark purple goodness without the plastic tube aftertaste.” — JH

“Holy shit! This is a lot better than I remembered it. This isn’t just Jolly Good. It’s Jolly Quite Above Average.” — TM

“Now we’re fucking talking. This is the Jolly Good I remember and love. Misspent childhoods, wood-paneled basements, drop ceilings, beanbags, video games, and pent-up sexual frustrations that found their outlets in ill-advised home movies with titles like Dracula’s Male Companion and Big Penis Man. Have I said too much? I’ve said too much. Welcome back, Jolly Good!” — MW

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