Okay, so I grew up in Chicago and Phoenix and I’ve never been to a seed-spitting contest. I’ve never met a gap-toothed girl named Susie. And honestly, I don’t really think about watermelons very often.
But when I came across watermelon pudding in the grocery store, the first thing that came to mind was neither seed-spitting contests nor watermelons. It was pure, unadulterated disgust, coupled with the question, Why?
Yes, I bought it. Of course I bought it.
What stood out to me the most about this (besides the combination of the words “watermelon” and “pudding” in the title) was the color. Not quite pink, not quite orange, it was only very slightly reminiscent of a real watermelon. Maybe if a watermelon had jaundice, it would be that color. Can watermelons get jaundice?
Anyway. It’s probably worth mentioning that the pudding wasn’t the only one of its kind on the shelf — displayed next to it were also juicy pear and cotton candy varieties. (Bright green and Pepto Bismol pink, respectively. Who picks the colors for this stuff? Crayola?) Pear pudding didn’t seem that strange, and for awhile it was a toss-up between the watermelon and the cotton candy, but in the end, I chose watermelon mostly on account of its color. And also because I could not for the life of me fathom how watermelon pudding was supposed to taste.
I was about to find out.
The first thing I did when I took off the lid was sniff the pudding (of course). It smelled sweet — almost sickeningly so. It actually smelled a lot like Jolly Ranchers (only even sweeter) — which was a little strange considering that it’s made by Jelly Belly. But I’ve always thought watermelon jelly beans were a little boring anyway. Maybe sweet would be okay.
When I scooped it onto my spoon, it looked like Jabba the Hutt was clinging on for dear life. Not exactly appetizing. (But then again, can orangey-pink pudding be expected to look appetizing? Ever?)
I put the spoonful in my mouth and contemplated.
Not bad, actually.
At first, it tasted almost exactly like vanilla pudding. Don’t ask me why, but it did. Maybe my taste buds have gone a little crazy after all I’ve put them through.
The aftertaste, though, was most definitely watermelon. And by watermelon I don’t mean the seed-spittin’ kind, I mean the artificial, sugar-loaded flavor that’s in Jolly Ranchers — and I suppose also in jellybeans.
I liked the original flavor better.
In fact, I kept eating it in little spoonfuls, savoring the flavor and then taking another quick bite before the aftertaste had time to kick in.
The verdict? It’s a little too sweet (and fake-watermelon-y) for my taste, but for as strange as it seems at first glance, it’s really not bad. I’d pick butterscotch pudding over this brightly colored wonder, but if you’re a big watermelon Jolly Rancher fan, this is probably heaven in a cup.
And if you don’t like watermelon Jolly Ranchers and you’re ever forced to eat this for whatever reason, shovel it down in quick spoonfuls. It’s better that way.
Ingredients: Nonfat milk, water, sugar, modified corn starch, vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: soybean oil, canola oil, sunflower oil), contains 1% or less of the following: natural and artificial flavor, salt, xanthan gum, disodium phosphate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, Yellow 5 and Red 40.
Price: $0.99 at Fry’s Marketplace (4 per package)
Pros: Tasted like vanilla pudding at first. Colorful. Almost pretty…like a sunset…
Cons: The strong, sweet aftertaste wasn’t my favorite, and pudding that tastes like candy is still a little incongruous.