For those who don't know, "Mexican Coke" is much different than the Coke available here in the U.S. The biggest difference is, instead of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used a sweetener, Mexican Coke (and most other sodas in the world, for that matter) use real, honest-to-goodness sugar. HFCSs have been used commonly since about the late '70s-early '80s as an ingredient in pretty much every processed product known to man (In lunch meat? Really?) mostly because as a result of imported sugar taxes and farm subsidies, it's much cheaper to use in American food production. There's been all sorts of allegations that the prevalent use of HFCSs has been THE leading contribution in the spikes in obesity and heart disease rates in the past couple decades. There's arguments for and against that notion, and it could go on and on and on, and probably will ad infinitum.
My take? I just want to have a cold, tasty drink. Trader Joe's Vintage Root Beer makes a pretty excellent choice for that. Like other soft drinks marketing themselves under a "retro" or "old school" label these days, TJ's root beer is HCFS-free, just using sweet tasty cane sugar as nature intended. I find sodas made with real sugar tend to be lighter, fresher, and crisper tasting, and the root beer doesn't do anything to change that notion. It's smooth, too, because it's not nearly as fizzy as other soft drinks. To say that it tastes "flat" would be incorrect, I think, because that implies it lacks the carbonation it should have. TJ's Vintage Root Beer tastes more like what you could expect from a homebrew kit or festival stand (like the fresh birch beer I had on the 4th at a Pennsylvania Dutch festival) than a bottle of Barq's or can of A&W. It's light, refreshing and highly drinkable with real root beer flavors like vanilla and anise shining through, and even better served over ice. I'm not as sure it'd be a great choice for floats, though that could be more my own preference because I like the combination of fizz and ice cream. All in all, by itself, it's an excellent drink.
Sandy's not much of a soda drinker aside from the very occasional Dr. Pepper, but she said she really likes it, enough to give it a 5 for all the reasons above. I'm fairly certain she tried to sneak the last bottle while I was showering upstairs, and only very reluctantly shared it with me when I caught her in the act.* Me? Tough to say exactly. It's hard to impress me sometimes on some treats I grew up with in Eastern PA that those of the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage tend to make better than just about everyone else (if TJ's ever tries to make a shoo-fly pie or funny cake, God help them), which I consider root beer being among them. To me, it's not as good as home brewed at a festival, but better than most other types that are commercially available except for A-Treat brand. Now that's some great stuff...also, at $3.99 for a four pack, the TJ's strikes me as being a little pricey. If Coke can get a fridge full of bottles to some dusty Mexican village literally in the middle of nowhere and turn enough coin to sell them at barely over a quarter each, I'd think you could get a similar high quality bottle of soda for less than a greenback each in a major U.S. metropolitan area. Maybe that's just me. Eh. Enough quibbling for me, because for what it was, I definitely enjoyed it and I'm going with a four. All this writing about it definitely just got me thirsty for another one...
Bottom line: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons
* Yes, dear, this is a slight exaggeration. But only slight. By the way, notice how I wrote an entire review about soda and never once called it what you and all you silly Pittsburgh-born-and-raised folks call it?