Eat Dirt, Drink Sweat

Jones Soda (Nasdaq: JSDA  ) , you sweat hog! The edgy soda-pop maker is coming out with a limited-edition pack of gridiron-themed flavors to coincide with its debut this month as the exclusive soft drink provider at Seattle Seahawks home games.

Running Back Root Beer? Hail Berry? Post Pattern Punch? You're dreaming if you think Jones Soda will settle for flavors like those. The company has never shied away from putting out some pretty funky flavors over the holidays, so don't be surprised to learn that two of the five new flavors target dirt and sweat.

The five flavors?

  • Dirt Soda
  • Sports Cream Soda
  • Perspiration Soda
  • Natural Field Turf Soda
  • Sweet Victory Soda

The five-pack won't come cheap at $19.99, but it's a small price to pay for something you can either use as a collectible or incorporate into your own Fear Factor game at home.

Anyone who isn't familiar with Jones Soda would wonder why the company would bottle flavors that seem repulsive. They have probably never seen the company's "green bean casserole" and "turkey gravy" soda flavors for Thanksgiving, or its "candy corn" cans sold through Target (NYSE: TGT  ) for Halloween.

Even if the flavors don't sell briskly, they are attention-grabbers. More to the point, Jones Soda does it because Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP  ) never would.

Qwest for fire
This move also draws attention to what Jones Soda is doing when it comes to fountain sales. Putting out the limited-edition football flavors and rolling out special Seahawks player-based packaging in the Seattle area would never have happened if the company hadn't secured exclusive pouring rights for NFL games played at Qwest Field in Seattle.

It's still too early to tell how things are going on that front. The Seahawks have won both home games so far, so we know the fans are happy with what they're seeing on the field, but are they happy with the soft drinks they're holding in the fourth quarter?

That's important. The fountain sales market is pretty much owned by Coke and Pepsi. If Jones is able to keep sales of flavor staples like cola and lemon-lime consistent, spiking up the top line with its premium, eclectic creations, why wouldn't other teams follow the lead?

Jones Soda is giving the Seahawks and Qwest Field more exposure now than the big boys did in the past. Other teams would love a little grassroots marketing, even if it entails artificial grass-root flavoring.

Why stop at sports? Amusement parks, fast-food chains, and concert venues often have to decide between Coke and Pepsi. If Jones Soda is able to hit on the basics -- which is exactly what it will take to succeed in Seattle's home field this season -- it could bring a little more to the table by injecting some personality into the concession stands.

Try the smoked salmon soda next time
Unfortunately, shareholders have also been left asking about what the company can bring to the table.

"I want to ask this respectfully," an analyst asked during last month's quarterly earnings conference call. "When are you going to make money?"

It's easy to see where he was coming from. There was a lot of market hype over the company expanding its canned distribution beyond Target earlier this year. Target was nice, but now National Beverage (Nasdaq: FIZZ  ) was going to start stocking Jones Soda in distinctive cans inside larger food retailers like Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) and most of the country's top grocery-store chains.

Jones is still early in the rollout, but the second-quarter results were a fresh splash of smoked salmon soda -- yes, an actual flavor -- in investors' faces. The stock is trading nearly two-thirds lower than its peak back in April.

Speculators who figured they were hopping onto the next Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS  ) woke up next to an entirely different monster. However, now that the hype has gone away, it's easy to warm up to the company's potential again. Canned soda growth will continue at an impressive pace, hopefully without cannibalizing the premium bottled product. That's the catalyst that soured investors have forgotten.

The other catalyst will be playing itself out over the next few weeks at Qwest Field. That's the one soured investors haven't bothered to remember. Jones Soda knows it has skeptics -- and even kind-hearted analysts -- to prove wrong.

At least it's bottling the right ingredients to get there. A little dirt and a little perspiration is one way to get to sweet victory.

Other ways to keep up with the Joneses:


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