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Wink™ Lives! But R.I.P. Ruby Grapefruit.

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(For those not familiar with Wink™, it’s a Grapefruit/Orange flavoured soft drink (pop)).

It’s been a dry and thirsty summer! Even though it didn’t improve my lifestyle or my sex life (as promised by other beverages) Wink™ succeeded admirably in slaking my thirst. So what if there weren’t billboards of Wink™ showers reviving nubile bathers. At least I found it exciting and visitors often selected it from our household selection.

Then one day it wasn’t there in my local supermarket! So on to the next store. And the next. A few still stocked the 2 litre plastic bottles – but they tended to lose their fizz before being totally consumed. It was déjà vu all over again. A few years back, Wink™ had similarly disappeared for a few months, but had returned with a makeover. It was now C-Plus Wink™, but promised that “same Wink taste”. I pride myself on judging people and things by their deep down qualities, not their appearance, so I welcomed Wink™ back without overt questions although, deep down, I wondered why Wink™ had gone off for 3 months for a makeover, when I hadn’t perceived anything wrong before. Maybe Wink™ had lost its way and needed time for reflection.

And now it had gone again! This time I couldn’t just sit idly by. Maybe it wouldn’t return this time. And I had the power of the Internet and Google to help me. Just do a search and presto! – the answers would come. But Google didn’t seem to understand. It wanted me to research programming languages like C+ and C++. My language turned bluer. And Wink led me to all sorts of ‘smileys’ that just mocked me. The only useful information was that C-Plus Wink™ was approved as Kosher. And for some reason C-Plus Grape wasn’t Kosher! The mystery deepened.

Aha! But all foodstuffs must have the producer on the package right? Except, my supply was exhausted and the containers recycled. What to do now? Simple, post on Chowhound, where I could recruit thousands of assistants to investigate stores to find any remaining stock. So I attempted to recruit these Chowhound Investigative Assistants (CIA) to help in tracking down the vanishing Wink™. Indeed this did lead to isolated sightings and the purchase of a few samples. It also led to the discovery of C-Plus Ruby Grapefruit (in cans) – a product long rumoured, but never actually seen (it’s also Kosher). And on both cans and bottle were the producers – Cadbury Beverages Inc. Now things were moving. Back to Google – but all attempts to contact Cadbury Beverages led through the corporate maze to the brains behind this: Cadbury Schweppes plc. Smooth sailing now, presumably. Their web site had a choice of Country or Product. I knew my country, Canada, and scanned the drop-down product list. No trace of C-Plus or Wink™. But among the hundreds of products were 7-Up, A&W, Canada Dry, Clamato, Crush, Dr Pepper, Hawaiian Punch, Motts, Orangina, RC Cola, Roses, Schweppes, ReaLemon, Sunkist, Vernors and Welch’s. This was a daunting list. How could all these be listed and not Wink™? Or C-Plus? An uneasy feeling crept over me. Who was hiding the source of Wink™? I decided to press on in search of Wink™ Manufacturing Depots (WMD’s). I managed to find a Canadian phone number within the Customer Service listings for Cadbury Schweppes plc and called them direct. I’m sure nobody else has had this problem, but the only responses were automated – leading through a maze designed to deter anybody less resolute than I was. And there was the exit. For Consumer Enquiries or Complaints call 1-800-etc. Holding my breath I dialled. Dr. Pepper 7-Up USA came the automated voice. All of our Operators are busy….. so, releasing my breath, I waited. Eventually my time came and I, very politely, explained about my search for WMD’s. I’m put on hold but eventually someone returns. “This is the USA” I’m informed, “We don’t have WMD’s here, they’re available in Canada”. I ask for a contact number and another 1-800 number is provided.
This time the phone is answered much more quickly, so I assume I’m back in Canada. This is Pepsi-Cola Canada I’m told. I explain my search once again. “Yes, we bottle Wink™ on contract for Cadbury’s, but we just pass it over to them and we have no knowledge of when or where it’s distributed”. Subsequently they give me a contact number – the same 1-800 # I had before for Dr. Pepper. So it’s back to the mysterious Dr Pepper again. Another long hold before I get a representative who tells me that Wink™ isn’t produced in Ontario. But I still have the can and bottle, and by then have researched the product codes and confirmed that they are indeed owned by Cadbury Beverages Inc. I ask for a telephone number that will get me a person at the Beverages subsidiary. “We don’t give out phone numbers” I am informed. So I ask for a supervisor. “Just a minute”. After about 5 minutes listening to advertising the rep returns. “Apparently, Wink™ is still produced in New Brunswick”. A glimmer of hope. “But where can I buy it?” I ask, “Surely somebody in the organization has to know!” Eventually we agree on a procedure. She will investigate and call me back by the next day. I note her name, just in case – I’m getting more suspicious now.

This gives me time to ponder a few other strange things. Since I’ve started this quest for WMD’s I’ve noticed strange clickings on the telephone line. There have been several attempts to break through my computer firewall. An astonishing number of ‘consumer surveys’ have called my phone doing surveys wanting to know details of my financial affairs. And on a cross-border trip to the U.S. I’m pulled out of the line to check-in and have my hand-baggage taken from me and searched in another room. I’m kept away from most other passengers (except others pulled over) and eventually asked to identify my hand luggage. After I do so, I am escorted directly to the plane – but my checked luggage doesn’t arrive for 48 hours. When it does, there’s no insert indicating it’s been searched – yet the zipper is closed in a different position than I’d left it!!!!!!

I never get a call back! Eventually I call Dr Pepper again and when I outline, politely, the issue, I’m asked where I’m calling from. “Are you Estufarian(name disguised; they use my real name)” I’m asked immediately. OK, I think, maybe I can expect more border hassles. “I’ll get a Supervisor”. But no supervisors are available, yet I’m told that Wink™ is bottled by Coca Cola in Weston, Ontario. And I’m even given a phone number for the Depot. Maybe finally I’ve located the WMD! Even though the company who produces Wink™ also owns 7-Up; Pepsi Cola have admitted to bottling it; and now I’ve located the Coca Cola plant that actually produces it. Between these three companies there must be a world-wide information network that’s the equal of any government – and still I can’t be sure I’ve found a WMD!

So I call. And they answer “Coca Cola” – and the receptionist transfers me ……but the phone loops back to the reception desk again. Finally I’m transferred to “someone who can help me” – it’s someone in Marketing who is “away from my desk. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call”. I’m still waiting.

So nobody can find any WMD’s. But the CIA have reported that they’ve seen C-Plus “Wink Twist” in both formats so it must exist mustn’t it?

Addendum: Just prior to typing this I did manage to break through the Canadian Head Office phone system maze and found someone who could confirm that the product has been both reformulated and repackaged. The C-Plus brand is now larger in type and the previous Wink™ brand has been dropped and replaced with a ‘Flavour’ now called “Wink Twist”. And it’s coming soon to a store near you. But sadly, the Ruby Grapefruit flavour has been discontinued as part of the same rethinking.

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  1. You've gone MAD!!!! haha :)

    Now, what about Diet Wink? or Caffeine-free Wink or if it's already Caffeine-free than "Wink, now with Caffeine"?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Goober

      Gee, then my trip to Toronto in April 2004 was timely. I bought 2 cases of Wink to bring back to the States.
      I found the Ruby Red Wink only once 3 years back, not bad.

      C'est la Wink!


    2. You beautiful bastard. I think I speak for all Winkophiles when I say thank you and god bless you, for your tireless investigative efforts.

      I also ask if you have tried "Wink Twist" yet, as the new formulation appears sweeter than Wink B.C. (Before C-Plus).

      As a side note, I found out that beverage can manufacturers can change the printed graphics on a can with a week or so, so that shoots down my original theory of new packaging delay.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Lazar

        Products often disappear for a short time before they are reintroduced. The theory is that the product seems more fresh to casual consumers, and the changes less pronounced to avid fans if they've been away from it for awhile. They wouldn't need a break for a packaging change, but as other's have noted, there's been a formula change, as well.

        Personally, I always preferred Fresca to Wink, anyway. More tongue numbing tartness, less calories, same price.

        1. re: Jacquilynne

          But doesn't Fresca contain Aspartame? I recoil at microscopic amounts of Aspartame. To me it's probably the most bitter compound I've ever found (but I know others don't react the same way). Perhaps I'm allergic.

          1. re: estufarian

            Fresca is *pure* aspartame!

            I don't particularly mind the taste though...in fact, I prefer Diet Coke to regular Coke (except when mixing with alcohol).

            However, in my travels across the sea, I have discovered Coke Light; it's 100x better than the Diet Coke in N.A. Coke Light has a much smoother taste and virtually no elements of aspartame; I assume its just another type of sweetner or concentration. Coke Light seems to fall in between Diet Coke and Regular (N.A.) Coke in terms of sweetness.

            Additionally, I've found that the European formulations for Fanta are much better than the ones at home; the Fanta at home reminds me of [insert flavour] syrup.

            1. re: QC

              I noticed that Coke Light didn't contain Aspartame. I recall it was another sweetener (I'm not positive but I think it is known by the brand name Splenda). But I seem to remember it was banned in USA because rats who consumed a truckload developed liver and kidney problems.
              Not that I'm in the slightest bit paranoid, but I think Aspartame is a US product and Splenda European!
              And the website below indicates that aspartame is more toxic than Splenda.

              Link: http://www.holisticmed.com/splenda/

              1. re: estufarian

                Fresca in Mexico is sweetened with sugar and reminds me of the Crush Grapefruit soda that I loved as a kid.

                1. re: estufarian

                  I actually just returned from France, where I drank Coca Light. Upon returning to Canada, I noticed that Diet Coke tasted bland and I stopped drinking it. I don't remember reading the label, but I was pretty sure it had aspartame. They also have Coke Zero (tastes the same as it does here).

        2. Let me know when you start seeing the black helicopters following at a discrete distance. I'm not happy about the reformulation aspect, I'm sure they'll make it sweeter which completely defeats the purpose. There are two kinds of pop, adult pop that can be mixed with alcohol and kids pop that should be avoided, the ‘c-plus’ ing of my beverages makes me worry that more of my adult pop is being taken away.

          Ruby Grapefruit was great with vodka. R.I.P.

          1 Reply
          1. re: alsiem

            With the Ruby Grapefruit R.I.P., guess it means I'll definitely be stocking up on the Ruby Red Squirt on the next trip to the States (good stuff!)

          2. Dude, didn't I already tell you this yesterday?


            It IS in stores, and I've purchased it and tasted it. It doesn't taste quite the same. It's fruitier.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pixelchef

              I did record that "the CIA have reported that they've seen C-Plus "Wink Twist" in both formats" - that would include you. I was trying to protect your identity in case you cross the border anytime soon. The airline and luggage part of the story is true.

              1. re: estufarian

                Haha. :) Understood. And you're right. I'm an internationally sought-after individual. They want my extremely small brain for science. Bastards.

            2. Nothing better with a Bacchus Roti than a Ting™... it was a sad, sad day a couple of years ago when I was told (by the owner of bacchus, who's cousin is married to the sister of the bottler in Jamaica (or some such vague connection)) that they had shut down their export operations. It seems that the owner had gotten himself into financial problems vis a vis troubles with an ex-wife, and he had to sell out to Pepsi, who, so the story goes, killed the product. The only reference I could find is on the link below.

              Has anybody seen it around town?

              Why do I bring this up in the midst of a threat about Wink™? Well, it, Ting™ and Orangina™ are, IMO, the most potable of the pops... not too sweet, quenching, perfectly satisfying when a soda is (rarely) desired.

              Link: http://www.sodaking.com/product_info....

              8 Replies
              1. re: Alan

                You're right - I haven't seen this recently either. Used to get it at several Roti places. My substitute has been one of the ginger drinks. Not the same, but still available.
                I'll be searching for the Wink Twist to compare with my last can of pre-reformulation Wink so will check my local stores. But I don't recall seeing it lately.

                1. re: estufarian

                  Ting is still around. Had one last night with a plate of jerk chicken at my neighborhood joint. It's usually available at Kensington Patty in the market.
                  I agree that a Wink addiction leads to harder things, like Orangina.

                  1. re: Ian

                    I bought Ting at the Price Chopper at Leslie &
                    Lakeshore yesterday, and they had cases of it. It was 79 cents a bottle. I keep saying, we have everything here in Leslieville!!

                2. re: Alan

                  Ting is available at my local No-Frills. Parliament and Carlton.

                  You can probably get it at others. They come in single-serve bottles. They're a little hard to find. Look in the 'we don't know where these should go' section. At my local, that's beside the fish freezer.

                  Leave some for me. It's lovely with Rum. And, I'm sure, gin....

                  Anyone heard of 'Pip'? I seem to remember drinking that during a few extended childhood visits to Jamaica.

                  1. re: Alan

                    Found Ting at Fiesta Farms (Christie between Bloor & Dupont) for $1.09 bottle. Also at the IGA on Dupont west of Christie, where it was $1.59 - same price as the 2 litre CPlus Wink Twist.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Have you tried the "new" Wink Twist, yet? I'm curious as to how you think it compares.

                      1. re: Alex

                        I'm planning a 'blind' taste test over the weekend. Because I've picked up several "substitutes" (5 Alive, President's Choice Grapefruit, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Vitale, possibly add Ting) I thought I'd try and invite some serious wine friends over and do a "formal tasting" including both old and new 'vintages' of Wink.
                        I'm down to my last can of the old - just have to decide whether to share it!

                        1. re: estufarian

                          This sounds absolutely wonderful! What fun! Great idea. I look forward to reading the results.


                  2. It is with no trace of hyperbole that I say that you, Estufarian, are a far more enjoyable writer than Keats and Milton combined times a million.

                    It's posts like these that give it all meaning: one man's (woman's?... nay surely a man) incredibly useless but awesome obsession.

                    More of this please.

                    1. m
                      Mississauga Matt

                      WMDs ... too funny!

                      I bought a couple of 2L bottles of Wink at Longos last week without even thinking about it (although I do admit I haven't seen the cans for some time).

                      1. Thank you so much for your first sentence. Us flatlanders way down south of you have been having some sleepless nights, trying to deduce what the devil "Wink" is.

                        You have demonstrated that a true, blue Chowhound is a bulldog who won't release his quarry from his powerful jaws. ;-)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chino Wayne

                          Hi, Chino Wayne,
                          Be very, very careful. It was a flight from LA where I was searched.
                          If Woo! finds any, make sure he hides it in a safe place where it's unlikely to be discovered.

                        2. You can buy it online at the link below. I would call them and check to see if they are legit and have some in stock first.

                          If you search with "Wink Beverage" or "Canada Dry Wink", or "Wink soda" you'll get better results.

                          I would recommend that you talk to your grocer that used to have it, find out what distributor carried it, and call the distributor.

                          Link: http://www.popsoda.com/wink.html

                          1. m
                            Mississauga Matt

                            Just bought a 2L bottle of the new Wink Twist. Seems to be slightly different than the previous incarnation, with a more pronounced grapefruit flavour. Pretty dry too (i.e. not sweet).

                            1. a
                              another lost soul

                              Thank you so much for telling me of your wink searching woes. I fell in love with Wink (hated all softdrinks before) when living in ontario. Then when i moved out to BC I had friends ship me Wink whenever they were able. And then i went out there last month and much to my horror all i found was Wink Twist and in the 2 litre bottle no less. I want my wink cans back. That yummy goodness that tingles on its way down your throat. and no caffeine, so good.

                              but i guess your sad story tells me that i am out of luck. how many of us are there who suffer from the same withdrawl pains? maybe we can force them to start making wink once more.

                              1. Thanks for the research. I feel your pain. Gin and Wink has been my beverage of choice for almost 10 years and now I can't get it. The new Wink Twist doesn't taste nearly as good. I was releived to see it on the shelf but when I got it home I was very disapointed to find out, it wasn't the same, great tasting Wink I had grown to love. My house guests are dissappointed too - they could always count on me having a few cans of Wink in the fridge to quench their thirst or mix with a gin. Sad, sad day.

                                I only hope Cadbury or who ever was behind this decision realizes the error of their ways and brings up back the Orginal Wink soon.

                                1. We were crushed when we visited our local supermarket to pick up our usual Wink for holiday "Gin & Wink" libations! We were fooled into buying TWO cases of the new Wink Twist; brought it home, poured it into a glass .... CHOKED on the insipid watery beverage that has replaced our beloved Wink! We went on the web and did the research (laughed/cried when reading your epistle, as we followed the same torturous route.....) and were informed by Customer Service that Wink is no longer bottled ... except in New Brunswick, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.. How do we get this great adult-flavour pop back into our lives here in the GTA?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: D&M

                                    I know - I've tried it too. It even seems to have been reformulated since my original taste tests. Sweeter and less concentrated flavour. Let's raise a glass of the 'Wink Twist' to the marketing geniuses that had the cans off the market for over 6 months.
                                    I've switched to the Vitale Sparkling Pompelmo - harder to find, but worth the effort.

                                  2. j
                                    Jordan Grant

                                    What a sense of deja vu reading your post! I too, have enjoyed Wink for years. It's the one major brand soft drink that's not too sweet and is really refreshing and thirst quenching. Other than Wink I avoid soft drinks and stick to water, milk or juice. I too, was disheartened when Wink disappeared from the shelves last winter and I too, went through the same detective story trying to track down the local bottler. Your tale described almost exactly my experience. After going through the multi-corporate international telephone maze you described, I finally ended up with a very nice woman with the CocaCola organization in Toronto who told me the product was being re-branded as "C-Plus Wink Twist" and would be back on the store shelves soon in 2 litre bottles and 12-can packs. Sure enough, it did re-appear in the fall. But she said something vague but troubling, that its somehow deemed a "winter product". I didn't give it any more thought until we ran out of Wink last month and when I went to my local Sobeys, they were out of cans. Now a month or two later, I have been searching high and low for cases of Wink and not only can't find it at my two favourite supermarkets, Sobeys and Loblaws, they've just taken the cards off the shelves that marked the spot where Wink used to be. Gads, they've done it again, just as thirsty season has begun! I've put calls into Coke again, and will let you know what I hear.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Jordan Grant

                                      I've just started to look for Wink again as my replacement Sparkling Pompelmo from Vitale has also disappeared. And I can't find it!
                                      Have recently tried the President's Choice (Loblaw Group) Sparkling Grapefruit (surprisingly good grapefruit flavour, but definitely too sweet and lacks the 'tang' of real grapefruit) and Compliments (A&P Dominion Group) Pink Grapefruit (better structure, less sweet and more acid, but doesn't really taste of grapefruit).
                                      Now down to my last 9 cans of Vitale!!!!!!

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        Just heard back from a Coke representative. It seems they are only selling CPlus Wink Twist in cans during the four-month period from November through February. They think their primary market is as a mixer with the primary demand being the Xmas holiday season. Crazy to me, now during the hot months is when I'd really like to have Wink cans.
                                        It's supposed to be available in 2 litre bottles now, at some Loblaws and Dominion stores, as well as the IGA in the beaches. Apparently Sobey's has dropped the product although they haven't informed the grocery manager at my local Sobeys. He said he had fond memories of Wink himself - lamenting the reduction in grapefruit pulp in recent years. They still have an empty shelf spot for Wink cans and bottles, and he was going to check to see why it was still empty. In the meantime, he sold me a bottle of "Ting" imported from Jamaica, saying it is the closest thing to the old Wink available now. I'll let you know how it tastes once I've downed it.
                                        I think Coke is missing out on a major market by not stocking or promoting Wink. The fact that the new version has less sugar and still has some real fruit juice in it, to me are major selling features. While it should be promoted as the adult soft drink, the fact of the matter is, when I had cans in our fridge they seemed to disappear quickly (too quickly as far as I'm concerned) whenever my teenaged daughter had friends over.

                                        1. re: Jordan Grant

                                          OK Now I know what AmuseGirl can buy me for Valentine's day - an 8 month suply of Wink!
                                          For mixes, Ting is fantastic - love the ginger-like kick. But it's not as refreshing as Wink. Reminder to self to see if the Tingtini is still available at Universal Grill!
                                          Have been checking out the competition, and President's Choice Sparkling Grapefruit is growing on me. Found the first can too sweet, but the flavour is excellent and the sweetness is cut if it's really cold.

                                    2. Just read your posting (July 10/05). My husband and I have gone through much the same, though without the actual phoning around that you've done - just wondering "what the hell????" whenever our favoured Wink appears then disappears then reappears then disappears again from Loblaws shelves.

                                      We can now find Cplus Wink Twist in 2 litre bottles at Loblaws but much prefer cans. Where can we find them? There is a 1-866 # on the bottle which I will call on Monday, but enjoyed your posting so much thought I'd e-mail you instead!

                                      Keep up the good work. Wink. Wink.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MAG

                                        I've emailed you directly with the only known supply of Wink in cans in Toronto.

                                      2. b
                                        Brian Reynolds

                                        We found 6 cases of the new "Wink Twist" in cans in Brockville in the middle of July (2005). But I've been checking back ever since hoping the "Wink Truck" would come and so far no luck for a whole month!

                                        Do you have any clues where we could order this precious substance "wholesale" from a distributer?

                                        We spend our summers in Canada and our winters in Maryland so it will be hard for us to take advantage of a winter-only stocking period!

                                        Thank you for all your great research!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Brian Reynolds

                                          Wink (technically Wink Twist) in cans has indeed been spotted in several locations in Toronto.
                                          Secret emails have been flying around and Chowhound Investigative Agents (wearing the obligatory dark glasses) have successfully restocked their limited supplies. A recent commando raid was successful in acquiring cases at 3 for $10 (instead of the $3.99-$4.59 normal price). The code word for this operation was toss-edicts. Exact location(s) will only be revealed in one-on-one communications.

                                        2. c-plus wink is filth. yukum. bring back old wink!!!!

                                          1. bumping this wonderful post. Still forelorn that original wink is not available. Can anyone confirm or deny that the new wink is really inferior, or is it close to the original.

                                            13 Replies
                                            1. re: ryth

                                              To be fair, the New Wink (if & when available) is still better than most other soft drinks. Maybe not as good as the 'original' - but that's gone for good.
                                              If you want a 'mix' then I recommend Ting - has a good grapefruit kick with a ginger background.
                                              If a soft drink, then the 'Compliments' brand at Metro Supermarkets is about the best.

                                              1. re: estufarian

                                                I do love my Ting, but it's still no Wink! I'll keep my eye out for the new stuff. Also thanks again Estufarian for your great post! I was actually looking for some decent pictures of a classic can/bottle of original wink on the web, and couldn't really find anything.

                                                If anyone can find *good* pictures of wink/bottles/cans i'd encourage you to post a link!

                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                  My husband and i are planning a trip back home to Wink country. We're currently in Northern BC and would LOVE to know where we can buy wink in Ontario. We'll be hitting North Bay, the GTA and Woodstock areas. Thanks for any help you can lend on this.

                                                  1. re: dianneevans62

                                                    Sorry - it seems to have been destroyed by the Dr Pepper people. I started to write a post on my frustrations, when trying to track it down earlier this year, but decided the post wasn't appropriate.
                                                    They 'claim' the syrup is still being produced in very small quantities, but are not allowed to say where. They wouldn't give me the name of any markets where it is still available and said they would call me back with any further information - except they'd never taken my phone number!

                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                      2 items for fellow Wink lovers!
                                                      1) A product called "Finnish Line" tastes just like wink, just slightly alcoholic. I sampled it at my local liquor store. My husband and I just looked at each other and then we both said, "Wink!"
                                                      2) Check out great old Wink commercials on youtube. Ann-Margaret!

                                                      1. re: laughy

                                                        Can't find it on the LCBO website... which store did you buy it from laughy?

                                                      2. re: estufarian

                                                        As far as I know the ONLY place you can get Wink is in North and South Carolina... not sure why, seems they have enough demand there and you can buy it at any local store. I used the Dr. Pepper product search phone system and every Zip code in the US I tried came up as not available except the Carolinas. As for Canada, forget about it, Dr. Pepper says it is available, but Coke, who is in charge of distribution in Canada says it is not. My local grocery store managers say they would order it but it does not even have a sku.

                                                        Will definitely try that Finnish Line - thanks laughy!

                                                        1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                          Your info matches mine. I even spoke to Dr Pepper (see my post above) who told me they are 'not allowed to tell me where Wink is available - I have to ask at my local store(s)'.
                                                          A huge muti-national who are not allowed to tell us where to get the product! Oh please.

                                                          Agree - the Carolinas are now the only source.
                                                          Finnish Line seems only to be available in GA (state liquor systems are as bad as in Canada - need to get a different distributor/wholesaler in each state).
                                                          My 'best alternative' right now is the 'Splendido Grapefruit Frizzante' from President's Choice (actually only says 'PC') from Loblaws - but only available in large bottles (no cans). On sale this week at $5 for 4 1 litre bottles (which is a similar price to a 12-can case of national brand drinks).

                                                          1. re: estufarian

                                                            Never tried wink...is it san pellegrino-ish? Only wondering because you suggest the splendido as best alternative.

                                                            My wife picked up a 12-pack of grapefruit soda made by Dole, I believe. Probably from Loblaws or No Frills. I'll check tonight. It was pretty refreshing and not sickeningly sweet. I have to double check to make sure it's not flavoured with aspartame, but I didn't detect it the time I tried it.

                                                            I am (was) a big Sumol fan. But alas, looks like they're using asparame now. At least in the last bottle we purchased.

                                                            1. re: grandgourmand

                                                              It hadn't occurred to me - but yes, it is San pellegrino-ish. Not a problem for me as that's my favourite sparkling water and I'm also a Limonata fan.
                                                              I'm almost certain the Dole is aspartame - I know I tried (and rejected) it in my research. And I've also said goodbye to Sumol (which I used to drink occasionally).
                                                              Splendido has a higher juice content than the 'now non-existent' Wink (12% vs 5%). But the key is that 'tang' that no other soft drink (at reasonable price) seems to deliver. As a mix I still prefer Ting. Although most of the contributors to the various "wink" threads seem to have grown up on 'Gin & Wink'.

                                                              1. re: estufarian

                                                                Just mix aranciata and limonata...or not.

                                                                Ok, just checked, Dole has aspartame. Damn, that stuff is everywhere. It also has glucose-fructose, so probably why I didn't get a strong aspartame taste.

                                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                                  Just a quick heads up that I found the Splendido Grapefruit Frizzante on sale today at 79c per litre. Given that Loblaws sales usually run from Fri-Thur then today Thur 19th will be the last day. It was NOT featured in the weekly flyer but seems to be in most stores - all are selling it for 79c, but I found several different shelf stickers. The 'accurate' one said regularly $1.99 sale 79c. One said regularly $2.19 sale 79c. One said regularly $1.99 sale 99c (but it rang up for 79c), and a couple said regularly 99c, sale 79c.

                                                                  And a couple of other notes.
                                                                  Pink Ting is awful - stick with the regular.
                                                                  Sumol now contains 'splenda' (not aspartame) - but is far too sweet. And I also find Grace too sweet.
                                                                  The President's Choice Italian Soda ($2.99, but also on sale for $2.19) is, on paper, the purest - no corn sugar derivatives added. But for me the flavour is a bit wishy-washy, so I prefer the Frizzante.

                                                  2. I am a devotee of Grace Grapefruit. I tried the Ting with my Bacchus Roti, but I prefer the tarter flavor of the Grace product. Plus its cheap, and available!

                                                    Bacchus Roti Shop
                                                    1376 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K1L7, CA

                                                    8 Replies
                                                      1. re: grandgourmand

                                                        I don't recall why I skipped the Grace - I think I found it too sweet - but will have to try it again.

                                                        1. re: estufarian

                                                          Maybe give the Schweppes bitter lemon a shot as well?

                                                          1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                                            It's not the same - too sweet and lemon (not grapefruit). Also extremely difficult to find - but possible!

                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                              Even that's too sweet eh? It's pretty...un-sweet for a soda. Good to know though. See the other thread for locations.

                                                              1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                                                The one thing about Wink was that it did not have that bitter musty taste that some Grapefruit or citrus mix sodas often have, and while I do like the PC Splendido Orange, the Grapefruit has that bitter taste that I don't like.

                                                                I actually prefer the no name versions of grapefruit soda from Sobeys and even Loblaws better, but they are still not Wink!

                                                                Hometown Favorites in the US sells Wink but they charge $4 per 1 liter bottle and shipping is crazy high to Canada... I am starting to think I should order some and have it shipped to a friend in Buffalo and pick it up from there next time I go to visit. Mostly I wonder if Wink will taste the way I remember it tasting... even the last time I had it here in Toronto it was not the same formula and taste I remember from childhood...


                                                                Just did a search online and found this GuS Star Red Grapefruit Soda, that seems to be sold at Whole Foods and other places in Toronto... has anyone tried it?



                                                                1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                                  So I had some money in my PayPal account and decided to buy some Wink from Hometown Favorites and have it shipped to my friend in Buffalo.

                                                                  Picked it up as well as some Squirt soda, and did a taste test... they tasted a lot alike and not at all what I remember Wink tasting like... probably because my memory always takes me back to the Wink of my childhood which had a sour tartness and true grapefruit taste.

                                                                  I am glad I did this taste test, I can stop obsessing about Wink and just buy Grapefruit soda from Sobey's or any of the store brand Grapefruit soda's out there, which are closer to what I remember than the current version of Wink.

                                                                  1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                                    Thanks for the report.
                                                                    Typically I find the Canadian version of soft drinks to be 'sweeter' than the US - which was why Wink was such a contrast. I've tried some of the private label brands of grapefruit in US stores and haven't been knocked out (although they are still more palatable than the usual national brands).

                                                                    In Michigan, I've found a 'flavored sparkling water' in cans by La Croix (0 calories, 0 sodium, no artificial sweeteners) which is flavoured with "natural Pamplemousse" (with the word grapefruit bracketed below in smaller type)". I wonder if they are trying to hide the fact that it's grapefruit - don't recall even 'gourmet' US produced products using the french name for any fruit before. The cans say 'Product of USA' - not that that means much - we have imported wine bottled in Canada, that says 'Product of [Province]'.
                                                                    I still support the PC Sparkling Grapefruit - I stocked up on the litre bottles at 99c and 79c in recent sales, but there does seem to be significant differences between sources (and it's back up to $1.99 right now).

                                                                    And to report on other research not finalized earlier in this thread - the Grace was 'not acceptable' for me - much too sweet; and the new (er) 'Pink Ting' was just awful, although I still like the 'original' Ting from time-to-time.

                                                                    And locally, in cans, the Sobeys and Metro versions are both OK - I buy whatever's on sale. The Loblaw's version hasn't been easy to find. Have only seen the 'artificially sweetened' version in cans - the 'regular' only seems to be around in bottles.

                                                                    And Squirt (for me) has a good citrus tang - but it seems more like tangerine. Still pleasant - but it's not Wink! Is anything?

                                                    1. I see you've commented on the Schweppes Bitter Lemon, that it's too sweet. Is that a Canadian or US version? I bought a small bottle of the stuff at an Eastern European deli this weekend on Lawrence Ave East, and it was delicious. In fact, I'm pronouncing it my non-alcoholic beverage of choice for summer 2011.

                                                      I didn't find it sweet at all (only a little) and the pleasant bitterness was the dominant flavour. It was imported from Hungary, I believe. Foreign varieties might be less sweet.

                                                      The store I went to also had a foreign variety of bitter lemon, but I didn't try it.

                                                      Sorry, not Wink.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: grandgourmand

                                                        Bitter Lemon was Canadian consumed - but don't recall where it was bottled.

                                                        Have also tried 'Pink Ting' - just awful!

                                                        Still a fan of the President's Choice Frizzante (although now $2.49 regular; occasionally on sale at $1.99 - which it was last week).

                                                        And will be travelling in North Carolina for 5 days in August - so will seek (and hopefully purchase) the last bastion of Wink.

                                                      2. Just to round out this thread – was able to travel through North Carolina and track down Wink. (Full details on http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/795749


                                                        Sadly, that beverage is a wimpy imitation of what I recall. It is now a ‘Citrus beverage’ (not Grapefruit), and the ingredients list includes apple juice (in greater quantity than grapefruit juice) and also orange juice.

                                                        To be fair it was a palatable beverage – I managed to consume a single 2 litre bottle over 5 days – but didn’t buy a second.

                                                        So I think this finally brings this entire matter to a close. R.I.P. Wink – you are missed.

                                                        1. San Pellegrino - Pompelmo. 16% grapefruit juice. Pretty darned close (maybe a bit more rind-y) but delicious.

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: Wino In Training


                                                            Found it a couple of weeks ago (for the first time in Ontario).

                                                            Still looking for a 'cheaper' source than McEwan's - where it's $7.99 for 6 cans.
                                                            Have you seen it anywhere else for less? (Was going to initiate a separate post - but got distracted when I posted on the blood orange version).

                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                              I got it at one of the food-court salad joints so paid retail for it.... I haven't even looked at stores yet.

                                                              I liked the blood orange too.

                                                              1. re: Wino In Training

                                                                My 'inquiries' so far have revealed that it's coming in via Vancouver. That's where the wholesaler who services restaurants is getting it from (both Blood Orange and Grapefruit). But not sure where the 'retail' origin is.

                                                                Some Loblaws have the Blood Orange in cans (which I've never seen before last month - occasionally bottles made it through) - but so far have only found both (in cans) at McEwans.

                                                                Maybe I should change my name to 'Blood Orange Hound'!

                                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                                  Of course, no real surprise.
                                                                  All the flavours are available at Fiesta Farms for $5.49!

                                                                  Fiesta Farms
                                                                  200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                                      So what do you think of the Pompelmo, anyway?

                                                                      1. re: Wino In Training

                                                                        It's very good - there's a hint of something in the background that bothers me though. Can't quite place it, but it may just be a different 'Flavour' profile - I'm guessing European sourced grapefruit, whereas most of what we get here is American. Presumably there's a slightly different flavour anyway.
                                                                        It seems as if the acidity may be a little lower in the Pompelmo.
                                                                        Will have to do a comparison when I have time.

                                                                2. re: estufarian

                                                                  There are 6 packs of Pompelmo at my local Metro (Keele and Lawrence) for $4.99! Deal! Waiting for it to cool before I crack one open and taste it.

                                                                  1. re: bigfatbroad

                                                                    Thanks - I checked Metro a few weeks back but it wasn't there. However I've since seen it at multiple 'upscale' stores, so perhaps it hadn't yet worked its way through the system.

                                                                    $4.99 would be the cheapest though (so far).