A Walk on the Mild Side

Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda

Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda

I Paid: $2.49 for a 12–ounce soda (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 5 stars

Lately we’ve seen a backlash to the energy drink craze, with beverages that are supposed to relax you instead. I was amused to hear about one that explicitly referenced weed, so I figured I’d give Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda a spin. It’s infused with kava, a plant from Polynesia that has a mild sedative effect when consumed in its native state. I tasted it next to another anti-energy soda called Drank.

Mary Jane’s was lightly carbonated, syrupy but palatable, with an essentially herby flavor and hints of black cherry, tangerine, and ginseng. In contrast to the grape-soda-tasting Drank (which features valerian root, melatonin, and a lot of high-fructose corn syrup), the cane sugar–based Mary Jane’s is pretty much 100 percent hippie, 0 percent gangsta.

As for the effect: Yeah, it seems to work, at least for me. After drinking a bottle, I became seriously interested in sitting on the couch. My limbs felt heavier. I was notably less neurotic. This, of course, could be a placebo effect, so in the name of research, I did something not entirely wise: I worked Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda into an exercise-based experiment. I drank it on an empty stomach, then went to the gym. Lo and behold, my average heart rate was 10 to 20 beats per minute less than it usually is on the elliptical trainer. Highly unscientific, but there you have it.

The stuff markets itself as soda that will pleasantly relax you. On those two fronts, success! It tastes like soda, and it certainly seems to back up its claims with some lazy-ass, low-heart-rate action. If you’re in California, where it’s available in some grocery stores, or you like ordering stuff online, it may very well be a legal solution to your chilling-out needs.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.