Unfortunate Food

Mott's Clamato "Energia" energy drink
rating: :) :) :) :)

Because nothing spells "refreshment" quite like caffeinated clams in tomato juice...

But no, seriously – what in the crispy-fried hell was Motts' product-development team smoking when they came up with this?

Clamato, for those of you fortunate enough to not have heard of it, is a juice blend consisting of tomato juice and "reconstituted dried clam broth" (I kid you not), introduced by Mott's in 1969 and acquired by Cadbury Beverages in 1982.  (Why on earth they wanted to acquire it is a question perhaps best left unanswered.)  It is, according to the company's website, the "undisputed market leader in the Seafood Blend category" – which is a lot like Caledonian Kitchen claiming to be "America's #1 brand of canned haggis"; it may be technically accurate, but it's not like anyone's really competing with you for that that particular title, either.  (At least, I fervently hope there's no competition for that title, because the alternative is far too disturbing to contemplate.)

Clamato's "popularity", such as it is, seems to stem mostly from the fact that it's the prime ingredient in something called a "Bloody Caesar", which is (as near as I can tell) basically just a variation of the Bloody Mary made with vodka, Clamato, and mashed clams,  The Bloody Caesar, and thus Clamato, are both inexplicably popular in Canada; what, exactly, this says about our neighbors to the north, is probably also a question best left unanswered.

OK, OK, no accounting for taste, and all that.  Actually, I don't really have anything against Clamato, per se.  In a way, one actually has to admire the stuff just for its sheer tenacity.  It belongs to a small, yet unmovable fraternity of grocery-store products whose presence is seemingly eternal.  No one has ever actually witnessed anyone buying these products, but somehow they manage to cling to their little slices of shelf space while all around them other products with far more widespread appeal (and far less dehydrated mollusk content) come and go.  But this – I mean, cripes, does everything have to get re-invented as an "energy drink" now?  Who, exactly, is the target market for a Red Bull wanna-be that consists of tomato juice, taurine, ginseng, guarana, high-fructose corn syrup, and clam broth?  And what kind of advertising campaign could you possibly mount to get people to actually try the stuff, anyway?

  • "Clamato – it gives you fins!"
  • "Clamato Energia – A Clam-inated slap in the face!"
  • "Clamato – Party like a rock lobster!"
  • And worse, it's not even as if this stuff packs any kind of supercharged vitamin-loaded whallop that might allow it to gain a few shreds of credibility as some kind of nasty, yet nutritious "health-food" beverage.  One can Clamato Energia only delivers 6% of your RDA of Vitamin A, and 10% each of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C – along with a whopping 830mg of sodium, which makes it barely more nutritious than an Egg McMuffin.  (Which at least has the advantage of not having clam juice in it.)

    It's interesting – and a bit relieving – to note that this stuff seems to have bypassed the supermarket shelves (around here, anyway) and gone straight to the shelves of Big!Lots, the place where massive overstocks of stupidly ill-conceived products go to die.  They've got about a zillion cans of it stacked up in the corner, too – apparently, the American palate just isn't quite ready for an energy drink that's "98% clam-free."  (Yes, that was actually the slogan of a Clamato advertising campaign back in the 1980s.  And yes, the campaign was spectacularly unsuccessful.)

    Verdict:   No... f---ing... way.