16 August 2009

Product Review: Clamato Tomato Cocktail

Earlier today, I was planning to cook cioppino for my family's Sunday dinner. I skimmed through various recipes online, to remind me what ingredients to buy and the basic cooking methods involved. I noticed some recipes called for clam broth and at least one mentions using Clamato tomato cocktail as an alternative. While I was at the supermarket, I was a bit pressed for time, so I wasn't able to find bottled clam juice, but I was able to buy fresh clams, and I also quickly grabbed some Clamato.

When I got home, I decided to first taste some Clamato, since I was seriously considering cooking with it. No surprise, the flavor reminded me of canned tomato juice with a hint of clams, which clearly was the intent. I thought it was an acceptable beverage, especially since I've consumed plenty of Campbell's tomato juice, V8 vegetable juice, and bloody mary mix cans over the years. (I frequently enjoy bloody mary mix as my inflight airline beverage of choice, as it's spicy and savory, instead of sweet like most other drinks; the saltiness helps me from getting dehydrated on the plane; and there's usually plenty of it available, since so few other people request it.)

Just as I began thinking about how Clamato might fit into my cioppino recipe, I read the ingredients list, and to my horror, I saw high fructose corn syrup was the third ingredient (after water and tomato concentrate), monosodium glutamate (also known as MSG) was the fourth ingredient, coming just before salt, and after a handful of other items, the final ingredient listed was Red 40, which I understand to be an artificial food coloring.

I don't usually concern myself too much with MSG, as I understand glutamate to occur naturally in many basic foods, but I had no strong interest in getting MSG involved with my homemade cioppino. I was really not happy to see the high fructose corn syrup, nor the artificial food coloring, and I immediately decided that Clamato was not going into my cioppino.

And what the hell is going on with the music and all the silhouette dancers on the Clamato website?!? Seems a bit overblown for a tomato cocktail beverage. Is there some intentional targeting towards a Latin demographic with this campaign? Or, is it some sort of push to get night clubbers to order up Clamato, perhaps with vodka? Should I expect psychedelic visions of dancing figures in my head after a quick shot of Clamato?

Since a clam flavor is not something I regularly seek out, I don't expect to reach for Clamato again in the supermarket. Given its inclusion of HFCS and artificial food coloring, I have to give the product a thumbs down.