Sonic Peanut Butter Fudge Shake

Josh. It occurs to me, as perhaps it has to you, that in order to be an expert reviewer of things, one must excel at separating the element under consideration from the circumstances under which it was considered. Which is to say that a good review is one that separates the object from the experience.

In this way, John Lahr, writing in the New Yorker, is able to recognize Liev Schreiber’s bravura performance in Cymbeline for what it is: nakedly emotional, a phrase that has nothing to do with the fact that Lahr received an “Off-Broadway Obie” from his 19 year-old P.A. in the back row during the third act.

Or, to put it in language a bit closer to your vernacular: when we used to drink Country Kwencher Boone’s Farm every Friday night down in your mom’s basement, the fact that your older brother kept calling me a dickbag for not agreeing to arm wrestle him in no way colored my ability to cherish the time you and I spent together.

The truly accurate review is the product of a culture of calipers and hairnets: delimit the stimuli and disregard outlier emotions. Equality in pursuit of objectivity. Every new experience approached as though it were a SaniTaco. I believe there is value in the cultivation of this ability, and I’m glad there are people who do it, but I don’t think I need to tell you I have no interest in living my life that way.

Josh, I’ve been really stressed and sad lately. I know you could tell from my last post, and the sob-choked messages I leave on your voicemail every night around 2 AM, which you do not return, but I know that’s just your way of helping me remain strong by teaching me to lower my expectations.

So the other night, after another long day of being stressed about work and the environment and the political and economic situations and the near-constant threat of zombie attack, we decided to skip our family’s normal evening routine, and threw everyone in the car for a trip to Sonic.

It was suddenly fall in the Midwest, and it was one of those evenings where the setting sun was so immense and red that you can’t help but realize that we are hurtling through space. We got to Sonic, pulled in and ordered, and the car hop waitron brought out our drinks. I of course got to do my thing where I taste one sip of whatever everyone else in the car has ordered, despite their objections. This is not hegemony; it is science. As I vowed to you when we first started this site, I am a bevpert first, a decent human being second.

Like I mentioned up above, I ordered the Peanut Butter Fudge shake. You know, as well as anyone, my thing about dairy, but careful application of sugar and dairy can greatly dull the pain of living. Penicillin is made of mold, and sometimes the things that are best for us are the things that are worst for us.

So I sat there in the car with my family at the Sonic in the cornfields, and we all had our drinks, and the sky grew dark and the neon lights blinked on. There were other families there, talking and laughing. We had the windows open, and there was a sense that this would be one of the last warm nights of the season. We watched the stars and planets coming out over the fields, and the trains hurtling past on their way to the cities.

And here is my review: everything about that evening was amazing, and just exactly what I needed from the universe that day. And I wished everyone I loved could experience this, in whatever way would hold the most meaning for them: this overwhelming appreciation for being in a certain place, at a perfect moment, with the people who are most important in your life. I hope this happens for you, if it hasn’t already. It was amazing. I can’t tell you. It was amazing.

Cherry Coke Zero

Some situations I am currently concerned about:

  • the political/electoral, and the continuous waves of stunned disbelief it gives rise to;
  • recent natural disasters here and abroad and the ensuing sense of this-will-only-get-worse;
  • wide-scale domestic economic mayhem (and the ensuing sense of (see above));
  • that war thing that is still happening;
  • just this vague yet pervasive post-millenial unease.

Anyways let’s talk sodas!

Oh but wait here come some things the internet wants you to have an opinion on:

  • apparently there is a Google browser, Josh, you use it to look at the internet;
  • the Lindsay & Samantha situation, we need to be supportive;
  • what does it say about us as a country that we sit idly by and allow our government to force prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to read the comments on YouTube;
  • serious, don’t you totally love [the thing everyone won’t shut up about this week, probably it’s a TV show]???

I’m not saying:

  • that I don’t have opinions.

I’m just saying:

  • it’s hard. Especially for a person who is seeking relief in his personal life from strongly-held and hastily-considered opinions.

Here are some of the things I do currently have opinions about:

  • If there was a WordPress plug-in that granted or denied access to this website for each reader based on his or her level of enthusiasm for a certain current VP nominee, I would not hesitate to ask Josh to install it;
  • I am definitely a winter and my face looks sallow when I wear pastels so I should probably stop doing it;
  • Twitter didn’t kill the internet, but it didn’t volunteer to drive it to the hospital, either;
  • Lips that touch cochineal / dinnae have sex appeal.
  • sometimes a man is too tired to stand up while he pees, but that does not make him any less of a man, he did climb all those stairs after all.

Reasons I’m thinking about all this:

  • posting an opinion of something on the internet is the karmic equivalent of shouting into the ear of your very deaf great grand-aunt at Thanksgiving, who does not remember your name, and who is more likely to accuse you of trying to steal her purse then ever pass the sweet potatoes;
  • I get asked my opinions on beverage-related topics all the time, and it’s almost always a trap.

People want to know my opinions on:

  • a certain drink no one except them knows about;
  • high-fructose corn syrup;
  • diet sodas and artificial sweeteners.

I tell them:

  • Yeah, cool;
  • Yes it’s bad, but life is complicated;
  • Yes they’re not as good for you as water, but soda and Tumblr are my only vices, so, you know, I feel like Heaven is still in the offing.

They can’t believe:

  • I haven’t! heard! of that! beverage!;
  • I know the horrors of HFCS but would still willingly occasionally put them in my body;
  • I seriously think diet sodas are better for you than regular soda—they actually CAUSE more weight gain than regular soda, plus give you all that cancer.

So, like that.

But despite:

  • life being what it is;
  • people being what they are;
  • all the above-mentioned non-beverage, non-internet worries that keep me awake at night and engender in me a deep-seated fear for my family’s long-term safety on this planet,

I do occasionally like to drink:

  • Cherry Coke Zero.


  • good. It basically tastes like regular Cherry Coke. Not exactly, but closer than you’d expect, which makes it one of the better diet sodas there is. They stock it at my office. It costs me nothing. I drink one and then move on to other things.

Somewhere beyond the mechanical roar of the internet:

  • life continues.

McDonald’s Sweet Tea


Josh have I mentioned about McDonald’s Sweet Tea yet. I like it. It was basically my drink this summer.

As you probably know it’s the only thing on their menu I can eat, between the vegetarianism and the lactose intolerance and the soul-crushing abhorrence of all things fun and entertaining. I get the kids the occasional Happy Meal* and you know, it’s been a hot summer, Josh. One might even say it’s been cruel. Don’t I deserve something for myself? Yes. I deserve something.

The McD’s Sweet Tea has spent the last few months on the McDonald’s dollar menu, which means it’s almost dumber not to get it. Particularly if, like me, you find single dollar bills to be the grossest thing since coined money. Think about singles, Josh. Who touches them? The homeless, and people who wear v-neck t-shirts and frequent the neighborhood bar because they don’t own a TV. That money is unclean and letting it malinger in my wallet will only cause me harm in the long run. Best to spend it quickly and wring what little enjoyment out of it I can.

Originally my drink this summer was going to be the Vanilla Diet Coke from Steak & Shake. They use real vanilla, and the large is actually quite large. It is a satisfying beverage for a hot day, when you are driving around, avoiding life. But even here in the midwest we do not yet have a Steak & Shake on every block, whereas one is never more than a casual javelin toss from a McDonald’s. Hence the sweet tea, and its reign as my drink of the summer. And by the way, on behalf of K4T, congratulations to Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen on his performance at the Beijing Olympics this summer. Norge bør være svært stolte!

I’ll just say this: I don’t know what science lab they make it in, what horrifying resources were squandered in its creation, but at least it takes like actual tea. Not like the stuff at McAllisters. Do you have McAllister’s where you live? They are a chain restaurant that positions itself as THE place to go for southern-style sweet tea. They laud their tea as “famous”, which it is not, by any discernible measure save their own say-so. All I know is McDonald’s’s tastes better. Perhaps they are using more insidious chemicals to mimic real tea flavor. Or maybe it’s just that they’re throwing more marketing resources at the problem. Or, perhaps I’ve just given up. Either way, I like it, and for now, that will be enough to carry me one more time around this unbearable sun.

So there. There is my positive review of a beverage which was clearly added to the menu of a globally-maligned chain restaurant—inextricably linked to the downfall of society—in order to incentivize additional upsell opportunities. I offer it freely to an undeserving internet, to be drowned out amongst the top ten lists and celebrity upskirts; the paid blogvertisements and Apple punditry, the mp3s from bands who formed last week and will have already broken up this time next week when the tide has turned against them; the anonymous, unyielding firehose of homophobic, sexist, racist and completely off-topic comments; and the endlessly navel-gazing and villifying arguments between people who’ve never met on the minutae of topics in which they have no personal stake. I give this to you. You! I give this to you.

*Yes, actually, I do know that buying my children Happy Meals makes me the worst parent since Grandpappy Hitler spared the rod, but unlike most bloggers, my writing on the internet is not borne of loneliness and self-hatred and a desperate need to have my decisions justified by people as sad and hopeless as I am. Thanks, though!

McDonald’s Minty Mudbath Shake

A List Of Reasons Why I Might Possibly Need A Treat This Week:

  • Had a date but forgot how fast I get pit stains when the temperature is above 20 °C.
  • Wore my new hiphuggers but no one lovingly referred to me as a muffin top.
  • Sarah in Accounts Receivable did her impression of how loudly I blow my nose and everyone had a good laugh when they did not know that I was within earshot, hearing the whole thing, and I am sorry that I blow my nose so loudly but I have a condition.
  • My parrot, Professor Wikipedia, refuses to talk to me anymore, and when I ask him to do his wolf whistle, or if he would like a cracker, he just goes “Page not found L-O-L!” (And I did not teach him that.)
  • I sent Josh an email almost a whole day ago, and all I’ve received in return so far is his usual “AFK, either blind off Maw’s hooch or ruining another toilet maybe both and if this is Kiven (sp?) I thought I said fuck off” autoresponder.

Is it any wonder, with a week like this, that I might run bawling in the direction of the nearest frozen ice creamy treat? Even if said treat is at McDonald’s? Can I be forgiven for such a crime against humanity/cows/rainforests/whatever? It’s so easy for you all to judge me, you don’t have my life. You don’t have my pit stains. You don’t have Josh to deal with. You don’t know the special place McDonald’s shakes used to have in my life. Especially around St Patrick’s Day, when Dad’s alcoholic haze would lift just enough for him to pile us in the car for Shamrock Shakes. “Kids,” he would say, “Your mom hates you and it’s your fault she left, but there was ne’er a pain that a Shamrock Shake wouldn’t quiet.”

And god damn it, he was right. Little did my dad know that a lifetime spent drowning my emotions in sugary juices and sodas would one day lead me to starting this website. I guess I have him to thank for that. And the fact that none of my belts fit.

Shamrock Shakes are gross now, by the way. I guess at some point they began replacing the mint flavoring with Wintergreen ‘Tussin? Kinda weird, not really my thing. The Minty Mudbath doesn’t fare much better; the chocolate and mint don’t blend so much as cancel each other out. Pretty disappointing. Normally when a drink has a name like “mud bath” you expect it to be so good.

Mountain Dew Limited Edition Halo 3 Game Fuel

Dag Josh I wish you had been the one writing this beview because it would have been a great opportunity for you to do one of your patented Behind The Scenes dialogue imaginariums. Like you’ve got the Microsoft/Bungie people on one side of the room, and the Mountain Dew/PepsiCo suits on the other side, all banging their noggins together and saying just the most ridiculous ideas for what kind of soda would help sell Halo 3 to gamers. I picture you writing something very hilarious. (I picture you writing SOMETHING OK that was uncalled for.)

So anyways it would be fun to imagine how that conversation went, because somewhere along the line, for some reason I cannot even begin to wrap my head around, someone decided that a good marketing campaign would center around a soda that tastes like a mouthful of Starburst-flavored condoms. And then other people OK’d that idea. And then hundreds of other people got out of bed the next morning and set to work, bringing that idea to life.

Related: I’m kind of not super excited about the next 50+ years on this planet.

Anyhooters. Halo 3 isn’t out yet, so if you want to know does this beverage make you awesome at using the gravity gun to remove Miranda Keye’s pantaloons, hold tight. I do not have that information yet. But I can tell you that after drinking this I did absolutely whale on some Super Mario Bros. 2 on the GBA. I finished the game using Luigi almost exclusively! There was just this one part where I had to use Toad b/c homey is waaay faster at picking up the Birdo eggs and I was getting mad pissy at the game. You know how I do.

Vita Coco

Aiiiiiieeeeee why do I even bother. Even though I’d already completely besmirched the name of this drink in the asides, when I came upon it in the wild, I allowed myself to get all curious and intrigued despite myself. Because god damn it, where I come from coconut + pineapple = piña colada, and that is the kind of solid beverage a man can hang his Kangol on, nephew.

But no, my previous complaints about Zico are still valid: God or Science or whoever has not taken my advice and re-engineered natural coconut water flavor, it still tastes like complete saliva ass. At least in this case it’s a little sweeter and more fruity than Zico, like tongue-kissing Carmen Miranda, maybe. OMG YOU GUYS did I just make a Carmen Miranda reference on the internet? God, what year is it. No one will have any idea what I’m talking about, and I’m too lazy to think of a more inspired simile.

Well while I’m showing my age, I will also tell a related anecdote from my personal life. The other day my 4-year-old was doing something, I don’t know what, maybe playing video games?, when suddenly he stopped and looked off into the middle distance for a moment and then turned to me and said: “Everyone’s slobber tastes the same.”

Which: YES. And coconut water tastes like everyone’s slobber, although it will apparently take me a lifetime to learn this lesson.

PS. Confidential to Josh: This comes in a Tetra Pak, which I know gets you all boney maronie.

Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray

There’s this Spanish billboard for Sierra Mist that’s near my work, and I see it every day, and I think about it every day.

Against a blank white background is a giant bottle of S. Mist surrounded by small people. One small guy is chainsawing the bottle vertically, chopping off the front half. This half is falling over onto three other small people, who are recoiling in terror, about to be crushed. The back half of the bottle stays put, revealing what is contained within Sierra Mist: blue skies and white fluffy clouds. There is a Spanish tagline but I can’t remember what it says.

The whole thing looks like it was assembled from royalty-free stock photos in some program that you use when you can’t afford Photoshop. I find it fascinating.

Advertising Expert A: What’s inside a bottle of Sierra Mist? A nice summer day is what.

Advertising Expert B: You mean metaphorically.

A: Keep up with me now. How do we communicate that visually.

B: The viewer dives into a giant bottle and swims around some kind of magical summertime dreamworld.

A: OK but we only have this one picture of the bottle. And only about $200 left in the budget. And this is a billboard.

B: We have someone slice open the bottle and it’s like hell-o!

A: Like with a fucking katana?

B: Yeah like a ninja of some sort.

A: The bottle needs to be the hero, though. Needs to be really big.

B: So he’s the littlest ninja.

A: What if instead it was like a lumberjack, chopping down a tree. That way the sizing thing makes more sense.

B: He’s got a chainsaw.

A: Yeah but except he can’t cut it like a tree, like horizontally, because we need to see the nice summer day inside, so he’s got to cut it from top to bottom.

B: No argument over here. What if he chops that thing and it falls on some people?

A: What the hell are you saying to me right now.

B: Billboards are wide. We need something to fill up the right side.

A: How about a nice tagline like a normal person!

B: Picture it, they’re all: Aiieeeeeee!

A: Because … because the flavor is so big and overpowering and delicious? It could actually crush you?

B: Yeah man. Doy.

A: Dang man you’ve done it again. Let’s put our clothes back on and type this up before we forget!


There’s another one where the little people are trying to climb into the bottle via giant straw, but at least with that one you sort of understand the message.

Anyway I’ve been trying to write a review of Cel-Ray for about a month now and I can’t get beyond: “Hi dudes yeah it tastes exactly like you’d imagine celery soda would taste!!” Fuckin’ Cel-Ray. I suppose if you like ginger ale but want something more in the celery department, you should basically look no further.

You’d think it’d be a gross novelty drink like those turkey-and-gravy ones, but it’s really just kind of inoffensive, like the vegetable from which it is spawned. I figure you’re either picking it up in a Jewish deli without really thinking about it because you’re 78 years old, or you’re making a special trip to find it and then flaunting it in the break room, being all: “Eww look what I’m drinking, here taste this, ewww.”

Frankly my favorite part about this drink is the name. I’m pretty sure Cel-Ray’s new joint drops on August 7. Supposedly taking his sound in a whole new direction, really changing the game up.

Lemon Shake-Ups

Jiggedy wiggedy. I do not know what you do for fun where you live. I picture you high atop a mountain, staring glumly at the ground, bummed that you couldn’t find any dinosaur bones. How close is that to your actual deal, I wonder. But around where I live it is COUNTY FAIR SEASON. Yay for County Fairs and BOO to everything else. Tractor pulls and wood chopping contests. Demolition Derby and The Scrambler. Throw a dart and pop a balloon and win a small mirror with Bang Tango on it. Some lovely delightful little treats like Fried Twinkies and Pickle-On-A-Stick, Funnel Cake/Elephant Ears/Fried Dough and oh my God, what? What’s that? What’s the best part of the best part? Uh yes that would be Lemon Shake-Ups.

Lemon Shake-Ups, I am basically convinced at this point, are the best part of summer. You can get them at other times during the year, but you should not. Likewise you can get them at non-county-fair locales, but again you should not. Stick with what works. Stop fucking around. Just as insightful pop culture commentary belongs in an article written by Stephen King in an issue of Entertainment Weekly, so do Lemon Shake-Ups belong on the midway at the fair in the small town during the summer.

There are plenty of decent recipes on the webs for Lemon Shake-Ups (We never talk about recipes. What’s that about? You’d think we would, occasionally. Are we too butch for our own good?) but me I prefer to have mine made by an expert (ideally an old church woman or a Mexican on a TN visa).

Anyways I hope you have fairs where you live this summer, so you can go have one. I feel bad for you if you can’t. If there are no fairs where you live, maybe you could start one! I always felt there was some latent Carny in you. Explore that.

Also if anyone has any other midway fair beverage treats that they like, I would like to hear about it. You can also get Orange and Strawberry Shake-ups, but that ain’t my scene, Sizzlean.

Mike’s Hard Lime

All right. Fine, OK, whatever. Jesus, stop looking at me like that. It’s just that I’ve been a little sick of all the juices and sodas lately. The other night I was food shopping, lonely as a cloud in the beverage aisles, thinking The next company that tries to make me drink something cherry-vanilla’d or green-tea’d is getting stabbed in the ass, AND NOT IN THE GOOD WAY.

But then —just like at Homecoming, when the DJ played “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” and I thought I was going to be alone for the rest of my life, and then Joanne, this girl from Chemistry who I’d never really noticed, asked me to dance, and suddenly, there in the gymnasium, under the streamers and disco ball, I realized She’s actually not a complete dog, if you ignore her breath and acne— there it was: Mike’s Hard Lime, jumping off the shelf and into my lap and heart. I mean it’s basically soda, right? With the sugar and the carbonation and what not? We’ve talked once before about my predilection for the fruity malt beverages, and not a thing has changed.

I’m not really an alcohol drinker, like, at all. Because I only enjoy sweet things, beer and wine for me are the potable equivalents of beets and cauliflower. Unfortunately this sudden love affair with Mike’s Hard Lime is turning out to cause major problems: I’m having a hard time reconciling my love for it with my normal, non-alcoholic beverage drinking tendencies. When I was checking out at the supermarket, I was like Oh man, I am drinking two of these as soon as I get to my car. No. Bad. Every morning I see them in the fridge and think: OMG I definitely need to have one of those before work. Also very bad. I seriously want to drink these all the time—while holding the baby and operating heavy machinery and writing on my blog and everything! I’m just saying please keep a close eye on me. You don’t suppose Mike’s Hard Lime is a gateway drug, do you? Watch there be a pomegranate-and-açai-infused meth. That’s all I need.