Johnny’s Roadside Extreme Flavor Lemon Iced Tea

I am all over any drink that boldly declares “Extreme Flavor”, “Product of Canada” and “Contains 0% Juice.” Always and forever. See my stomach frown and nod as if to indicate “It’s true. He does, and it makes me oh so sad.” as I reach eagerly for a bottle of Johnny’s Roadside Extreme Flavor Lemon Iced Tea.

(For some reason I want to refer to it as Johnny Roadside’s, not Johnny’s Roadside. Johnny’s by the roadside, fixing up the medicine.)

The “Extreme” is that this is a thick, heavily-brewed tea. It’s really angrily robust and tastes as though it’s been sitting out, steeping all day long in your grandma’s dusty parlor, where you sit eyeing the candy in the sucker dish, wondering how old it is. The “Lemon” is actually citric acid; it’s strange that they brand the product “lemon iced tea” because there’s really no lemon flavor to it at all, just the really acrid bitterness caused by the acid.

I would have loved this drink in high school. My friends and I were typical bored suburbanite teenagers, creating games based on dares to pass the evenings. We drank syrup of ipecac and maced each other just to see how it felt. We played Flour Football (you and your opponent stand at opposite ends of the biggest room in the house, simultaneously heaving unopened sacks of flour granny-style, as high and hard as you can, at each other. The object is for you to each catch the flours so that they don’t explode all over the floor, but it’s difficult to throw and catch accurately after a few beers.) We spent hours sitting around the kitchen table, daring each other to eat or drink the grossest things in the pantry. (“I’ll eat a table spoon of dog food if you eat half a stick of butter and a big glass of Clamato.”)

The way that Johnny’s Roadside Lemon Iced Tea felt like it was melting through my stomach makes me think that it could definitely have played some small role in our sport.

But now, I’m older, and I have an inkling that it would best be used as a really thorough enema. I confess that I don’t know what liquids the best enemas are generally comprised of, but surely, Johnny’s Roadside would be near the top? I will leave it you to test out my hypothesis. I’m told you know a lot about enemas.

Snapple-A-Day Meal Replacement

Yesterday, instead of my normal lunch (whatever twigs and nuts I can scavenge from the bird feeder outside my cubicle window) I had one of them Snapple-a-Day Meal Strawberry Banana Meal Replacement beverages.

The question that I’m sure you’re asking right now is: Well, did it actually replace a meal?

The answer is: What am I, a scientist?

The problem, I realized afterwards, was that I never really committed to it.

One time at Speaker’s Corner in London I listened to this guy who was screaming at the top of his lungs about how if every single person on Earth simultaneously turned their faces away from the sky, the Universe would cease to exist. Drinking a meal replacement beverage is exactly like that.

If you’re going to drink a meal replacement beverage, you have to really believe that the beverage will be replacing a meal. Because after all, it’s just a smoothie with some extra carbs and vitamins in it, and smoothies have long been considered a lunch add-on, not a substitute-for. The large Coffee Mocha shake at Steak & Shake, now there is a fucking meal-replacement. That bitch will put you down for the count. It pummels your stomach into a broken mess and they leans over and yells: “….And stay down!”

11 ounces of strawberry-banana Snapple: not so much.

And so in hindsight what I should not have done is I should not have packed such a tasty-looking sandwich that morning. I should have just packed my bottle of Snapple-a-Day, and then spent the rest of the morning glaring at myself in the mirror, psyching myself up by shouting “You are going to drink the shit out of that juice and be totally sated!” while “Mama Said Knock You Out” blared in the background.

But I was all “just in case.”

All morning I was thinking: “Man I bet that sandwich is going to be good. Of course, I will most likely be so full from my meal-replacement beverage that I will have no use for the aforementioned mouth-watering sandwich of wonderfulness, and in fact probably even thinking about it will cause my stomach to convulse in terror. “No puedo mas!” my poor little spanish-speaking stomach will cry.
I felt that sandwich calling out to me in desparation from the refrigerator all morning. “Please avail yourself of me!” it cried (in English).

In the interest of plugging my stomach’s ear-holes to the cries of the sandwich, I busted out the Snapple-a-Day at 11:30 am. It tasted almost exactly like the Banana-Strawberry smoothie from Fresh Samantha. It had that chalky graininess. It was pretty good. It was pretty filling.

I ate my sandwich 20 minutes later, with little fuss or drama.

Pibb Xtra

I am right now drinking a Pibb Xtra. I am doing this 100% for YOU, because I already had that Ovaltine this morning, and frankly I’ve been overdoing it on sugar lately and a soda is probably the last thing on Earth I need right now. But in group we’ve been talking about how sometimes there’s My Needs and then there’s The World’s Needs. Marco (he’s the facilitator) explained it all to me using the metaphor of a glass of water—like the Glass of My Needs is right in front of me and I’d barely even have to get out of my chair to take a sip, whereas the Glass of The World’s Needs is way over on the other side of the table, but that glass is cleaner and maybe the water has a slice of lemon in it, so if I actually got up out of my chair and walked around to take a sip of The World’s Needs I would find myself way more refreshed.

But like I explained to Marco, The Glass of My Needs contains my desire to take my neighbor’s yappy little poodle and put it up on the roof of the high school, and he was saying that the Glass of The World’s Needs is full of many things, such as dogs not liking to be on high school roofs, and high schools not wanting dogs on their roofs, and poodle-owners wanting their dogs to be on the ground at all times. And I was like But Marco, my glass is right in front of me and I really want to put the poodle on the roof of the high school and he said that maybe if I look again the Glass of My Needs is actually full of Peaceful and Legal Conflict Resolution Resulting from Open Conversation with my Neighbor about his Annoying Dog. And I just remember staring into the glass for a really long time as the room began to spin around me—the meds were really kicking in—but I think I managed to find a drop of Punching Marco in the Face deep down in my glass before they grabbed me from behind and dragged me back to my room.

So: about the Pibb Xtra that I’m drinking and which I want less than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life, ever. Here’s why I’m enjoying drinking it, and it’s the only reason: because I get to write a review that will smash your girly little hopes and dreams into oblivion.

Pibb Xtra is a scam. It’s not some Vin Diesel’d recharge of Mr Pibb, it’s just a rebranding ploy. If you have read claims that Pibb Xtra is an all new flavor, then hear this: they are confusing the issue with half-truths and gorilla dust.

What I think happened is Coca-Cola (purveyors of Mr Pibb) saw that Dr Pepper was releasing Red Fusion and they totally freaked like “Oh man how are we going to counter?” And the marketing guys were like “Dude I got nothing.” But then Tommy from Accounting was like “My son’s a fucking idiot, and he’ll buy any piece of shit that has the words “Xtreme Blastin'” in front of it. And the VPs were all “Dear Marketing Department: Please clean out your desks, there’s a new sheriff in town.”

I was never a huge fan of Pibb or of Dr Pepper, though. I think it all goes back to the time I was in London, and I noticed that while the Dr Peppers in the USA all say “natural flavors” on the side, in England they say “contains prune juice.” Which is just like, I’m sorry, what??? You’re making soda out of prune juice and not telling the American people? Don’t you think they’d want to know that?
So to sum up, Pibb Xtra Suxx, and Red Fusion retains its title as the best soda in the Dr/Mr genre.

Okay. Now I’m going to go back to crying about the new Liz Phair album. I’m so upset about it that a certain neighbor’s yappy dog will very likely end up on the roof of the high school tonight.

Fuze Mojo Mango

On the day that same-sex marriages are legal in the United States, I’m going to ask the Fuze Corporation to be my husband. I will wear a Vera Wang dress with a princess waist. Entertainment at the reception will be provided by the lovely Miss Vinia Mojica. And on the honeymoon I will let Fuze tie me to the bed and have his tasty, juicy way with me.

This week I tried Mojo Mango. I really just wanted to have another go at the Agave Cactus, but in the interest of science, et cetera, I sallied forth to uncharted territory. Now: unlike you, I’ve had mango juice before. Straight-up it’s very sweet and thick and not really my favorite. I might even say “mucousy.” It’s great as a mixer, but not so great on its lonesome. So I wasn’t sure what I was in for.

But dang, man. Why did I even doubt. The good people at Fuze just get me, on a deep and wonderful emotional level. They make products that say: “Here. Here is the beauty you dream about every night but forget each morning with the rising of the sun. You forget because the dream is too lovely, and life is so painful. Wandering in the harsh light of day, searching for a flavor that only existed in your dreams, your soul would be torn asunder. But here. It is a new day. Come into our arms and let us hold you and rock you and slowly sing you awake.”

And so it was that I held the bottle aloft, tilted my head back, and a stream of beautiful and delicate little fairies flew into my mouth and gently bathed my tongue with their mango tears.

It was not too sweet. It was not too syrupy. I kept thinking: I’m going to wake up any second. No way is this real. Any minute now the alarm will ring, or the sky will turn into Cookie Monster and admonish me for not doing my homework, and I will know that none of this is real.

But nothing like that happened. When I finished drinking, I just stood there, blinking back the wonderment, and the little fairies hovered nearby, patiently awaiting my reaction. “Someone pinch me!” I said. And one of the fairies swooped down and in a little squeaky voice said “Rarrr!” before biting me on the knuckle with her little fairy teeth.

And I examined the teensy little bite mark on my knuckle, and I started laughing, and the fairies starting laughing, and we all just laughed and laughed and laughed.

Cochineal Extract

Had a Snapple Pink Lemonade recently. What’s the phrase I’m looking for. Pedestrian workmanship, maybe? Bursting with adequatulence? Like many Snapple flavors it’s no alarms, no surprises. I guess I like my juices a little more risky. It’s fine enough. Although halfway through drinking it I almost threw up and had to pull the car over.

I remembered that I shouldn’t be drinking pink beverages without reading the label. You’re an omnivore so you probably don’t care about things like this, but veggies like me live in fear of cochineal extract. Cochineal is a bug that is known for its red coloring. It’s commonly used in a juices and lipsticks. They live on cacti and they’re harvested, killed, dried out, pulverized, and then poured into the vats of whatever’s brewing. Ruby Red Grapefruit juice was the big culprit back in the day.

I still remember the first time I learned about this. In college, this girl I was hot for was in the Animal Rights group on campus. One time she came up to me and was like: “Don’t ever drink Ruby Red Grapefruit juice. It has cochineal extract in it.”

I was like: “What’s a cochineal?”

And she was all: “I don’t know, man, but it’s got a fused ganglia.”

That was as intimate as we ever ended up getting, but ever since then I’m on the lookout.

Cochineal is also known as carmine, so be advised. But lately I haven’t seen either used much. Pretty much all of the pink and red juices and sodas, Snapple Pink Grapefruit included, have switched back over to Red 40, which is what you want. Ruby Red doesn’t use cochineal anymore, to the best of my knowledge, but they use something called canthaxanthin. Canthaxanthin is actually still an animal product, common in pinkish animals like shrimp and flamingos. It can be harvested as well as created in a lab. It’s a gray area but I steer clear just to be safe. The idea of drinking a juice that is in any way connected to bugs or flamingos is grody. Have you ever smelled a flamingo? That’s not what I want to be thinking of mid-guzzle.

Fuze Agave Cactus

The convenience store near where I catch the bus in the morning has a really random selection of juices. One the one hand they get things like Sprecher’s, and they have five flavors of Snapple that seem to be chosen by someone wearing a blindfold (they have Go Bananas, but I’m the same about banana-flavored stuff; also grapeade and diet peach tea, but no regular tea, peach or otherwise; kiwi-strawberry, but no lemonade). And then they have Veryfine orange juice and grape juice. So you see my dilemma: I can either go totally pedestrian or totally wacked out; it’s not a real wide cross-section. So this morning I ended up with a Pepsi Blue, which you know I absolutely adore, but granted is maybe not the best thing to be drinking at 7:20 in the A.M. I mean I’ve still got the rest of the day to contend with.

Dream job: working for a major chain of supermarkets, deciding what juices and sodas to stock. I pound the pavement, seeking out the hot new beverages. I’ve got Nantucket Nectars on my speed dial. College girls in swimsuits stop by the office to drop off free samples and cajole me into choosing their product. Can I get a what what.

Last night, though. Oh man. I was at the crunchy granola supermarket and picked up a juice called Fuze Agave Cactus. You know how sometimes you buy a new album and you love it so much that you don’t want to even tell anyone about it? You just want to lock your door and stay in your bedroom all night, lying on the floor, reading the lyrics and liner notes, listening to the album over and over? It was exactly like that.

It didn’t taste like actual cactus much. (When I lived in Somerville there was a great mexican place down the street, and they put cactus in all their salads. It’s actually a really tasty vegetable.) It was non-carbonated, sweet but not thick. The slippery consistency kind of reminded me of Gatorade, but in a good way. It tasted almost lemon-limey with some orange highlights, but really I think we might be dealing with a new flavor phylum here: I don’t have the words for it.

I’m just really jazzed about it. Can’t wait to scoop up some more. I’m Joe Sincerity over here, hands to high heaven.

Soda Fight

Have you noticed that people who have a favorite root beer will fight and die defending its honor? I’m talking up-in-arms, straight buckwylin’, will fuck you UP if you disparage their root beer.

I intend no obloquy towards root beer lovers, so tenderly do I embrace the newness of living. But it kind of reminds me of a another group I feel no warmth towards: the people at restaurants who are all “I’ll have a Coke!” and then the waiter says “Is Pepsi okay?” and the people are all “Eww gross no way I’ll just have water.”

I don’t get their angle. I mean I understand having preferences, (as you know I’m quite happy to spend hours on end debating the relative merits of Dr Pepper vs Mr Pibb) but come on. Life is way too short. Why get all huffy about wanting Coke when there’s only Pepsi, or wanting Pepsi when there’s only Coke? How about cultivate an interest in a different flavor? There’s lots! And how about not taking your corporate allegiances so seriously?

It’s like a strange kind of proletarian elitism, where people feel embarrassed about the fact that they can’t tell a Merlot from a Shiraz, and have to take it out on the kid working the counter at Burritoville.

Besides which, it’s all academic: anyone with any culture knows that Royal Crown is the best cola. I mean duh.

Sanpellegrino Aranciata

Man alive. People have been all at me to drink some Aranciata. The kids seem to love it. I was wary, because I’ve been burned by the good folks at San Pellegrino before. I don’t drink coffee or coffee-flavored beverages, but I like to hang out at a coffee shop as much as the next total loser. And every time I go to a coffee shop, I look at the beverages available for purchase and think “Hmm, what would be tasty and refreshing?” And because I have the memory retention of my grandfather (who’s dead), I’m always all “Limonata! Boy that looks awesome!” And it’s totally not. It’s probably the least refreshing drink on the market today. It’s sour and syrupy and totally…bad. (What’s a synonym for bad? Ah yes: wickedly bad.)

So I’d just as soon not get fooled again, but if nothing else, I’m a completist. So: I try the Aranciata. First of all, talk about poncey, have you seen the bottle this stuff comes in? Ar-NANCY-ata, more like! Hotcha!

(Please take a moment to finish laughing. When you have collected yourself, you may continue on to the next paragraph.)

I cannot front. My initial reaction was: HFC [Holy Fucking Crap –ed.] this shit is good! No complaints in the taste department. It’s light and airy. It’s not too sweet. The orange is dazzling and does pirouettes on your tongue like a little ballerina for minutes afterwards. And it’s actually thirst-quenching, which is weird for a carbonated beverage. If you were stranded in the desert and totally parched, well, I guess you should probably try to get your hands on some water. But say you only had access to a cream soda and an Aranciata, definitely go with the Aranciata. It’s like a very rich man’s Orangina, but therein lies the problem. I purchased it from two different locations. Both times it cost $1.35 for 6.5 fl oz’s! That is ridiculously expensive. For that kind of cash outlay there better be a genie in the bottle, and she better love to give handjobs.

Sadly that was not the case. Luckily I was able to administer my own, albeit with some difficulty.

Snapple Lime Green Tea

So the other day you were all down on yourself for choking on your Snapple selection. You were considering the Lime Green Tea but at the last minute went with the safe bet instead, Kris’ Half and Half. And I said: “It’s fine, don’t beat yourself up. You didn’t miss anything.”

But then afterwards I was thinking about it like, “Dag, am I right?” Because I only tried it once, and I don’t remember liking it, but who knows. Wasn’t that the same morning that bratty kid from next door trampled my impatiens? I had to chase him with a rake. Afterwards I could not tell my blood from his. I mean who knows what external stuff was affecting my outlook that day.

So today I busted it on down to the Mobilmart (they actually have one of the best soda and juice selections on this side of town, and are to be commended) and bought another bottle. Oh man, I’m here to tell you: I screwed the pooch.

It is AWESOME. It is AOK and SFG [So Freaking Good -ed.]. This is a tea for a refined palate. It’s not overly sweet, which is a problem with a lot of the fruitier teas. The lime is subtle and you can feel that green tea just sliding down like silver. I only bought one, but if I’da bought three, I would have dranken all three in quick succession.

If you put a gun to my head, I would say: “It’s easily in the top 5 Snapple flavors.” And then if you cocked the hammer I’d be like: “TOP THREE! TOP THREE! OH MY GOD I’M TOO YOUNG TO DIE! SWEET MARY MCGILLICUDDY I CHOOSE LIFE!” and there’d be a big stain down the front of my trousers, but it would all be worth it. Yes it’s that good.

Holmes, absolve me and right this wrong. Try the Lime Green Tea. If you don’t I will chase you with the rake, god as my witness, you son of a bitch.