Friday, July 29, 2011

Have Another Drink!

After waxing nostalgic last week... alright, I told stories of a long-forgotten era like an old man, about refreshing beverages. But since that time, my memory banks have been overflowing with all the drinks of yesterday and today that have graced my refrigerator and my cupboards in days gone by.

In the cupboard was that jar of Tang. You remember, it was what the astronauts drank! Well, eventually the astronauts drank it. At first the stuff mostly sat on grocery shelves until it got packed into John Glenn's space capsule. I'm not sure how Glenn mixed the little freeze-dried orange granules with water to make an imitation orange juice drink, but apparently he did. Then anyone in the 1960s who wanted to be hip or groovy or whatever we were back then would drink Tang for breakfast. Fewer people remember Tang's less-popular family member -- grape flavored Tang. To be honest, I like the grape hundreds of times better than the orange. And just to reveal how odd I was, my favorite way to drink Tang was not ice cold, but hot. Dad could drink his hot coffee while I would drink hot grape Tang. And, no, I didn't take cream or sugar.

I did drink a lot of soft drinks when I was young, and being a chubby, young boy, I was required to drink “diet” soft drinks. My drink of choice, because it was a lot cheaper, was Diet Rite Cola. Diet Rite was the no-calorie version of RC Cola. We bought them in the 8-pack of 16 ounce returnable bottles. That was back when bottle recycling was enforced with a nickel or dime deposit for each bottle. If you paid a nickel a bottle, or 40 cents a pack, the bottles usually made it back for recycling (which may have just been running them through a car wash and refilling them, I really don't remember.) But anyway, Diet Rite is still around as Diet Rite Pure Zero and it comes in flavors as appetizing as Green Apple Splatter, which sounds more like a summertime apple-throwing fight at the orchard than a refreshing beverage.

The other popular diet drink was Tab (or TaB as it appeared on the can). Tab was Coca-Cola's answer to Diet Rite, and eventually when the FDA decided which artificial sweeteners wouldn't kill you as quickly, Tab gave way to Diet Coke. Tab's ugly cousin was Fresca, but aside from a line in the movie “Caddyshack” when Ted Knight offers the kid a Fresca, I really can't remember anything about the stuff. I think it was supposed to be lemon-lime or something. Plenty of lemon-lime all over the market then, too, with 7-Up and Sprite and Mountain Dew. I wonder who was the person who first mixed the lemon and the lime? Probably some Polynesian who never got credit, I'm guessing.

The obscure soft drink I used to love in the early 80s was called Rondo. It was a lemony-limey-citrusy soda too, but it didn't have as much carbonation. That meant you could drink it faster, and presumably, burp less. The commercials were of a guy grass-skiing, which is pretty much what you think it is -- a guy skiing with no snow and no water, just a hill with long grass. My friends and I drank a few hundred gallons of this in college before it disappeared. Come to think of it, I haven't seen anyone grass skiing lately either.

When I think about all the beverages over the years, my head starts to spin. I drank Crystal Pepsi. Remember that clear Pepsi that no one drank because it tasted like Pepsi but didn't look right? I also tried the Pepsi Blue, but it reminded me too much of Ty-D-Bol. I've drank my Ovaltine and my Quik, but always opted for liquid chocolate for my milk whenever possible. There has been Hi-C and “How 'bout a nice Hawaiian Punch,” and about three ka-jillion other drinks. But the king of them all was the worst of them all. Jolt Cola was said to have “all the sugar and twice the caffeine,” so this morning radio DJ who couldn't stand waking up in the morning became quickly dependent upon his morning bottle of Jolt.

Now, certainly I could have been drinking water all this time instead of these artificially-made chemical concoctions, but what kind of memories would I have then?

No comments: