Saturday, February 28, 2009

nBn Carbonated Lemonade

It kind of looks like the credits from a spaghetti western.

In an effort to find some English transliteration of this drink name, I went to the website plastered all over the bottle. I thought that this was the website for the drink, but I actually think it's a Greek dating site. I'm not joking, either, there are pictures of young people all over the site arranged in little "my file" ways. The dead give away was that about half the pictures looked like they'd been pulled off professional model sites, a sure sign that someone is stacking the deck.

Dig the greek dance music, though. And be sure to notice that all of the pictures listed have 0 or 1 viewing, how sad.

I'm gonna call this stuff nBn, for lack of a better way to type it. I'm willing to bet I'm making an ass myself with this simple decision, and that "nBn" is hentai emoticon slang for "I like to be tentacle raped in a bathroom stall". Nonetheless, I'll let it stand so I can get on with this rather unremarkable review - just know I won't go in any bathrooms unarmed.

nBn is a carbonated lemonade. Carbines have a rich history in Greece, most notably being used by the rebels during WWII. How this ties into nBn is probably explained in all the Greekified text on the bottle, but I'm not willing to fuck with my keyboard settings so as to be able to type the stuff into a Google translator. Some mysteries deserve to be kept.

The flavor isn't bad. Again, the Loux drinks scarred me - I'm still trigger shy around Greek drinks even after the heavenly transubstantiation of Stala. It's not bad, but not good. It has the taste of lemon juice concentrate out of a metal can, as opposed to a plastic bottle. I think I'm imagining those terms more than speaking from experience, but they definitely feel right.

Not too sweet for a lemonade, not too sour. It's more like the sour took three steps to the right and became some other slightly challenging flavor, maybe dour instead of sour.

The nBn label design is straight out of 80s Thrasher magazine. A line of cut-out and irregularly reapplied bits of text happily gibber along in Greek, telling me only one thing: Greeks don't have a word for "virtual chat". Take a letter from the French, Greek people, and make up your own words for stuff - that way even your own people don't understand what you're talking about.

Blah blah blah virtual blah blah blah blah virtual chat blah blah...

I have to take a moment and describe my cat. He's sleeping in front of my keyboard while I type, having cat dreams. Violent twitches wrack his little cat body, then like a penitent pleading his case before the Holy Ghost, one little clawed paw reaches up and curls in the air, as if he was begging for forgiveness. Apparently he didn't get it, as the body tics are even more pronounced than before.

When he's like this I can do just about anything to him and he won't wake up. Pry open his eyes, stick a pencil in his mouth, whatever. It's hilarious.

So, nBn isn't bad at all, it's just not as good as Stala. The next time you are plundering the treasures of Greece, pick up a bottle and laugh in their faces when they try to "repatriate" it.

Look at the gunk in the threads of the bottle cap.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pepsi Throwback

This isn't your father's Mountain Dew, nor is it that punk kid's,
it's YOUR Mountain Dew. At least judging by the label.
And assuming your about my age.

I've been trained by enough horror movies to know that
a "throwback" is a genetic monstrosity sure to kill
almost everyone in the film.

Okay, so Pepsi is releasing "retro" versions of its soft drinks. These drinks will use sugar instead of corn syrup. It's first mentioned in a link here:

In the middle of April, PBV also will begin distributing Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, which features those brands formulated with sugar.

There's a very nice write-up on this at bevreview. Smart folks over there. Too bad my "no research" policy prevents me from actually reading their website. This was an okay bit of looking because:

1. It's about something that hasn't actually been released yet.


2. Enough people sent me the link that I felt I HAD to look.

Not much else I can add to this. One thing mentioned in the original Bevnet article is that Pepsi has some kind of consumer voting thing for the new Mountain Dew flavors. I'm hoping I can hire some African dictator to come up here and rig the polls so we can get rid of some of those disgusting cartoon flavors they falsely call "Mountain Dew [*]".

It astounds me that companies have people vote for flavors. I've always assumed that this was total crap, even as a kid. As an adult I had it confirmed when I worked on a cereal ad campaign for which the results were determined before the "kids go vote" commercials were even aired. That Bevnet runs an article which states that:

In CSD flavors, PBV will add Mountain Dew Voltage, which was the winning flavor in the brand’s Dewmocracy campaign.

This makes me half wonder if there might not be some legitimacy to the Dewmocracy thing. And if Coke isn't passing bribes to get the worst possible results.

That Pepsi logo looks kind of Mad Maxx, especially with
the dirt on the circle part. I hate the font on
the Mountain Dew "Throwback". I want to put the designer
inside a big inner tube and roll him into a river of lava.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stala Orange Drink

This mind bogglingly scary advert was on the outside of the place
I bought the Stala. It's like the Silent Hill franchise
went into pushing ice cream.

Ho hum, another dumb soda.

Those are all mediocre games there on the shelf behind me.
Except Empire Builder and British Rails, I guess.
Crayon train games rock.

Why, this is delightful!

Stala, Gaseous Refreshment

This stuff is so good, that I almost glugged it all down before scrambling to my computer to write a review. It's like the best orange juice in the world and the best soft drink in the world had sex, and not "and they had a baby" sex but "sex on video I downloaded from the internet and my Mom found it and took my internet away and made me see Dr Stan" sex. This stuff is marvelous, incredible, stupendous. I'm falling all over myself trying to think of how describe it. I'm doing other things to myself while I'm thinking of it, but Google will take away my advertising if I get too specific.

I don't think I can really improve on the above description, except to say that in my special case the stuff was also well seasoned with dread. I've had other Greek drinks, specifically from the Loux company, which tasted a lot like a "lou" or however British people spell their toilet abbreviation. Loux made me ill, I was expecting the worst when I drank Stala. So it wasn't just delicious, it was a reprieve.

I take a few more pulls and stare intently at the bottle, I'm feeling for some hidden foulness, some chemical taint deep in the back of the drink. I'd settle for a foul aftertaste, or maybe a loose human tooth rattling around in the bottle. But I ain't getting none of it. Stala is perfect.


The ingredients are: Pure orange juice, Spring water, Sugar, Aromatic flavorings, Citric acid, Benzoic sodium, Sorbic potassium.

My word, what a beautiful ingredients list. It shines like an angel from heaven bearing a pardon from the governor on a plate made of barbecued ribs.

What pushes me even further into the heights of unadulterated joy are two little words on the front of the bottle: "Gaseous Refreshment". It's like being on a date with a beautiful woman who puts in a Three Stooges DVD to "set the mood". A divine drink with a phrase best enjoyed as a verb right there on the label.

After experiencing this drink, I finally understand the movie Rocky I. I understand his pain and I weep.

While trying to get an interesting photo of the my cat
and the bottle together, I tilted the bottle too far back
and all the sticky backwash ran down my arm and onto the floor.
At least I assume that's why the floor under
my computer desk is sticky.

Edit: Since writing this review, I stopped by the Greek grocers and picked up some more Stala for a party. The Stala wasn't half as good on the second go-round, a real disappointment. That said, I'm pretty sure that this was a different batch of the stuff - the refrigerator case had been almost empty the last time I was there and was overflowing on my second visit. Sodas heavy in fruit juice are often a little erratic in flavor, that's the reason Coke and Pepsi are such chemical nightmares - they had to replace seasonal things like lemon juice with chemistry independent of the sun.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Day's Cola

Though you can't see it, there is a top to this bottle.
I swear it. I didn't just saw off the upper half and drink out of
the remainder like a giant plastic chalice with a very rough lip.

Day's Cola

I picked up a 2-liter of Day's Cola at a Russian bakery down off of Avenue Z. The bakery was amazing inside, almost everything there was lopsided and irregular, including the employees. There were beautiful cakes, big and small, in bright primary colors piled with icing, but all very imperfect. I loved it.

I'm not sure why Day's Cola was in this place. I think it was the only soft drink on sale, on a shelf with jam's and preserves. Day's is made in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Why oh why would it show up in a Russian bakery in Brooklyn? I can hardly imagine that this stuff is actually distributed here, as I've never even heard of it before. (edit: Their website says it IS distributed in NYC, and I have the distributors number so I can find some more of their products.) (edit edit: I lost the distributors number.)

So I took the bottle to a friend's home for a day of game playing. It didn't get cracked open till the very end, and it was surprisingly okay. It was refreshing to drink something from an unknown bottler and not have it be "champagne" flavored.

It's a weak cola, kind of like an RC cola cut fifty/fifty with regular Coke. Not very fizzy at all. Pretty unremarkable, but not bad. It lacks the harshness that I find in regular Coke, the burned taste is missing.

The bottle is nice, too. The entire name on the soda reads: Full Flavored Day's Cola, For the Best Since 1946. It also says "Beverages" on the label in a place that doesn't make any sense. Seriously, look at that. It's just a bunch of words that look like they belong on a bottle but don't make any sense.

No joke I can make can possibly improve on this.

The best part, though, is that next to "Large 2 Liter" it says "100% more than 1-Liter". That's hilarious, one of the best things I've ever read on a soda bottle. You can't tell me that the graphic design guy didn't put that on as a joke and the good natured boss decided to keep it. I like these people, I want to move to PA and be their friend.

There's a little confusion about the cap. Written in blue on the cap it says "CRO-PAC,. Worcester, Mass 01603 CT. LIC 251". I can only assume that this is information about the folks who made the cap, and a list of the route the cap took to get here. It started in Worcester, MA, was taken through Connecticut, and entered Long Island City. Ha.

I've been mulling this drink over for a while and decided to make it into a vanilla float. A few scoops of random ice cream and voila, a pretty bad float. The trouble is that the weak carbonation disappears in the vanilla foam. Normally a float takes harsh drinks like Coka and mellows them, this stuff just goes belly up. And then, horror of horrors...

Look at that, it's like separating blood plasma. It's absolutely vile looking, though it tastes fine. What the hell is happening with this stuff? It's like unwholesome magic, and has totally destroyed my interest in drinking Day's Cola.

Yum quickly churns to...

...yuck. It reminds me of something
I hid in my friend Brian's cabinet
in college.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cintron OrangeAde

Sympathetic magic says that drinking this
will make my penis long and orange.

If pursued by a police helicopter,
don't stop to drink crappy orangeade.

Cintron OrangeAde

I've always liked Arizona Iced Tea's Orange Drink. I can now pair that phrase with "I've always disliked Cintron OrangeAde".

This stuff sucks. It's thin and watery and leaves a mucusy slime in the back of my throat. It hardly has any taste, but what little orange taste there is in this stuff walks hand in hand with a cheap-metallic tang. It's awful, there's nothing there. And when I say "metallic-tang" I don't mean that in a good way, like on a sex robot.

Cintron OrangeAde is so unremarkable that I'm having trouble of thinking about thing to say about it. Watery, weak, metallic-tang... that about covers it. I think I need to break my rule and look this stuff up.

Well, first off I can tell you that Cintron isn't one of those funny European cars. And the OrangeAde isn't an epic Greek tale. What I can tell you is that, according to the Cintron site:

-OrangeAde is one of the four new innovative flavors of their beverage "family".

It makes me uncomfortable to think of these cans of corn water being part of a family. What sort of family sends their members out to be consumed en masse? Wouldn't "stable" be a better word to describe these flavors in relationship to the company? Like a stable of boxers?

-Cintron OrangeAde uses high fructose corn syrup.

That's almost a given in our soda world, but I only feel it necessary to say this as the company's "about" page has a seemingly fake article boasting that their energy drinks don't use corn syrup. "...ideal for an increasingly health conscious public, CINTRON uses no high fructose corn syrup."

Wait a minute, they say there that the COMPANY doesn't use high fructose corn syrup. It does. I'm drinking it right now. It's the second ingredient on the OrangeAde ingredient list. The company is lying on their about page.

-Cintron uses a series seemingly fake articles article in it's "about" page.

Not only is the article on the about page a lie, but it's a "fake". Two fake headlines top a page, and the article body begins "PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The CINTRON Beverage Group is proud to announce a breakthrough innovation..."

Listing the city and state makes it seem like it's a newspaper account. Boo.

-These deceitful lies are being told by a company founded by "Joe Roberts, Pastor of Holy Spirit Cathedral in Camden, NJ"

For shame. A man of the cloth being dragged into a deceitful mess.

-The "press" section has other apparently fake articles.

Four articles are listed, and only two list sources. The other two are, at best, press releases. Press releases aren't press releases if they are mixed in with legitimate articles, they are fake news items.

-Possibly Cintron wants me to drink and drive.

On their main page they show me a page of mixed drink recipes made with Cintron, this page is right above photos of a boat and a car. While I don't think they want me to drink and drive, they certainly aren't encouraging me to be cautious.

-Cintron approves of gas guzzling SUVs.

And they use a HUMVEE as a mobile billboard. While this is just my personal beef, I think it's pretty awful.

Cranky about all this, I filled out the customer contact form on their website, asking about the High Fructose Corn syrup thing and about the legitimacy of some of their articles. After a week and no response, I called their contact number. No phone tree, no wait, a pleasant woman answered the phone.

I asked about the discrepancy between the website and the stuff they sold, she told me that the website hadn't been updated since they started selling the OrangeAde drinks. Well, they ADVERTISE the drinks on the website, so clearly that ain't logical or true. She told me that the website would be updated in a month, after they had some new pictures to put up.

I asked how long they'd been selling the OrangeAde and she told me about nine months. The can has a copyright date of 2007, for what that's worth, which indicates to me that they've been selling it for over a year.

About a week later I sent the below email, fabricating a "concerned and loyal customer" scenario to see how they would react.


Hey there,

I've always been a fan of your drinks and appreciate how they don't have corn syrup in them. I ordered a case of the OrangeAde from the local wholesaler, when it arrived I drank some and realized it had corn syrup.

Your website specifically states that NONE of your drinks have corn syrup. I called your 267 number and inquired, the woman told me that she was "sorry" and that the corn syrup drinks have been on sale for nine months. That's a LIE on your website, a lie that cost me money because now I am stuck with a tremendous amount of corn syrup that I'm going to have to pour down the sink.

I'm really disappointed, I thought your company was small and well run and CARING.


I sent the above email in December, it's now February and no response. In December they had told me they were updating the site in about a month, which is also untrue.

To wind up I'll say that I think this stuff tastes like total shit, and they tell lies about it on their website. Boo.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fentiman's Curiosity Cola

Molotov cocktail worthy.

Fentiman's Curiosity Cola

According to the neighbors, I was running through the halls without a shirt on, screaming "I want me some sugar". I banged on doors and reached up an older resident's blouse. It took two tazings to bring me down. All that after one sip of Fentiman's Curiosity Cola.

I don't drink grown-up drinks, no alcohol or coffee for me. I suspect that's why I reacted so negatively to Curiosity Cola, a drink even harder than the previous Fentiman's I tried. This stuff tastes like cola flavored cough syrup. No, actually it doesn't. It tastes like I'm at a cheap shit party where someone tried to turn my store-brand imitation King Kola into a mickey by adding a swill of cheap liquor to it.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite exchanges from a W.C. Fields movie:

Nervous Bank Inspector: (About to drink liquor in a sleazy bar) Do you mind if we pull the shades?
W.C. Fields: You can pull anything, this is a regular joint.

That's from The Bank Dick.

Fentiman's looks awesome. Cool-ass bottle, old tymey label but not to the point of cheesiness. Even has a neat looking dog on the neck ring. "Botanically Brewed" in raised letters on the shoulder of the bottle, so the blind know what they are getting into. A... oh, wait a minute. The back label says "Our unique brewing process leaves a sediment - to unlock the natural taste... UP END BEFORE POURING."

That last bit is in all caps, bold, AND underlined. I can't underline things in this blog, so use your imagination.

So I failed to follow instructions, which means I have to give it another taste. Fuck. All right you Fentiman jerks, put shit like that on the cap where we have to see it. I put my thumb over the bottle opening, "up end" it, take a taste, yuck. It tastes exactly the fucking same except that it's about 5% less carbonated than before. Go to hell Fentiman's. This is a disgusting beverage with all the charm of a bright blue energy drink.

Actually, that's what this stuff tastes like. A cola energy drink. A quick read of the ingredients confirms that: guarana extract and some other fake nature sounding crap are listed. So is "Cola Flavour 9594". I've never seen someone list the flavour number. Is that like a Sleep Number from those mattress commercials? Can I please turn my number down to 0000?

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do

Than sit around and fuck my head
Hang out with the living dead

Drink Fentiman's Curiousity Cola
I would rather have ebola

I don't even think about it

Cause it's something that tastes like shit

I've got the straight edge

Bad dog, bad.*

*This is actually a photo from the Ginger Soda bottle.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

San Pellegrino Limonata

Italian soft drinks for sale: Only dropped once.

Right as I drank, I got ninja-starred in the forehead.
The horror.

San Pellegrino Limonata

I had this stuff while over at my pal Dino's for dinner. I think Dino made a sort of beef soup stuff, I forget the classy name for it. Beef bourgnine? Mourgnine? It's something pretty common and I feel like an ass for not remembering. Margarine? Doesn't matter as it was good and not something I'd ever seen anyone make from scratch.

He gave me a "San Pellegrino Limonata" to drink, he'd had a six-pack delivered along with a bunch of stuff from Fresh Direct I think. Or at least from a grocery. I remember because it was a big to-do about the delivery stuff as the van had a break down. Exciting times.

The limonata was classy looking. It had a tear off tin foil top, I hated the waste of it but couldn't help but admit that it's a good idea. Or at least it would be a good idea if this were the sort of soda that was sold out-of-date in discount delis, the sort of drinks that are always covered in dirt and foulness and sticky. This is an Eye-tahlian fancy drink, it'll never see the broken end of the freezer section. The foil, I think, is overkill, just there as a gimmick.

All this classy is reinforced by the tiny little drinkin' hole, more of a sipping hole compared to what I'm accustomed to. The Italians must be half camel.

I like most things that are lemon flavored, but it's an easy thing to mess up. I'd half expected to be poisoned after my first San Pellegrino drink, but was instead pleasantly surprised. Very lemon juicy, not too sweet, but still good. I like ass loads of sugar in my lemonade but was happy with this.

It burps up well, and was lemony enough to make me phlegm up but not so much as to make me miserable.

Stroganoff. That's what Dino made, beef stroganoff.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda

That there's some old New York there for you.

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda

It'd been a long time since I had Cel-Ray soda. I used to buy the stuff when I first came to NYC, I sort of remember liking it. I also remember it being a lot more common.

The taste has little to do with celery, more like a mix of orange and lemon juice with a slightly burned taste. Not the horrible corn syrup burn, but an honest burned taste. Almost smokey. Sadly, smokey isn't a taste that is that great in a soda.

Maybe, just maybe, there is a celery taste in there. It's more of a celery seed taste, a guerilla taste that runs in and out of detectability, causing mischief and possibly unhappiness. The ingredients list claims there are extract of celery seeds in the hills, and I think I believe 'em.

Mulling it over, I think it tastes like what we called a "suicide" when I was growing up. You'd mix together all the stuff at the fountain, and then drink it. I think I enjoyed this, but maybe I was just caving to peer pressure. I love to cave to peer pressure, it means my peers are paying attention to me.

Cel-Ray burps up like a mild orange soda.

This sad thing was on the counter at the Juniors
where I bought the soda.
I feel like it's a goodbye note from a girlfriend.

I am writing this article at seven AM in Grand Central, waiting for a train. Every time I mistype "soda" my iPhone corrects it to "dog" or "dogs". What does my iPhone know that I don't? Lots of things, like why it such a shitty piece of equipment.

But as a I write, I find myself growing more introspective. I am willing to admit that I cringe a little more at each taste. With this growing snowball of dislike I have also come to realize the secret flavor analog to Cel-Ray soda: Waffle Crisp cereal. There is totally a maple waffle flavor in Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, and nobody likes drinking maple syrup. Not even me. Wait, Captain K'nuckles and Flapjack do, but they're cartoon characters and don't count for as much as real people.

Waffle Crisp + orange juice + celery seeds = Cel-Ray.

Part of me wonders if the can needed a good mix-up before I drank it, or if the flavor is just confusing and broad.

Follow up: I went out an bought some Waffle Crisp. It is totally and completely the same taste, but better because it's not a carbonated drink. And a little not better because it sandpapers off the roof of your mouth..

I suppose Waffle Crisp actually tastes like Cel-Ray,
considereing which came first...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Original Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea

The Original Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea

Straight people don't know, what your about

They put you down and shut you out

You give to me a new belief

And soon the world will love you, Sweet Leaf

So I usually stop at a particular grocery store in Brooklyn en route to my monthly Cthulhu game. I buy some genoa salami and cheese, or some fresh pineapple rings, and usually a box of Caffeine Free Coca Cola. The salami and cheese thing is a horrible habit I picked up from a friend who was on Adkins, being that I'm not on Adkin's I just get fat on it instead of turning greasy and wasting away.

It's a good life, though. I had to stop going to the deli for lunch meat because the meat cutters have acted like jack asses in the past and inspired me to a level of retaliatory nastiness that makes me nervous about even entering the store.

The worst part of this regular grocery visit, though, was the recurring frustration of the Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea. The idiot store people put the precious stuff in a refrigerator on the far end of the pay counter, so you don't see the stuff till AFTER you've paid and walked all the way to the exit. For about a year I would shop, pay, take three steps and slap my forehead as I saw the highly desirable bottle with the picture of the little old woman on it.

Till one day. One glorious day, a great day, I notice the stuff before I'm done paying. I put all my crap down on the counter, and fought my way over to the refrigerated cabinet and extracted a single bottle. Victory!

I gloated over my success throughout the entire Call of Cthulhu game session. The bottle sat in my bag, I was saving it for a good day when I could concentrate on it. I also didn't want a big dose of caffeine that particular evening. Good things can wait, right? I got home and put the bottle in the refrigerator, only to have disaster strike in the form of a thirsty and vengeful wife.

A while ago my wife started innocently drinking out of my soda stash as a way of forcing me to consume the sodas faster, and therefore clear out an overcrowded refrigerator shelf. I say innocently, but this was actually a decision arrived at through her native cunning. I'd come home and see another rare soda, perhaps one hand crafted from raw air by Phillipino monks living in Tibet, fallen victim to my wife. The bottle placed on top of the recycling can, or left casually on a table, sure to attract my attention. To protect against these encroachments I "fell back" into a box in my room, hoarding the bottles and cans under a table. Sure, the sodas won't keep as well, but at least they'll stick around long enough to upset me with their horrible taste.

I considered throwing a camouflage tarp over the crates, but I think my wife is happy with simply having driven me out of the refrigerator. Her victory conditions were met.

A few days ago my wife and I were waiting for a bus in Brooklyn. I was telling her about this blog entry, and how she had dashed my long efforts to nab a bottle of Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea. My dearly beloved told me that this drink was not nearly so rare as I thought, and that it could be found in any deli in NYC. I pointed across the street from the bus stop to a convenient deli. She ran in and returned empty handed. Her original statement was amended to "any deli in Manhattan". After our ride we stopped in at a health food store she thought would certainly have the stuff, the joke was on her because it not only didn't have Sweet Leaf anything, but I walked out with five new bottles random fancy sodas. Ha!

On the way out on the bus, I'd spotted a Polish market at Fifth Ave and 18th Street. I ran all the way there, to beat the bus, and had a quick dash through looking for Eastern European sodas. None were to be found, but I did pick up a nice selection of American fancy sodas and an RC - RC is rare in NYC. This place easily had the best soda selection I've seen in NYC. And - lo and behold - there was a row of Sweet Leaf teas. I didn't pick one up because, after all, they are as common as dirt on Manhattan.

So Sweet Leaf, I didn't get a chance to know you. But maybe later. Maybe.