EGB - "Elephant Ginger Beer"
As far as I understand it, ginger originated in India. Here is a historical account from the Bagha Disaata Bahir:
...and for seven days did Baahir walk
along the dusty road towards the sea,
until he did come upon a large and ferocious head
buried partially in the roadbed.
"Oh grotesque head, how did you come to be
buried in this road that passes by the sea?
The head was that of a man, with
a fearsome brow and tremendous teeth
upon it's brow it bore a shining trapezohedron
knitted upon a band of gold flecked iron.
It's hair was snakes and the nose
was that of the small bears found in the hills
near Muldorre beyond the mountains.
When the head opened it's mouth to answer
Baahir was as quick as a snake -
he cut out the tongue which was rough
and dry like an undesirable root vegetable.
"Ha ha fearsome head, I have cut out
your tongue" crowed Baahir.
"And I don't even want it, observe as
I bury it here in the roadbed beside you.
Now watch as I shame you further."
Baahir squatted over the head
lying in the roadbed
and began bobbing up and down.
From the locked camera view of the head
on the roadbed
it was quite degrading.
Thus was ginger brought onto the Earth.
Anyways, that tongue grew into the first ginger plant. It was promptly trampled by a passing ox cart because it had been planted in a roadbed but by that point everyone thought it was such a swell idea that Jesus made a new one and put it some place else and God made Moses get it and put it on the Arc because saltwater would ruin the plant and Jesus didn't want to have to go and evolve a new one again. It's a lot of work and Jesus just likes hanging around.
The moral of this story is that India loves ginger and wants to honor it as one of its most famous sons. Which is why I initially theorized that EGB - Elephant Ginger Beer - was created by Pakistan for Indian markets.
I found this bottle of EGB at one of those Indian groceries on the middle East side, in the 20s and 30s. The NYC indy comic thing was held at the armory there, and I'd loaded up on enough shit for my wife to kill me twice over. Barely able to move under the combined malefactions of a fortune in comic books and my awkward comic-girl-admiring erection, it truly shows my dedication to both of your readers that I stopped to snoop in an Indian market. After all, my wife couldn't kill me three times so more soda didn't really matter.
Truth be known, I'd already picked these places over pretty well. I was shocked to find three or four drinks previously unknown to the Western hemisphere - one of them being EGB. I bought 'em up and lugged all the crap home.
When I finally got around to trying the EGB I was shocked. SHOCKED I say. India, the first birthplace of ginger, had made an utterly unremarkable ginger drink. It had the most generic taste of any ginger beer or ale I've ever tasted. I'm thinking I would be unable to distinguish it from Tommy's in a blind taste test.
Now let's be clear: This crap was bottled in Tekkawatte, Biyagama on the island of Sri Lanka. This shit came from the OTHER SIDE OF THE FUCKING WORLD and pretty clearly uses "Generic Ginger flavoring no 3" as it's main ingredient. AND I PAID $5 for it! I think it's the most expensive drink I've ever bought over the counter, the most expensive period if you don't count shipping. And to think that other assholes thought this crap worth sending over here.
A quick aside: I have a theory on how most foreign grocery items wind up in the US. I believe that every country has its own version of the dollar stores that are ruining our cities. Poland, India, Canada, all of 'em. And when these dollar stores go out of business they have a fifty cent sale, and then when the doors actually close for good they are opened one more time and all the crap that no one would buy for fifty cents and no store employee would steal and no store owner would take home to store in his basement, all that remaining junk is put into a shipping container and sent to the United States to be sold in an ethnic market or whatever you'd call it. Because, seriously folks, why the fuck would anyone want a Polish made Brillo pad? Is grandma really so attached to that crap that she needs her Korean rubber bands enough that someone needs to import them? No. It's totally random crap. But anyways...
In the bottom middle of that there picture is a
bit of what us literary types call "foreshadowing",
just like on Lost.
India! You are magic! You are supposed to be bizarre and wonderful and a little uncomfortable to visit! How can you FUCK UP GINGER BEER!... Oh, wait, I see why, because it's bottled under the authority of Coca fucking Cola.
Coke, like religion, ruins everything.
I'm going to copy out the label for you completists out there:
Ginger Beer Soda Soft Drink
Savings Per 100ml (3.5oz)
Energy 42 kcal
Containts: Carbonated Water, Sugar, Permited Flavours, Colours (110, 102, 122, 150d), Acidulant (330) & Preservative (2111)
Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Ltd
Under the authority of
The Coca-Cola Company
GINGEER BEER AND THE DYNAMIC RIBBON
DIVICE ARE TRADEMARKS OF THE COCA-COLA
There. My favorite bit is "Containts". It's a perfect amalgam of "Contents" and "Contains".
So here's what we need to do to wrap this up: Imagine me drinking some of the bottle, looking disgusted, a freeze frame and Animal House style text pops up saying
"Tim went on to get both diabetes AND pancreatic cancer from writing this soda blog".
Then we zoom into the bottle and the text reads
"The EGB bottle was left on a file cabinet corner, unfinished, for two weeks. At that point a cat knocked it off the cabinet and onto the floor, making a sticky mess all around Tim's desk. It looked liked he'd had one boss internet pornography session you bet. He walked in and got all pissed off and had to clean it up but did a bad job and still sometimes finds little bits of sticky here and there and put the bottle on the big table in the area that passes for a living room in his tiny apartment and the bottle sat there for like another three weeks before Tim realized that his wife hadn't yelled at his for leaving it there for so long which really WAS her way of yelling at him for leaving it there so he finally decided to write up the review. The bottle will eventually be emptied down the sink and recycled and Tim will wonder if the empty bottle itself should be sold on eBay but, man, that's a lot of work and probably no one would want it anyways."
This review is dedicated to the blog poster who posts actual comments on the blogs but still advertises Viagra in his little name tag thing. This is for you buddy.