- Ralph (while looking through his closet): "What would you wear if you could possibly meet Neil Finn tonight?"
- Me: "Boobs."
The back of a pack of Velcro rollers should say: ‘Now you can quickly and easily scalp yourself in the comfort of your own home!’
All Juiced Up
My little brother spent the weekend with Ralph and I last week, and he has some particular eating habits. He only likes to eat and drink certain things and one of those things is Tang. Do you remember Tang, the orange powdered drink mix that astronauts supposedly drink?
I just started to Google whether or not astronauts really drank Tang and these are the most common questions that people typed into Google about astronauts:
…Why wouldn’t astronauts get paid?
And why would they age slower? These questions make me seriously fear the state of the public school system. Where do you think they are going? It’s a man-made spaceship, not a TARDIS.
As it turns out, Tang was not developed by NASA, but the astronauts did drink it. They do not drink it any more because according to Buzz Aldrin: “Tang sucks.” I agree with him, which is why I didn’t have any at my house when my little brother came to visit. My mom conveniently brought a mason jar full of the stuff when she dropped him off.
“Do not let him drink all of this,” she said, handing me the jar as she walked out the door.
Once she left, Ralph stared at the neon liquid longingly. He sniffed it, “Man—Tang sucks.”
“I know,” I said. “We drank it all the time as kids, though. We loved it. I don’t know why.”
“You know what I miss?” said Ralph.
“Orange Drink. You know the cartons that you could get at school?”
“Yeah—I remember that,” I said.
When Ralph and I were in school, at lunch we were offered 16 oz cartons of three things: Guers Lemonade, Guers Orange Drink, and Guers Iced Tea. Guers is a local Pennsylvania company, so most of you have probably never heard of it, but don’t worry. It’s easy to describe because it’s basically sugar water, with one dyed yellow, one dyed orange and one dyed brown. This wasn’t something that we got on a special occasion at my school. It was something that we bought every day. And worst of all, the iced tea had caffeine in it. Imagine how intense your afternoon gym class is when all of your classmates are in the prime of their youth and cracked out on caffeine and 50 grams of sugar. You basically have to have the dodge balls surgically removed from your body.
I’m sure that I’m going to get a lot of hate mail from people who love Guers drinks. Send it to email@example.com. We’ll reminisce.
I doubt that you can even get Guers drinks in school anymore. There has been a huge overhaul of drinks in the public school system. With all of the soda machines being replaced by low sugar juices and water, I bet it’s really hard for a kid to get a buzz on these days. I’m not saying that they should be able to get red bull, but how are you supposed to play hours of “Old MacDonald” on the recorder without Fruitopia surging through your veins? It’s straight up impossible.
I grew up in the 90s, when people did not give a flying dodge ball whether or not drinks were healthy for kids. In fact, in the 90s drinks for children may have been at their most chemically potent. And we drank the stuff day after day. It’s probably why I have bad vision and a gentle case of scoliosis now.
It started at home. This is going to make me feel really old, but I remember when my mom bought juice in a can. Why was it in a can? What major war were we heading for in the 90s? Was it meant to be stockpiled so that if invaders came into your home you could open a can, chug it, and get revved up enough to karate chop their necks?
There was actually a special tool to open these juice cans. It punched a little triangle shape into the corner so you could pour the juice right into a glass.
“I HATED those cans,” said Ralph, looking over my shoulder just now. “They took FOREVER to pour.”
“Did your mom punch a hole in each side?”
“That’s why—you were supposed to put a hole in the other side so that the air pushed it out faster.”
“…I’m really upset about my wasted youth right now. All of that time spent waiting around for juice.” He walked off shaking his head.
My mom tried to keep us away from drinks that would rot our teeth and pickle our livers, but they were just so prevalent in the 90s that it was impossible to keep up policing kids forever. I’ll never forget that the first time I went to my new elementary school and I discovered that you could have chocolate milk every day. We never had chocolate milk at my house. It was a rare luxury made on occasion with a light squirt of Hershey’s syrup in skim milk. But THIS chocolate milk in the little carton at school with its full fat bone builder milk and it’s super chocolately taste—this was first grade version of a perfect dry martini.
It wasn’t long until I was hoarding chocolate milk cartons. I noticed that some of the kids took cartons of chocolate milk and never drank it. What a bunch of dopes. So I would go around and say, “Do you want your milk? Can I have it?” As a side note, no one wants to be friends with the girl who doesn’t speak all day long and when she finally does it’s to stockpile milk. I didn’t care. This was the best drink I ever had in my entire life and there was no milk rule in the school handbook.
If I got extra chocolate milks, I would take them home, put them in my freezer and eat them with a spoon when they were half frozen. It’s a weird habit to have developed, but to this day I will sometimes take a bowl of ice cream and pour milk on it like it’s cereal to get that same icy/melted consistency. I just want to take a moment to remind you that I am married. Someone married me. If I can do it, anyone can.
The funny thing is that now that I reflect on this I’m thinking about how I probably took the milk at lunch, but then what did I do with it for the three hours before I got home? I probably let it get warm in my locker until I took it home and put it in the freezer. It’s a miracle that I didn’t die.
It didn’t take long for my mom to figure out that I was drinking the sugar and fat equivalent of a huge milkshake every day.
“Where are these coming from?” she said, pointing to three chocolate milks in the freezer. It had been a good day of milk hunting.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? So it’s ok if I throw them out then, right?”
My eyes grew large and watered, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” I screamed like she threatened to take a finger for my insolence.
“Ok. Let’s try this again. Where are you getting all of this milk from?”
“Honey, these are bad for you. You can’t get these any more, okay?”
The days that followed were dark, milk weaning days. I was dry for a while, and then one day my school celebrated the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Everyone had to bring in chocolate recipes and someone brought in a recipe to make fudge pops at home. I looked at the ingredient list like Walter White about to make meth.
“This could taste like frozen chocolate milk cartons,” I thought, staring at it.
I went home and immediately made a batch. It did, in fact, taste like my frozen chocolate milk. Here is the weird thing, though. I have no idea how this got passed out to all of the kids in my class, but—the recipe called for two raw eggs. Two raw eggs. In fudge pops.
They were delicious, though, and by the end of the week I’d eaten a dozen raw eggs.
"I’m fly like Gaston," I thought, as I cracked them in the bowl manically wired on sugar. (It was the 90s. We were fly. Talk to the hand if you rolled your eyes at that.)
I made the pops explaining to my mom that it was a school project. In the most thin definition, it was. But by the time she went to reach for the eggs and there were none, she looked at me suspiciously as I stirred a spoon in a huge bowl of chocolate gloop.
“Can I see that recipe?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, eye balling her suspiciously like I was the head of Coke and she was a Pepsi rep.
“Give it me.”
I reluctantly handed it over. She scanned it and her perfectly plucked eyebrows raised in that way that let me know I was fucked.
“THERE ARE TWO RAW EGGS IN THIS.”
“Yep,” I said, licking the spoon.
“SISSY. YOU CANNOT HAVE RAW EGGS.”
“Because you’re not Rocky. You’re a little girl.”
“Rocky the Squirrel eats raw eggs?”
“Not Bullwinkle. The movie with—never mind. You are not allowed to make these again. Do you understand? These can make you very, very sick.”
She took the recipe and threw it away.
I stared up at her, horrified, clutching my bowl of unfrozen death pops.
For two weeks I was really ticked at my mom for being so intent on saving my life. But I moved on, because the 90s was to sugary drinks what the 80s was to recreational coke. Everyone had it and everyone did it.
I was a big fan of Squeeze It because they were supposedly 100% juice, so it was a little easier to get my mom to buy them. Just because they were 100% juice didn’t mean that they didn’t also have neon watermelon chemicals and a whiff of formaldehyde added. One time I drank one that was left out in the sun and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching dust float in the air like it was cartoons.
I love that one of these is flavored “punch.” Not fruit punch…just punch. That was the 90s for you. Everything was PUNCH! RAW! SLAM! CHILL! SCREAM! I’m surprised we didn’t all have anxiety disorders. If late 20 somethings are a little jumpy sometimes it’s just PTSD from 90s commercials.
Remember orbitz? Part beverage, part lava lamp?
Every house had Kool-Aid packets. Now I talk to mothers who only let their children have water or organic milk. When I was a kid, there was a period of my life when everything I drank was a color that was not found in nature. Most of the drinks looked like a prop in a sci-fi movie where the main character drinks a potion that turns him into a mutant.
We begged mom regularly for Hi-C and Sunny-D. I still remember the taste of Sunny-D. It left this little tingle on the back of your throat that indicated it was working. It somehow both hydrated and dehydrated you at the same time. It was amazing.
Then there was the all mighty, teeth rotting Surge.
I’m shocked that every 20 something today doesn’t have brittle bird bones that snap when they sneeze due to Surge consumption. The drink was basically condensed Mountain Dew that advertised that it was “loaded with carbos.” “Carbos” as in, carbohydrates. Can you imagine that flying today? We live in a time now when ordering a burger with no bun is totally acceptable. Do you think people would actually want to drink their carbohydrates in a citrus flavor?? It was discontinued in 2002, but you can actually buy a bottle of Surge on ebay. Warning: may cause blindness.
Free shipping, though.
All of this reminiscing about sugary beverages has made me thirsty. Because I’m a grown up I think I’ll go have a perfectly acceptable, adult style drink now.
Like a margarita….
Ahh, yes. It’s nice to be an adult.
I just watched Captain America 2, and at one point Captain America had a knife in his hands and he literally threw it aside. Would it be such a big deal to have another weapon besides the shield? People who get hit with the shield don’t even die. They’re just stunned for a while. Couldn’t he do the same amount of damage even quicker with like, a taser?