Dr. Pepper Dark Berry Flavor; or Liquid Masochism

I haven’t posted anything in a long time. At least April. Maybe May.

Anyway. I could have written about a lot of things such as my acceptance of “Toy Story 4″‘s existence, why I think “Aesop’s Fables” is chock full of bad advice or my surprising adoration of Billie Eillish’s debut album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”, but instead I decided to write about Dr. Pepper: Dark Berry.

I love soda. It works with meals, with dessert, with alcohol, with movies, with video games, and even as a surprising caffeine replacement for coffee. It keeps dentists employed and Americans fat. You shouldn’t drink a lot of it—and I don’t—but once in a while it’s nice to open that convenience store refrigerator and pull one out and listen to the bottles behind it fall forward like the front line of an army after the first volley.

At Boston Calling, the Diet Coke booth was handing out free samples of all its different flavors—basically bottling the options available in a Coke Freestyle machine. I was sick of just chugging gallons of water from my leaking reusable water bottle so I took a few shots of Diet Coke. I normally hate Diet Coke—all diet soda tastes like the missing link between soda and bug spray—but because of the bland water that had been keeping me alive in the heat it tasted great; it was a great reprieve from the dullness kinda like a sex scene in a foreign indie movie.

I can’t name the flavors I had. I think I might have had blueberry and lime but I’m not sure. The taste of Diet Coke was too strong.

Normally I ignore all the new flavors for soda. They often sound disgusting like the liquid version of the meal you make when you come home after a night out and forgot to go to the grocery store. It looks like I’m eating a corn chip sandwich with hot sauce and sour cherry candies.

Like besides just plain old curiosity, who would actually want to drink ginger ale mixed with lemonade? Yes, that exists and Canada Dry, probably my favorite ginger ale, makes it!

Today, while in line at the grocery store, I saw a Dr. Pepper with a new label. It was blueprint blue and old construction cone orange with something scrawled on it advertising the latest Marvel film: Spider-Man: Go Home, You’re Drunk. Or something like that.

I bought it. My curiosity, which only fails me 80% of the time, goaded me on. BUT I also had to try it. Dr. Pepper is my favorite soda. My girlfriend literally got me a six pack of it for our six month anniversary.

I sat down to dinner and poured myself half a glass of this kid’s plastic jewelry bluish or maybe purplish soda. I took a sip and, well, it um…OKAY IT TASTED LIKE A CARBONATED, MELTED BLUE ICEE. My brother said cheers and I had to leave the table and grab a glass of water. I couldn’t clink a glass full of this s***.

I have spent the last hour wondering why the corporate overlords would decide to hasten teeth decay with something so gross.

I came to two possible conclusions.

First, soda companies are trying to ride the spiked seltzer blitz.

Just like bubble gum cigarettes or flavored cigarettes or the psychologically evil modern Oreo wafter looking installment, there always seems to be a kid version of age-restricted or “adult” item.

Look at how similar the cans look and notice the flavors.

This theory seemed ground breaking until I realized something: most soda cans look similar to alcohol cans and Diet Coke has always had a silver can.

But as that theory went into the trash bin, I saw a new theory in the rebuttal: soda’s relationship with alcohol.

Okay so most of us know that most sodas started as tonics of some sort and that Coca-Cola had cocaine in it (and has one of the greatest Wikipedia subheadings), but did you know that Mountain Dew started out as a mixer for whisky?

As this wonderful article from Smithsonian Magazine puts it:

“The caffeinated, florescent-yellow soda’s name does make sense, when you consider its origin story: Brothers Barney and Ally Hartman began bottling a lemon-lime soda as a whiskey chaser in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1932, writes Doug Mason for Knoxnews. To play up the intended use of the drink, they dubbed their drink, ‘Mountain Dew.'”

And what about the use of soda as mixers during prohibition? Or the overwhelming about of drinks you can order at a bar that have soda in some form in them? Whisky Ginger, Long Island Iced Tea, Cuba Libre, and all the other cool drinks that can be found here. Or—okay I’ll stop with the hyperlinks…Just Kidding. Check this history of soda out too.

So I decided instead of dumping this seltzer water and a pound of sugar and food dye down the drain (and probably corroding the pipes with it) I’d commit some masochism and use it as a mixer.

(Okay it’s not technically masochism because I’m not receiving any pleasure from it but I’ve actually read Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and dopey Severin doesn’t get much pleasure from being enslaved. And neither does the reader for that matter. Only interesting thing I got from that book was an awkward conversation about erotica with an optometrist’s assistant because Yes, I did decide that a 19th century novel about a woman that enslaves a man because he wants her to would be a great thing to read in an eye doctor’s waiting room.)

Okay enough rambling. Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. Le cose che faccio per scrivere. Non conosco l’italiano, ma siamo onesti che tu abbia messo tutto questo anche in un traduttore.

Mixer 1: Bacardi Superior Carta Blanca

It tastes like cherry—yes, not berry, cherry—cough syrup. I have no idea how that is possible but let’s remember this soda shouldn’t even exist in the first place.

I dumped it after one sip.

Mixer 2: Ketel One Vodka

Not bad. Tastes a bit like spiked seltzer. I mean, not good spiked seltzer but more like the spiked seltzer your aunt found in the back of Costco under a pile of those giant teddy bears. I actually finished it.

Mixer 3: Meyer’s Rum: Original Dark

Only evokes the s***iness of dark rum more. Why do we drink so much booze that tastes expired? Like we’d all be Advil addicts if we didn’t have mixers. I forced a second sip into my mouth after pouring in more of the Dr. Pepper and then dumped it down the drain.

Mixer 4: Jose Cuervo Especial: Blue Agave

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend. Because of one weird night a few years ago I still believe, despite all scientific evidence, that Blue Agave tequila could be used as local anesthetic.

Anyway. The mixture smells horrible. It smells like expired cleaning supplies from a train station bathroom that the janitors gave up on.

It also tastes like soap.

I dumped it after three sips.

Mixer 5: Barone Fini: Pinot Grigio

My mom walked over and smelled this before I drank it. She said it smelled gross. She told my brother what I was doing and he also said, and I quote, “Gross.”

It tastes really sweet. It’s also really dry. Like knockoff Barefoot.

The berry flavor disappeared. Actually the berry flavor eliminated most of the taste, kinda like novocaine.

I dumped it after three sips.

Well, I survived…I think. I drank some warm water and it tasted great. But then I noticed the aftertaste of the mixed drinks which I can only describe as like acid reflux from eating too many Gushers.

It took me about an hour to write and research all this and the after taste left but I now have a sore throat. Thanks a lot, Dr. Pepper.

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