Mmmmmmexican Coke

I had noticed for some years that it was increasingly common to see, in the Mexican food sections of most local grocery stores, stocked in amongst the numerous flavors of Jarritos soda, a few glass bottles (the old-time returnable kind) of Coke. Mexican Coke. I never really “got it” or, frankly, cared too much to figure out what might be different about it and why it would be sold here, but lately it seems that the Cuba Libre (more commonly known simply as a Rum-and-Coke, or, if you prefer, a Rum-‘n’-Coke) is becoming trendy… for some reason. But along the way to that discovery, I also learned what’s different about Mexican Coke and why people, especially those who are used to it, would bother to buy it instead of the American version. The recipe still includes cane sugar.

Yes, although we’ve had “Coke Classic” here in the U.S. since the Coca-Cola company gave up on the insipid “New Coke” concept (although, interestingly, you can still buy it as “Coke II” in certain parts of Chicago), it’s not really the original formula, and not just because it doesn’t include cocaine. (I’m not talking that original here.) The U.S. version had the cane sugar replaced with America’s most beloved ingredient, high-fructose corn syrup, in the mid-1980s, around the same time that particular ingredient started showing up in everything. Click the link above to learn more about why Americans, or at least American corporations, love the stuff so much. It’s also worth checking out some of the commentary on the failed 1985 launch of New Coke and the reintroduction, a few months later, of Coke Classic. One almost has to wonder if the whole New Coke thing wasn’t just a risky ploy to ultimately get away with switching Coke Classic from cane sugar to corn syrup, since this was the moment when that transition occurred. Perhaps going straight to HFCS would have enraged customers, since it does taste slightly different, but the few months enduring the original drink’s miserable replacement made Coke Classic seem great, even if it was slightly different than before. But I digress… (Then again, isn’t digression the defining characteristic of this blog?)

Tonight SLP and I decided to try the “traditional” Cuba Libre, not just the college freshman’s intoxicant of choice, so although we still lamed out on the rum with Bacardi, we got a bottle of Mexican Coke, and took the extra step of including a lime wedge in the drink.

I didn’t actually try any of the Mexican Coke on its own, since I needed all of it for the mixed drinks, but even with the rum and the lime mixed in, I could tell the difference in the Coke. The drink overall lacked the cloying, slightly chemical-y taste I am now accustomed to in Coke. For a moment I had a flashback to the taste of my youth (minus the rum, of course). I look forward to trying a bottle of Mexican Coke on its own soon, preferably consumed straight from the bottle, since they’re the same shape and thickness as the old returnable bottles of yore… just slightly larger, since the Mexican bottles hold 500 mL (16.9 oz) instead of 16 oz.

I’ve noticed that Mexican Coke is getting easier and easier to find in the U.S. these days, so for those of you who, like me, are old enough to remember (though you may have long since forgotten it) the taste of pre-corn syrup Coke, I recommend picking up a bottle sometime soon!

More than you ever wanted to know about Mark Summers

Know Mark Summers? He hosted the messy Nickelodeon game show Double Dare way back when, and these days he’s the host of Unwrapped on Food Network, which I am, unfortunately, watching as I write this. (Hey, it was that or the routine weekly post-SNL broadcast of the Guthy-Renker infomercial for the Midnight Special DVD collection.)

The show is moderately interesting as a glimpse into the operations of various quirky businesses in the food industry (such as the one they’re talking about now, whose corporate office is a 7-story replica of a wicker picnic basket that would put Beebe Gallini‘s powder puff factory to shame). But the most distinctive thing about it is the maddening, Shatner-esque start-and-stop cadence of Mark Summer’s voiceovers. I’m sure he doesn’t really talk that way, at least I hope so, but on TV, he’s so programmed into this particular way of speaking — which presumably originated long ago in broadcasting schools with the desire to sound enthusiastic and engaging, and be easy to follow — that, ironically, I can barely concentrate on what he’s saying due to the way he says it.

I was not aware until I set about writing this post that Mark Summers is also a spokesperson for OCD, as detailed on his stunningly mid-’90s-style website. Wowwee. That site must have seemed freakin’ awesome at the time, what with its 3-D animated GIF logo, frameset navigation that unpredictably disappears on certain pages, etc. I don’t mean to mock a psychological condition, but you’d think someone with OCD would have no truck with this. It certainly hasn’t aged well, and I find it funny that the company that designed and (apparently, given its URL) hosts it still has the audacity to tout having been featured in a 1999 magazine.

P.S. This is what I get for drinking coffee after 5 PM. 8 hours later I’m still up doing… this.

Ready to vomit? Here you go…

On most days I spend a little time perusing Wired for random and interesting articles. Random and interesting doesn’t always mean “pleasant” or “not-utterly-repulsive” however, and so it was today.

Gallery: The Most Curious Canned Goods Found Online

Yes, they’re pretty nasty. Especially the boiled duck embryos. But if you’re not retching yet, be sure to check out the shocking cholesterol content in a can of Pork Brains in Milk Gravy. Just don’t tell your cardiologist! I think even reading about the stuff might give you a heart attack.

This gives “scare quotes” a whole new meaning…

Once SLP and I get a taste for the classic Thanksgiving dinner, we just can’t get enough. We often make a turkey in late October/early November in preparation for Thanksgiving, and often within a day or two of eating the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, we get another turkey and do it all over again.

Such was the case today. However, even though Thanksgiving was just three days ago, fresh turkeys are already hard to come by. I was at a local Cub Foods today and found several packaged fresh turkey halves, presumably cut up from the large stock of fresh Thanksgiving turkeys that went unsold.

But… when I got home, there was something about the label on the package that really did put the “scare” in “scare quotes“:

“Fresh” Turkey Half


The last Thanksgiving dinner you’ll ever host…

…might just include some of these foodstuffs. And I use the term loosely.

Yes, you can have your entire Thanksgiving dinner in soda form.

Update (November 26, 2006): Although I missed getting them in time for Thanksgiving, I picked up two packages of the Jones holiday soda at Target yesterday. I’m saving one pack for my parents at Christmas, but I’ll be bringing the other pack to work tomorrow to test on my coworkers. Stay tuned for more info…