New Beverages at a Pennsylvania Convenience Store

Yes, they really make something this cool. . .

Yes, they really make something this cool. . .

Can you believe this?

One thing I love about road trips is the chance to sample local cuisine and libation. Recently, we were on a road trip, driving through Pennsylvania and stopped to fill up the ol’ Family Truckster. I walked into the gas station, parched, sweaty, and ready for a refreshing beverage, when I saw this:

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Now I don’t know about you, but I am a pretty big fan of the Choco Taco.

Our local Taco Bueno used to carry these delectable bites of soft vanilla ice cream, crispy cookie shell, drizzled milk chocolate and salty peanuts, and my parents would never buy me one. I heard the usual excuses of, “They’re too expensive,” and, “I just bought you a real taco, can’t you be satisfied with that?” and, “We have a whole box of those at home that I just bought at Sam’s Club.”

They may have thought they could fool us kids, but my brother and I always knew that the ones at Taco Bueno were special. They tasted different. Maybe it was the fact that their freezer was set on a different level of chill, or maybe it was the fact that the Bueno ones were imported all the way from Toledo, Ohio, while ours was more of a local concoction.

Whatever the case, I would often grumble, and settle for the Choco Taco out of our own freezer, but I always wanted a Bueno one. Whenever I was lucky enough to get one, I would relish the cold crispy cream of the thing  and . . . spit the peanuts into a napkin, because honestly, those things were stale and gross.

Anyhow I saw this, and immediately wanted to call my mother, which I didn’t do, because have you ever tried to get off the phone with that woman? I tried to call her once, just to ask her for a recipe for boiled eggs and two hours later I was still not convinced that Sarah Palin should be the next President.

But I digress . . .  ignoring the strong self-destructive impulse to make contact with my parental figure, I walked up to the machine and pushed this button:

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Unfortunately, what came out in no way made me think of Taco Bueno. Instead, it made me think of a clear, waterfall maybe in Switzerland or Spearfish, South Dakota.

“Huh?’ I said aloud, and did what any reasonable, thinking American would do. I smacked the side of the machine and pushed the button again.

Again, nothing but hot water.

“It’s broken,” the helpful clerk said, not looking up from his National Enquirer (did you know they still make those things? Who says print is dead?).

So, I walked over to the soda cooler, a bit forlonly. I was not gonna taste my Choco Taco drink, after all, it appeared.

But what I saw sitting in that cooler, restored my faith in mankind as a whole, and the great state of Pennsylvania. Because there, right before my watering eyes, were two entirely new beverages that I had never heard of, before.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the following two sodas:

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Now I had never heard of either of these beverages before, and one of them effected me so much that I am going to write a separate post about it (I am looking at you, Frozen Run). The other, Cherikee Red, we should discuss right now.

The first thing you will notice about this particular brand of soda, is that they mispelled the word Cherokee.

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They did this on purpose. You see, and here’s the kicker, Cherikee Red is a cherry flavored soda! Now I don’t know who’s bright idea it was to attach the Cherokee Nation to a cherry flavored soft drink, but I would like to shake his/her hand.

This is brilliant! In a day and age where sensitivities run wild, and folks are offended at the drop of a hat (or headdress, if you are so inclined) it is nice to know that there are those of us that are still brave enough to insult an entire group of Native Americans in order to sell a bottle of soda.

I was trying to imagine the way this idea came about, and for some reason I pictured a drunken game of beer pong in which one of the guys slurringly referred to one of his competitors as a “Cherrykee.” This gave the competitor such a moment of brilliant inspiration that he spilled his beer, grabbed a napkin, and sketched the first ever Cherikee Red bottle design, right then and there.

That probably didn’t happen, but when your imagination is as active as mine . . .

Anyhow,

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I purchased both bottles of pop, and then went to my car to try them. I was afraid that the faces I made might be too orgasmic for public display. The Cherikee Red looked delicious, and since I love me some cherry, I decided to take a long pull from it.

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If I had to sum up my entire experience in one word: Meh. The soda is sweet, but the cherry is extremely underwhelming. In fact, you kind of have to search for it. It tastes like sweet soda water with an aftertaste of some kind of cherry flavor, if you squint and smack your lips. I wanted it to taste better than it did. That is not to say that it is a bad soda, just that it is a slightly mediocre one.

I later found out that this soda has been around since 1969, and started in Cleveland (Cleveland Rocks!), Ohio. It had been thought to have gone extinct, but recently has had a resurgence in Pennsylvania and Ohio. So there you have it. Cherikee Red soda.

Honestly, in this day and age, where everyone gets offended about everything, and we tolerate everything unless it offends anyone, it is nice to know that a soda like this still exists. When well-meaning half-wits are trying to get the Redskins and the Chiefs to change their names because it is offensive to Native Americans, I rest just a little bit easier at night, knowing a product like this still exists somewhere in the Ohio and Pennsylvanian wilderness.

Oh, and before you get all, “you don’t understand their plight,” and all that crap, let me assure you that I am, indeed, part Cherokee Indian, and after last Saturday, I am pleased to say that I am also part Cherikee.

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