Many people wrote to me about my recent post on soda and juice, so I thought it would be worth talking about the various kinds of drinks that are marketed to us right here in Ohio, the middle of America. Remember my vignette about the diabetic character on TV? Suddenly the character begins to act a little strangely, but she’s not too confused to murmur to her friend, “Help me check my blood sugar. I think it’s too low.” Sure enough. Now everyone on the set starts to run. What are they getting? Something with loads of sugar, something she will absorb very quickly. Like orange juice. Or a fruit drink, or maybe a coke.
So…sweet beverages like juices and sodas (many with 12 teaspoons of sugar per can) are good choices if you want to spike your blood sugar. None for me, thanks.
I decided to visit the “beverage center” at our local Walmart to see what’s in stock. I especially wanted to look at the names of some of these beverages. My hypothesis, borne out of experiences with margarine and breakfast cereals, is that the more manufactured the product type, the more creative the brand names.
Here’s what I found in the beverage aisles: Excluding carbonated drinks entirely, there was Sunny D, Powerade, Gatorade (11 flavors), Juicy Juice, Country Time, Tahitian Treat, Hawaiian Punch (many flavors), “Propel vitamin enhanced water beverage mix” (raspberry lemonade naturally and artificially flavored, and berry naturally flavored), and “Dasani Natural Lemon Flavored Water Beverage.” V8 Splash (not the well known V8 tomato juice) was available in mango peach, fruit medley, berry blend, and tropical blend, which also has a “diet” version.
Caffeinated or coffee-flavored beverages included Red Bull energy drink (original and sugar free), Monster (regular, mega and lo-carb), Starbucks Frappucino coffee drink in 3 flavors (coffee, mocha, vanilla), and Starbucks doubleshot espresso & cream premium coffee drink (regular and light).
Country Time Lemonade Drink Mix gets consumed in quantity around these parts, so I thought I’d check it out online. According to the official website, Country Time’s name is “reminiscent of a time when it was easier to get good old-fashioned lemonade.” The powdered mix was first marketed in 1975 by a TV character named “Grandpa.” Cans and bottles hit the market in 1982. Then came Pink Lemonade (1995), Iced Tea with Lemon (2003), Strawberry Lemonade (2004), and Country Time Light Lemonade (2005). The Strawberry Lemonade is “the perfect blend of two favorite flavors: sweet, sun-ripened strawberries and the classic taste of lemonade.” Or, you could buy strawberries and lemons, and mix them with sugar and water.
In addition to V8 and V8Splash, V8 makes a fruit juice product called “V8 Vfusion.” No matter which V8 Vfusion you buy, the first ingredient is sweet potato juice. The flavors at Walmart included acai-mixed berry, strawberry-banana, pomegranate-blueberry, goji-raspberry,and passionfruit-tangerine. The acai was listed 6th, the strawberry 7th, and the banana 8th in the list of ingredients. You’re not really eating tangerines, passionfruit or berries; you’re just eating the names. You’re not even eating sweet potatoes. And you’re paying a price that is much higher than the one marked on the bottle.
Among the powdered mixes, Crystal Light took the cake. The juxtaposition of the words “natural,” “flavor,” and “artificial” was curious. I didn’t even know about Crystal Light live active (with 3g of fiber), Crystal Light energy, Crystal Light focus, or Crystal Light sunrise prior to my Walmart excursion. Wouldn’t it be better just to get some sleep and exercise?
I also found Crystal Light natural lemonade flavor, natural pink lemonade flavor, peach artificial flavor, raspberry lemonade flavor, white grape artificial flavor, crystal light red tea, crystal light white tea and, believe it or not, “crystal light green tea natural honeylemon flavor with other natural flavor.” You can’t get a whole lot more creative than that. The word “natural,” which appears twice, describes not the product itself, but its flavor. It surely took a lot of work to figure out how to make those eleven words sound so natural.
So what else is there to drink? If you don’t care for a glass of cool water, right from the tap, or a glass of milk, or unsweetened iced tea, then try this recipe: Dissolve ¼ c. sugar with ¼ c. water in a saucepan over low heat. Set aside. Mix 2 cups of water and 1 + 1/2 c. lemon juice (fresh squeezed if you’d like) together in a large pitcher filled halfway with ice while you allow the syrup to cool. Stir the syrup into the contents of the pitcher. Add lemon slices, strawberry slices or mint leaves, slightly bruised, to garnish. Serves 4-6. To your good health!