Ah, Galco's. If you read my account of my pilgrimage to Galco's, then you know of the rich and diverse soda ecosystem which flourishes there. Like a carbonated rain forest, there are many species of soda, beer, and wine, all living together in a delicately balanced ballet of autotrophs and heterotrophs, hunter and hunted, fliers, creepers, walkers, etc. In the beverage ecosystem of Galco's, there are sodas which stride mightily through the forest, noble countenances held up to the sun, lords of their domain. There are the swift apex predators, culling the herds of those sodas which are weak and unworthy, crisply scented, with a serious bite. There are the placid grazers--not the sort of thing you would be likely to take postcards of, unassuming and unremarkable, but as necessary to the smooth balance of the beverage world as any other beast (and some of these unexpectedly unfurl glittering violet wings and soar like cane-sugar-sweetened butterflies when you least expect it).
And then there are the lowly crawling things which ooze through the leaf litter. These are the decomposers; slugs, slime molds, unspeakable fungi and arthropods, worms of the earth. The things which you know are there--whether you've thought of them with your sunlit, conscious mind or not. Deep in your mind, in the dark corners where you don't go unless you're looking for a missing sock, you've seen them--the glistening, gently heaving sides, speckled with mildew. The smoothly articulated chitinous exoskeletons, gliding noiselessly across a leg with too many joints, somewhere behind you. The nameless creeping hyphae of a mycelium which never sees the light of day, but which nevertheless waits just beneath the spongy soil. These are the parts of the rain forest which serve the darker functions--necessary for the cycle of life and renewal, even as they appear as its mirror opposite. Even the ancients knew it--the bright sun, giver of life, must daily make its journey through a dark and stony underworld in order to rise again.
I fear that this may be THAT kind of Weird Soda. But here at Weird Soda Review, we do not shrink from our duty. It is our mission to know ALL that can be known of Weird Soda, and that includes coconut soda in green cans.
CoCo Rico doesn't, on its surface, look threatening. It's a coconut soda. It's a pleasant shade of green with big cheerful letters and a picture of palm trees. And yet something sinister resides even in the design on the can. The name "CoCo" hangs heavy over the image of the shaved coconut, the letters cyclopean, seeming to weigh down upon it with a burden of forbidden knowledge. There is what at first seems to be a sun partially eclipsed by the palm tree, but on closer inspection, it is angular and crystalline. It can't be the familiar, warm, life-giving sun--so what is it? A strange, cold, sharp-edged entity, glowing with some sort of leprous phosphorescence. The yellowish color of this "sun" is tinged a sickly green. And below and to the right of the "Rico"--like a nagging doubt which cannot be dispelled, like a memory of unnameable deeds done in a forgotten cemetery under a gibbous moon, never to be expunged--there is the simple yet sinister label "Since 1935" on a yellowed parchment scroll. What happened in 1935 that haunts this can of soda to this day?
Where and when: purchased 4/11/09 at Galco's, Los Angeles
Color: clear. I'm tempted to say "as pus", but that hardly seems necessary, even for this review.
Scent: strange. There's a slightly sharp sweetness, almost like rice wine, with a salty-sour faint undertone. It's not quite like any other soda I've smelled before, and I don't think I like it.
Lead Assistant: "Too sweet. Not enough sour. Bleaaahh."
Taste: Er...guh...bleh...ugh. This is really, really weird. It has a very strong initial sweet--not syrupy, actually pretty crisp and clean--but it's followed a moment later by a bitter/sour vegetable taste.
Lead Assistant: "BLLEEEAH! Huh..huuuhh...(wipes mouth, scrapes tongue)"
I can taste the coconut, but there is something else here. It's the taste equivalent of suddenly knowing that you're being watched--that there is something else in the room with you, even though you can't see anything. You turn, whirling, hoping desperately to get a glimpse of this unknown entity, but there is nothing there. Only the corners of your room, familiar, yet now possessed of a nameless threat. Whatever it is, you can't see it; it remains elusive.
Until you feel the faintest touch of tendrils on your shoulder.
This tastes like that.
Lead Assistant: "I wish one of those predators would eat it."
I can't quite figure out what that taste is. I am compelled to keep sipping it, even knowing that it may be corroding my very soul, so that I can try and figure out what that second taste is. The Lead Assistant Tester has no such compulsion.
Lead Assistant: "I don't think I want any more."
Well, I'll do my best. It is not wholly sweet, nor sour, nor salty nor bitter. It is partially vegetable, beginning with an intense sweetness, but fading into a strange sour/salt with hints of what might be asparagus or sweet pea. It is something I cannot and must not recall.
The more I drink it, the stranger it gets. The initial sweetness is now getting cloying, but it still fades without comment into the weird plant-y taste. There is not much aftertaste--just faint, mocking echoes of that sour/bitter, with a faded, dusty remnant of the sweetness, whispering structured nonsense into an ear which can no longer hear.
Quaff rating: 2. Gets worse with time.
Cough rating: 3. Gave me shivers.
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