There are times when I have felt fear in the course of my job as Quaffmaster. However, it's not at the times you might think. Faced with something unknown, green, and foamy? No fear. Got to BevMo right after closing, and fresh out of anything drinkable? No fear. Biotta Digestive Drink? No fear.
Okay, well, maybe a little fear. But no quavering!
However, if you spend some time in this field, you become aware of a seething underlayer of resentment and hatred, of dark passions and darker betrayals, in which the slightest misstep can bring down DOOM unlike any seen since the fall of Sarnath onto oneself and one's family, yea, even unto the seventh generation. This war has been raging for decades, consuming many who attempted to take stands both heroic and base. Right now, it has retreated below ground, but it is always there, seething beneath our bottle bottoms like magma, ready to burst forth in incandescent fountains of scorching, sticky vituperation.
I refer, of course, to the Sweetener Wars.
Once, long ago, sweetness was simple. Sugar was sweet, and if you wanted something sweet, you put sugar into it. Sugar could be obtained from any number of vegetable sources. Scientists were delving into its secrets. We knew of the simple monosaccharides; glucose, fructose, galactose, and others of that ilk. Heck, the basis of life itself--DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid--is partially based on a sugar (deoxyribose). And then there were the sweet, sweet disaccharides: sucrose (cane sugar), a combination of glucose and fructose, was plentiful, sweet, and fun.
And then we realized that--GASP--sugar had calories!
Well, you all know the rest. Saccharin, which ended up being a carcinogen if you ate sixteen gazillion pounds each day. Nutrasweet (aspartame), which has the capacity to become formaldehyde in your body. Splenda (or sucralose), which seems to be a partially chlorinated version of sugar. All of these are sweet but calorie-free, and all of them seem to end up being prone to causing one to grow tentacles or some such.
Amongst calorie-enabled sweeteners, cane sugar has been replaced in many foods by high-fructose corn syrup, which is chemically similar to what sucrose turns into in your digestive tract but avoids the need for enzymatic breakdown (and thus one step of control).
High-fructose corn syrup vs. cane sugar is currently the major flashpoint in the war. HFCS is somewhat cheaper (sue at least partially to massive corn subsidies) and easier to distribute, so popular with manufacturers. Sugar advocates assert that it is dangerous, and leads to obesity and diabetes. Science is cited on both sides. Tempers flare.
Many Weird sodas have chosen to use cane sugar (the story of Dublin Dr. Pepper being an inspiring example). Others use HFCS. And tonight, we will see a representative of a third faction in the battle: agave nectar.
Well, let's see. What can we find on agave syrup...made mostly in Mexico, comes from agave, consists of varying percentages of...ah.
Glucose and fructose.
Like everything else.
Oh, and sometimes it's processed with enzymes extracted from black mold.
Anyway, tonight, we're trying Oogave Watermelon Cream, which is sweetened with agave nectar--that is to say, a form of natural SUGAR. I like the idea of a watermelon cream, though. And it's been hot this week.
Where and when: purchased August 2009 at Cost Plus, Westwood, CA
Color: A very pale pink.
Scent: Very sweet, creamy, slightly bubble-gumish.
Taste: Very, very sweet, with bubble gum being the strongest initial taste. That lingers for 5-10 seconds, then a tart fruit taste comes slowly in.
I don't detect a lot of watermelon, and the cream is strong and synthetic-tasting. For something made entirely of natural ingredients, this tastes very artificial.
K-i-C: *shudders* That's...nasty.
I guess there's a hint of watermelon in the tartness, but it's faint.
I can't actually say that I much care for this. Too bad; I like watermelon, and I like cream soda. Thi is not really either; it's a bubble gum soda with a faint hint of watermelon and aluminum.
Quaff rating: 2.5. Not all that good.
Cough rating: 0.5. Not all that bad.
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