The Lab recently hosted an event in which some of our junior researchers joined their colleagues in a pseudo-historical reenactment scenario, facilitated by semi-randomized stochastic generation of personality proxies in a constructed-reality interactive discourse*.
The mother of one of these colleagues (who has asked that she be identified by the alias ChopChop), knowing of my core research interests, brought over a variety of Asian Weirdness for sampling. She and I did a joint investigation of two of the examples (which will be posted soon), but she was kind enough to leave the rest for later consideration. Tonight, I'll be trying Gettin' Cool Strawberry Soda.
Gettin' Cool also makes a melon flavor (I'll have to do that one). While there's nothing all that Weird about strawberry soda, the name "Gettin' Cool" provides a certain undeniable Weirdness. It also comes in the unusual torpedo-shaped screw-top metal bottle, which I have only seen in Japanese sodas.
Where and when: donated by ChopChop, March 2011
Color: I was expecting a frighteningly oversaturated red, but it's actually a pleasant pale peach-orange.
Scent: Fruity, slightly tart, quite strawberry-ish. Actually not far from the scent of ripe strawberries, which is a very pleasant surprise.
Taste: The initial taste is cool in the mouth, and has a berryish flavor, but sweeter than actual fruit--more of a mixed-berry preserves feel. The taste of strawberry is there, but it's as if there were also some raspberries and blackberries thrown in. It's very nice; I'm enjoying it a lot. Refreshing, pleasant, and not too far from real strawberry. A fine fruit soda.
A few seconds later, a tartness begins to creep in at the edges. You think, "Ah, yes, here it comes. It was inevitable, I suppose, that an acrid, acidic, hideous hell-taste of corn syrup aftertaste would make itself known. Come on in, make yourself at home. No, I'm not busy, I was just enjoying this unexpectedly berry-like strawberry soda, thinking it might be something special, and then you had to come right along, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU? Well, I can't say I'm surprised."
But then you really are surprised, because that taste never develops into the full flower of acidity which you've experienced so many times before. Instead, the tartness just sort of...hovers. It lingers, unwilling to come into the light. The acid aftertaste skulks around in the shadows at the edge of the room like a Quaffmaster at an eighth-grade dance, desperate for attention--affection--the smallest drop of feminine interest, yet knowing that such is not to be his. This tartness just drifts around, lingering by the snack table and desultorily snitching Chee-tos from the bowl, unhappy eyes on the whirl of gaiety, frivolity, and la-di-dah merrymaking occurring out there in the light, watching the cool people doing their dances and engaging in witty eighth-grade repartee**. This acid aftertaste can't quite get up the courage to step out and be itself, to say "Here I am, behold me!" Instead, it'll just grab another handful of M&Ms.
Yes, this aftertaste doesn't quite come forward and grab the spotlight, it just sits there and makes sure you know it hasn't gone away.
This is not entirely a bad thing; the main flavor is quite nice, a lovely berry flavor, almost like real strawberries, and the absence of excessive acid is welcome. However, I can't help but notice that, ten minutes after the taste, it's still there. The dance is over, kid. She left with that guy in the turtleneck, who actually knows how to dance and doesn't watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail as religiously as you do. Better luck next time. Now go home.***
Quaff rating: 3.5. Pretty nice--surprisingly so. One of the better strawberry sodas I've had.
Cough rating: 0.5; the persistent acid is the only problem. It's still there, by the way.
*Also known as the Pathfinder role-playing game. This area of interest may, just may, be related to some of the other issues which came up in this review.
** "You ask her!" "No, YOU ask her!" "No, YOU!" *giggle giggle burp*
*** I actually did get to dance with her, and even asked her to "go with me", which was quite the thing in eighth grade. A week later, she broke up with me, and published what amounted to a public denial of responsibility for the whole episode in the yearbook.
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