Wednesday, October 15, 2008

THE SOUTH SHALL GULP AGAIN!

Allow me to take time away from the usual musical obsessions of mine to blab on about an interesting beverage that I have discovered a few days ago during a quickie trip to Virginia. Or shall I say let me clue you all in to a drink that I finally had the opportunity to guzzle during my recent stay since I actually knew about CHEERWINE since the mid-eighties, a time in my life when various vending machines dispensing this rather provincial drink were espied about the tri-county area. Unfortunately by the time I decided to actually part with the overpriced vending machine prices and try some of this concoction (which I actually believed given its name was some sort of non-alcoholic wine cooler!) each and every Cheerwine machine I had seen, usually located at self-serve gasoline stations and laundromats, had vamoosed from the area leading me to believe that this drink was yet another failed biz venture doomed to eternal obscurity along with Shake-a-Puddin' and Snickerdoodles.

So you can believe my surprise when I found Cheerwine being available in a Pepsi machine at the motel in Staunton Virginny where I just happened to be staying! I guess there are second chances in life, and although I would have preferred another one at school (given I'd already know all the answers to my first grade tests!) or rejecting some of the "bright ideas" that elders were pretty much forcing down my throat I figure better try this stuff now or forever hold my burps, and thusly paid a gigundo $1.50 in order to give my torpid taste buds yet another tingly treat.

And y'know what, this Cheerwine stuff is pretty good. Basically a wild cherry soda, Cheerwine tastes little if anything like those off brand cherry pops (or even Nehi) that you remember from your childhood. Of course the label says that this drink also has "other natural flavors" in it so don't expect that overtly sugary-styled drink that got you all hopped up at during those long-gone family get-togethers. Cheerwine tastes pretty professional if that's the correct word for a soft drink, reminding me more of a Dr. Pepper without the cola. It has a nice, mature taste that isn't overbearing and in fact "goes down" (calm down, Dave!) rather smoothly without the pain of sugar afterburn down the trachea. The wikipedia entry for Cheerwine mentioned that this drink had more carbonation than the usual big-name soft drinks but I thought the bottle I drank in fact had less than usual, perhaps giving Cheerwine a look closer to a light sparkling wine hence the name! (According to wikipedia, the name of the drink came from its burgundy coloring.)

What's really cool about Cheerwine is that if you have kids who are always pestering you to have a swig of the adult beverage you're imbibing, you can always give them Cheerwine and they'll think they're drinking the real deal and leave you in peace as you get bombed outta your gourd! And like Shirley Temples and Freddie Bartholomews, Cheerwine can get your kids geared up for the days when they'll legally be able to scarf down all fermented brews without fear of legal reprisal! Use it as a LEARNING TOOL!!!

Good stuff this Cheerwine, and I really do wish they'd try to market it here in Western Pee-YAY again. Sure would make a good companion to a Chinese dinner or even an evening of tee-vee watching, although it is caffeinated so you may get jittery trying to fall asleep later on. But if you wanna stay up and peck out inane blogposts all night what better way to keep alert than a bottle or three of Cheerwine? Ahhh, I can just feel it swooshing down the gullet as we speak...wotta drink!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Chris, Cheerwine is the state beverage down south in North Carolina, and has been for decades. And, you're right, my sons love it for exactly the reason you describe. Much preferable to Cherry Coke, and it's often on sale at the local grocery purveyor, making it a lot cheaper, too. I never saw it in my times living in central and eastern PA, tho.

Woody said...

How is it with 151 proof rum?

Michael said...

There's a store in Northeast LA (Highland Park) called Galco's Old World Grocery that sells obscure brands of soda from around the world, including US brands little seen since the Kennedy Administration. I've known Detroit area transplants who go there just because they're the only store in LA that sells Faygo, for example. Don't know if they do mail-order, though....

Christopher said...

They still have Faygo all over the place here in Western PA, but I find their soda pretty icky, especially their diet orange.

Anonymous said...

I've never had Faygo. I've been told by people from Michigan and Ohio that if you didn't grow up with it you'll hate it.

A complete list of everything Galco offers can be found at http://www.sodapopstop.com/store/shop.asp?mid=119. Surprised Galco carries Moxie...- Michael

baconfat said...

I grew up in Staunton and my family still lives there... I shudder to think what sort of business brought you there and required an overnight stay.

But glad you got to reconnect with the Cheerwine.

Christopher said...

The filming went fine, and the kids were back in school the next day.