It was the Soda Stream soda-maker I received from Mrs. Brad that reminded me of Cragmont Diet Chocolate Mint soda.
I was drinking some “Dr. Pete” soda at work – made at my house with the soda-maker that I received for Christmas – when we started discussing knock-off sodas. They are soda brands that want you to know they are the similar to the best-sellers, but cheaper. We’re not talking about Shasta sodas or RC Cola. We’re talking about Dr. Pete (amazingly similar to Dr. Pepper!), Dr. Bold (same thing, only sold by Albertson’s!) or Dr. Skipper (same thing, only Safeway!). We’re talking about Mountain Lightning, made by Sam’s Club to imitate Mountain Dew.
I suspect that with Soda Stream, I’ll find other similar titles. I know they sell Diet Cola, Energy Drink (is a more generic term possible?) and others. They may have more coming down the pike (6-Up? Mountain Hew?).
But anyway, the discussion moved to the Cragmont-brand sodas sold at Safeway stores until being discontinued. It was the store’s private brand, so they created cola, root beer, orange and other flavors and sold them in bland-looking containers. It tasted weak, but it was far cheaper than name brands: You could get a six-pack of Cragmont Cola for 99 cents at my local Safeway. Why would I pay 50 cents at a soda machine for one soda when I could get six for less than a dollar?
I’m cheap. I bought Cragmont.
However, stocking the refrigerator in my studio apartment with Cragmont sodas – and the occasional name brands – didn’t leave me much. That’s because my friends, who still lived at their parents’ house and knew where I hid my apartment key, came over at odd hours and made themselves at home.
They drank my soda. Nearly all of it.
I’m not very confrontational now and I wasn’t then. I understood that my friends weren’t being jerks, they were just drinking soda at my apartment. I realized that they just wanted to hang out at my place, since their parents weren’t as cool as me.
But I got tired of buying soda, coming home thirsty from my pizza parlor job and being unable to find anything to drink.
So I solved the problem. Not by moving the key – heck, I liked the idea of them coming over when they wanted. I solved it by buying soda they wouldn’t drink.
I began buying only Cragmont Diet Chocolate Mint.
It was as bad as it sounds – a slightly chocolate, slightly minty, slightly carbonated beverage that was usually lukewarm by the time I drank it.
But that’s the point. I got to drink it. My friends didn’t.
Years later, the mention of Diet Chocolate Mint makes me smile. It sounds as gross as it was, but it quenched my thirst. And allowed me to retain my home as a cool hangout for my friends.
Now, with a Soda Stream, I might look into making my own. Carbonate the water, add some chocolate flavor, crush up a few mints . . . who knows, maybe it will taste like Cragmont Diet Chocolate Mint!
I sure hope not.
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.