February 22nd, 2011

mighty cola

Lots o’ Soda: Diet Sun Drop

Though this may be on the verge of changing — Dr. Pepper, having owned the brand for a while, is starting to ramp up its marketing and distribution and use it as a competitor of Mountain Dew — but Sun Drop is a valuable lesson in the risks of underselling.  First developed in the ’30s in St. Louis, it developed a loyal following all up and down the Mississippi River, especially in the deep South and Minnesota.  On first gulp, it’s a little lighter and less sweet than Mountain Dew, but with a distinctive flavor that comes from the presence, albeit in minuscule amounts, of orange juice.  It’s also got massive amounts of caffeine — far more than Dew, which is famous for its get-you-hopped-up factor.  Even better for fat slugs like me, the diet version contains even more caf than the regular dose:  the sports-drink abomination known as Vault is the only American soda that has more caffeine content than Diet Sun Drop.  Curiously, neither the jolly ol’ OJ content (and the concomitant bogus claims of healthfulness it would allow them to make) nor the nearly coffee-esque levels of caffeine are used as selling points by the manufacturers.  Instead, they seem to be going for a more or less generic eXXXtreme-soda-eXXXperience, of the sort that could be stuck carelessly onto any citrus soda.  Why they don’t take advantage of not one, but two, fairly unique selling points is beyond me, but hey, I just drink the stuff.  I should give their marketing department free advice?


mmmmm delicious

The Sandwich Century: #3 – The Bacon Sandwich

English cuisine’s reputations for being bland and flavorless is not entirely justified.  Sure, the things they do to vegetables should be prosecutable at the Hague, but there are plenty of dishes in the British national menu that are quite tasty.  The problem with them isn’t that they’re bland; the problem is that they’re incredibly unhealthful.  Scotch eggs, toad-in-the-hole, and the tendency of Scotsmen to not eat anything unless it’s been deep-fried for several hours all contribute to the bottom line that the British bottom line is broadening by the decade.  The typical football hooligan is now just as fat, if not fatter, than his American counterpart, and God bless them for it.  This tends to run head-on into another contemporary British culinary tendency:  despite the fact that England is the home of the sandwich as we know it, in recent years, what citizens of the U.K. are willing to consider a sandwich falls well below what we Americans would find acceptable outside the boundaries of an Appalachian trailer park.

We’ll have more on this as the Sandwich Century progresses, but for now, we hop from Australia to the land Australians were kicked out of for a delicious bacon sandwich.  While in America, we tend to name sandwiches after some central ingredient, a bacon sandwich is just that:  bacon and bread.  No fucking around here:  just bacon and bread.  I am generally not on board with the recent, internet-driven fetishization of bacon; it’s part of a typical contemporary tendency to suck all the joy out of a good thing by applying overkill until it becomes annoying.  Bacon, though, well, fuck:  bacon is delicious.  Is it delicious enough to support an entire sandwich on its own?  Let’s find out.

THE SANDWICH: The bacon sandwich, or “bacon butty” as it’s known by British people who are trying to embarrass us, is a staple of pub cuisine:  simple, delicious, and fatal.  (Although, curiously, there seems to be an attempt, based on several websites I consulted for research, to claim that this is actually a healthful meal.  The argument is based on some kind of protein vs. carbs thing, but I’m not buying it.  For one thing, it tastes too good to be good for you.)  Combined with a pint of stout, this seems like the basis of a face-punching good time.

THE INGREDIENTS: Crusty white bread, toasted.  Bacon.  (I cooked it in butter, as suggested by various recipe sites, and my heart stopped several times just frying it.  I also added some pepper to pretend that I was actually preparing food.)  The only other ingredient is HP sauce as a dressing.  Apparently there is some Yorkshire v. Lancashire controversy in the U.K., the former preferring their butty made with crispy bacon and the former choosing it soft and sauceless; in this, I must side with the Yorkies.

THE TASTE TEST: Look, folks, I’m not going to lie to you:  all this is is bacon and toast.  On the other hand, this is bacon and toast, and who doesn’t like bacon and toast?  Crazy people, that’s who.  It’s no secret that on the taste spectrum, I’m a great one for the savories; this thing is already deep in the red, savory-wise, and the addition of HP sauce, my second-favorite condiment after mustard, pushes it well past ‘ultra-savory’ and into the area known as ‘savory as fuck’.  The great contradiction of food arises in this sandwich:  it is extraordinarily delicious, but eating it brings you one giant leap closer to the grave.  No one lives forever, though, and this is a leap I was more than willing to make.