Friday, December 5, 2008

The sun of the South, in a can

Sun Drop must be enjoyed with Southern style.

Six years of journalism school can prepare you for covering a fatal accident. It can prepare you for covering a dull news conference. It can prepare you for designing the front page, shooting a video and editing lots of horribly written stories.

It cannot prepare you for layoffs. And, unfortunately, it's a big part of the newspaper industry.

On Tuesday, I saw a co-worker, Beth, who had been on vacation for a week. She gave me a can of Sun Drop, a soft drink that, by looking at it, would remind you of Mountain Dew or Mello Yello. She did this after I - on Jan. 29, the day of primary elections in Florida - brought in Maine's official soft drink, Moxie. It was greeted with wrinkled noses.

Sun Drop is the Moxie of the South. It was developed in Missouri, and I know for sure you can't find it up in the Northeast, just as you can't find Moxie down here in Florida. The Sun Drop Web site says it's popular in the Southeast and that it's known as a "community drink." Pockets of popularity are scattered throughout the region.

The can was somewhat warm, and Beth warned that it had been shaken as it rode with her on her bike. Yes, she commutes with two wheels. I put it into the refrigerator.

"Sun Drop is best when chilled," Beth said in a Facebook message later.

By now, you're wondering what a sweet drink has to do with bitter newspaper layoffs. Beth was laid off a matter of minutes after she gave me the can, and I never had a chance to taste the soda before she left.

The least I owe her is a critique.

Sun Drop is packed with caffeine, but it doesn't taste like caffeine, as Mountain Dew does. Instead, it has a natural citrus flavor from the orange juice concentrate listed in its ingredients. Other components include high fructose corn syrup, which gets an undeserved bad rap, and glycerol of ester wood rosin, which pulls all the citrus flavors together. Mmm mmm.

It's incredibly sweet - unlike the bitter Moxie - but the impressive orange flavor comes through boisterously. In the exclusive Facebook message, Beth said, "It also complements any Southern cuisine."

In the end, though, Sun Drop is deficient because it cannot dull the sting of losing a co-worker and a friend, as well as a boss. Employees throughout Gannett have the same sense of loss this week after thousands were laid off. It's consuming. It's hard to shake.

So, I will keep this can. It will remind me of good times with co-workers before the Great Layoff.


Wordnerdy said...

Awww, that's a nice review. Thanks.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. There are still three cans and a 2L bottle here. Maybe my brother will pick up more on the way down later this month.

Between Sun Drop, sweet tea and sweet barbecue sauce, it's a wonder any Southerner has any teeth at all.

Andrew Knapp said...

Yeah, I need to actually use that dental insurance.

Wordnerdy said...

I'm loading up on doctor's appointments. The dentist will see me Saturday.