October 3, 2007

U Buy Me a Drank

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My family has a drinking problem. It’s not that we drink too much alcohol. It’s just that we drink too much of everything else. A trip to the mall requires at least a quart of iced tea, a trip to Starbucks, a stop for a soda at the food court, a large water bottle (filled up at the tap; we love the Earth) and a stop at Starbucks. (The second Starbucks stop was not a typo.) Since many drinks have as many (or more) calories than food, no snack food column would be complete without a look at the best beverages on the market. In other words, let’s think about what I drink.
Take, for example, a one liter bottle of seltzer. While ordinarily plain old seltzer wouldn’t be a snack, if you open that bottle (hopefully over a sink, because that stuff sprays everywhere) I’ll finish it in under a half hour. If you drink a liter of liquid in a half hour, you are full. Trust me.
I have a similar problem with my second favorite drink, iced tea. (My first love, Diet Coke, will have to wait for its own column.) Regardless of the size, I will drink an entire thing of iced tea as quickly as possible. So if you put an iced tea in front of me, I’ll gulp it down. And if I am at a restaurant, I’ll gulp it down until the waiter stops bringing me refills. Being from the north, I shy away from sweet tea, which is rumored to contain more sugar than actual water or tea. I prefer mine unsweetened, for a crisp refreshing drink.
Of the big name-brand iced teas, I’m an Arizona guy. I love their green tea, I love their giant 99 cent cans and above all I love their Arnold Palmers. The black and white can, the classic mix of lemonade and iced tea, and most of all, the shady brown paper bag that makes the train conductor nervous. When my sister was six, she called those bags “Snapple bags.” Sorry Sis, as you have most likely found out by now, those bags are primarily for drinking booze during the day.
Don’t tell Snapple, but I’ve got a plan that’s going to make me rich as hell one day. In my wine cabinet at home I have stored a sealed, full bottle of “Final Fruit Fireworks.” The last Snapple of the Millennium! That’s right; I have been saving a limited edition Snapple for eight years. You laugh now, but in 42 more years, that Snapple is going to be worth at least five times its original value.
Bottled water is a hot topic in the news, because nobody wants to talk about real issues. (I have a snack food column in the newspaper.) Some people think it is a waste of natural resources to ship empty plastic bottles to Fiji, fill them with tap water, ship them back to America, put them on trucks, drive them to supermarkets, refrigerate them, and then sell them. Those people don’t understand how cool a Fiji water bottle looks in your Facebook pictures. Fiji is such a strong brand that I use my old bottle as a Nalgene. Does the water taste the same? Yes. Does the water bottle make me cool? Yes. It’s a win for everyone.
When it comes to drinkable snacks, the milkshake is high on my list. Ice Cream + Milk + I can use a straw + Whipped cream = One healthy treat. How does this formula equal one healthy treat you may ask? Simple, just use the Dave Arpen formula for healthy snacks. (That’s a shout out to my Dad’s college roommate.) “If one component of a snack is healthy, the entire snack is healthy.” My favorite shakes are the Dolce de Leche at Häagen-Dazs or a cookies and cream shake from Ben & Jerry’s. I have also taken the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour three times, if you are ever in Vermont, you should check it out! (Spoiler Alert: Free samples at the end!)
If you feel a little old for straight milkshakes, you can always get a grown up milkshake, a.k.a a Frappuccino from Starbucks. This snack has the added bonus of coming with coffee, the second most amazing thing ever created by man (shout out to Penecillin.)
Speaking of coffee, Starbucks, and iced tea, my favorite place to get iced coffee is Dunkin’ Donuts. A large Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee packs enough caffeine to kick your ass into next week. I remember the first time I had an iced coffee from Dunkin’. It was on a dare. My friend said, “You’re the most hyperactive kid I know, do you want to drink some coffee?” It was turbo-charged love at first sip. I am older and wiser now, so I know that a large from Dunkin’ is, by any measure, more than one serving of coffee. The only way I can drink an entire large is if I need to stay up all night, or I am at home and Dunkin’ is the only thing open.
This is my 15th column, and I’m just scratching the surface. It’s almost Halloween so get ready for the second annual “Charlie Niesenbaum Candy Round Up!” Have a suggestion, or a new favorite candy? E-mail me! Niesenbaum@gmail.com