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The Helena Arkansas Daily World - Helena, AR
  • Random Thoughts: The flavors of summer

  • Like Baskin-Robbins ice cream, there must be 31 flavors of summer.
    Summertime 2013 is rapidly winding down. Thoughts of returning to the classroom and the football field replace those carefree days of sleeping late and playing baseball in the late afternoon and early evening. And the crisp autumn temperatures and colorful falling leaves will gradually replace the summer heat.
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  • Summertime 2013 is rapidly winding down. Thoughts of returning to the classroom and the football field replace those carefree days of sleeping late and playing baseball in the late afternoon and early evening. And the crisp autumn temperatures and colorful falling leaves will gradually replace the summer heat. During those summer days before a young man's fancy turned to combing the beaches and swimming pools to check out the girls in their latest swimming attire, one of the most enjoyable moments of summer were those trying out the latest thirst-quenching treats. As the summer wore on, the liquid intake would rise. My earliest recollections of summertime drinks dates back to the late 1950s. My neighbor's dad managed a local dairy. On more than one occasion, he would bring us home grape and orange drinks and lots of chocolate milk. The drinks came in small half-pint glass bottles and came straight from the dairy's icehouse. What a treat on a hot summer's day! Double Cola, RC Cola and Orange Crush were frequently served during intermissions at Vacation Bible School. For a week, we kids were allowed an extra soft drink during the course of the day. When I was growing up, soft drinks were a real treat. We didn't get a Coke with our noon sandwich or our evening meal. It was orange juice for breakfast and tea for the evening meal. Kool-Aid was a special treat that Mom served the neighborhood youngsters following a long, hot day of baseball in the backyard. She served them in tin canisters with ice that made the Kool-Aid so cold it hurt your teeth. Frequently, during the summer, our next-door neighbor would throw a small watermelon party. Of course, watermelon doesn't fall under the heading of a soft drink but it certainly qualified as thirst-quenching refreshment. I never really understood why salt made watermelon sweeter and everything else salty. Had to be carefully with those seeds, after all you didn't want a watermelon growing inside you. I recall the summer that Mountain Dew became the soft drink fad. Originally a slang term for moonshine whiskey, the soft drink gained national attention when Pepsi Cola bought the rights and began promoting it with cartoon character Willy the Hillbilly and the slogan “Ya-Hoo! Mountain Dew. It'll tickle yore innards.” Kickapoo Joy Juice soon followed but never achieved the success of Mountain Dew. The inspiration for this citrus-flavored soft drink came from the comic strip Li'l Abner, which was also reportedly a reference to a moonshine beverage. These drinks came along in the mid-1960s and revolutionized the concept of colas in the U.S. market. Somewhere along the line I forgot to mention some of my other summertime refreshments including NuGrape, lemonade and of course, what summer would be complete without ice cream. NuGrape was simply the best grape drink available and you just couldn't beat old-fashioned lemonade as a thirst quencher. Part of our summers were spent chasing down the ice cream man, who made his rounds on a regular basis during the months of June, July and August. His menu ranged from fudge sickles to orange push-ups to just plain vanilla ice cream cones. Our moms were health conscious, even then. They limited our intake of the sugar-laden products. But like everything else things have changed. Kool-Aid and lemonade have been replaced by bottled water and ice cream has been replaced by yogurt. I don't recall being terribly unhealthy as a child despite the treats. Heck, whatever bad stuff went into our bodies we ran it off with plenty of play and exercise. I don't think that I'll ever forget those fun-flavored days of summer.
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