Clamayto, Clamahto

27 03 2011

Don’t say it; I know.

I’ve been abandoned this blog for over three weeks now. I’m a terrible, horrible person.

Would it help if I said this has been the craziest three weeks of my life so far? No, probably not.

Well, at any rate, partly as self-punishment for taking three weeks off and partly for the entertainment value, I confronted one of my biggest fears today: Clamato juice.

I know it’s normal to some people. I know that, but I’ll never understand it. Ketchup is fine. Tomato soup is OK. Clam chowder is delicious. But mixing clams and tomatoes is just…wrong. So wrong.

In spite of my misgivings, I drank Clamato juice today. I sacrificed myself. I put myself through hell, just for you people. I hope you’re satisfied.

There are two great mysteries surrounding the juice: Whether Clamato is pronounced Clamayto or Clamahto, and why on earth anyone enjoys drinking it.

According to ChaCha, it’s pronounced Clamayto, which is awesome because that’s how I’ve always pronounced it and all these people have told me I’m saying it wrong. So there. In your face, all those people.

As for the second mystery, that’s what I was about to find out. Maybe.

With everything I try, I always figure someone, somewhere out there likes it. It’s what keeps me going when I’m faced with things like green pepper jelly and beet cookies. And it’s what helps me sleep at night afterward, despite my indigestion-induced nightmares.

Remember how I have this weird habit of smelling food before I try it? Well, I opened the bottle of Clamato juice, stuck my nose right up to the opening, took a big whiff — and nearly passed out. Don’t try this at home. If you’re going to smell Clamato juice for whatever reason, keep your distance in the process. If you’re a kidnapper or an aspiring kidnapper, this might actually come in handy. I mean, this stuff’s way cheaper than chloroform, and it pretty much has the same effect on people.

Holding my breath (yes, really), I poured myself a glass of the bright red, foul-smelling liquid. “Are you ready for this?” I asked my family, who were all watching in anticipation. (I did say entertainment value, didn’t I?) I’m not sure they were ready, and I know I sure wasn’t, but I threw back a hearty gulp anyway.

There are no words.

Nothing in the English language exists that is horrible enough to describe the taste of Clamato juice. It was like something had died and sat marinating in it for days. A clam, probably. Or many clams.

It was like watery clam chowder without all the milky goodness that makes up clam chowder…so really, just the clamminess. That, and slightly spicy tomato soup. Oh, and maybe some vinegar thrown in for good measure.

It smelled better than it tasted, which is normally not the case with any kind of strange food I try. If something smells like dead clams in ketchup, and it smells better than it tastes, you know you’ve got a problem.

In short, it tasted the same going down as it probably would coming back up. Or will. My stomach’s not feeling so good anymore.

I have a question for all of you insane, Clamato-loving people out there: What’s wrong with you? How do you do it? How on earth does this stuff taste good to you? Or is it really more of a masochistic method of proving your invulnerability to things that taste like death? Be honest with me, because I’m genuinely curious. And I can’t decide if your enjoyment of this stuff inspires awestruck respect or utter disgust in me. Maybe a little bit of both.

I’m going to leave you all with today’s lesson in the form of a simple mathematic equation:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go brush my teeth for the tenth time.


Ingredients: Water, tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate, salt, citric acid, onion powder, celery seed, ascorbic acid (to maintain color), garlic powder, dried clam broth, spices, vinegar, natural flavors and Red 40.
Price: $2.99 at Fry’s
Pros: It’s red. I like red. Red is one of my favorite colors.
Cons: You’re better off just eating rotting clams and washing them down with ketchup and vinegar. It probably tastes better.

The Fountain of Youth in a can

11 02 2011

For whatever reason, people always think I’m younger than I am. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I hear, “So are you 15 or 16?” or “What year of high school are you in?” I’ll be 20 this year, thank you very much, and technically I’m a junior. In college.

People tell me I’ll appreciate it when I’m 50. I guess so.

And as it turns out, in the event that my eternal youth proves to be not-so-eternal, there’s apparently a canned drink that will restore it.

It’s called “Self,” which seems narcissistic at best and redundant at worst, but I’ll roll with it. I found it at Sprouts among the “healthy energy drinks” and all that other stuff that may or may not work (but probably doesn’t).

It’s produced by Hansen’s, which makes those amazing all-natural sodas that I love so much … so that in itself made the drink sound promising.

They market it as a “beauty elixir,” which reminded me of wizards and alchemy and didn’t help quite as much with the promising factor.

There were three flavors on the shelf — tropical bliss, pink lemonade and blushing berry — and I went with blushing berry because it sounded the most cryptic. I mean, what kind of berries are we talking about … and why are they blushing, exactly?

The side of the can reads, “Revitalize your inner beauty with a sexy blend of exotic berries, botanical extracts, nutrients and antioxidants!” I’m not sure how berries can be sexy, but I was intrigued nonetheless.

I opened it up and poured it into a glass (after giving the pretty blue tab to my little sister to put in her shoelace … I’m honestly not sure why). “Blushing” was a good adjective after all — the juice had a pale pink color like … I don’t know, embarrassed water or something. It actually looked a little gross.

But when I took a sip, I was pleasantly surprised.

It reminded me of raspberry lemonade somehow, which doesn’t make much sense because there’s no lemon in it, but it had the same sweet-and-sour taste.  The aftertaste wasn’t so great, though: a couple of seconds after taking a sip, I could tell for certain that the juice was made with Sucralose. A quick glance at the ingredients confirmed it.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t buy into the whole chemical-sugar-substitute thing. Give me pure cane juice any day, but keep Splenda away from me. I can taste a difference, and it’s not a good thing. Sucralose, to me, tastes nothing like sugar — and I’m not a fan of chemical substitutes to begin with.

On the plus side, the drink does contain natural flavors, lots of juice concentrates, green tea extract and other extracts that are apparently chock-full of antioxidants. (It also has only 35 calories in the whole can — thanks to the Sucralose, I’m sure.)

I suppose all this could technically make you look younger … or at least more revitalized and rejuvenated (it’s Big Word Day), but I’m not sure I’m buying into it. It tastes OK, it contains some good stuff … but I’d rather drink water and eat a banana every day, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do to keep the wrinkles away. This juice might be a better alternative to lemonade or soda, but I don’t think it’s exactly what Juan Ponce de León was looking for.


Ingredients: An infusion of reverse-osmosis water; apple juice concentrate; natural flavors; citric acid; vitamin E; ascorbic acid (vitamin C); blackberry, blueberry, red raspberry, strawberry and cranberry juice concentrates; fruit and vegetable extract (for color); Sucralose; acerola extract; chamomile flower extract; vitamin A; zinc sulfate monohydrate; niacinamide (vitamin B3); green tea extract; D-calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5); cocoa powder extract; vitamin B6; açai concentrate; mangosteen extract; pomegranate concentrate; biotin; selenium; vitamin B12.
Price: $1.49 at Sprouts.
Only 35 calories per can; lots of antioxidants; tastes … decent.
Cons: Sucralose. Yuck.

Smurf juice

16 10 2010

When I see a gallon jug, I usually expect it to be filled with milk.

But not always. Sometimes it’s filled with water, apple cider or fruit punch.

This was pretty close to fruit punch…except it was bright blue. And maybe a “blue raspberry fruit beverage” isn’t all that strange, but when it looks like someone stuck a Smurf in a juicer over a gallon jug, I’m going to question the edible (or drinkable) nature of what’s in that jug.

After lugging the gallon home, I poured some of the liquid into a glass, which seemed oddly incongruous. I felt like I should be drinking it out of a sippy cup, or at least one of those plastic restaurant cups with a squiggly straw. (Maybe it’s because if I were eight years old, I would’ve begged my mother to buy the pretty bright blue stuff as soon as I saw it.  Years later, it failed to excite me as much.)

As I lifted the glass to my lips, I was reminded of that scene in Star Wars when Obi-Wan is drinking glowing blue…something. (Yes, I’m aware this makes me a nerd, and that I probably need to…well, rethink my life.)

The liquid (I hesitate to call it juice, because it’s really not, and calling it juice reminds me of that Smurf) didn’t really taste anything like blue raspberry.  Then again, I’m not really sure what a blue raspberry tastes like, since I’ve only ever seen and eaten red raspberries, and all the “blue raspberry” flavored things I’ve consumed have essentially been sugar-flavored.  So actually, in that case, this tasted exactly like blue raspberry…because all it was was a sugary beverage with some sort of ambiguous artificial flavoring thrown in.

Now, don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t bad.  In fact, it tasted kind of like watered-down Kool-Aid. But that leaves me wondering: what’s the point of watery Kool-Aid?

The upside is the price: $1.19 for a whole gallon. So if you’re looking for a good beverage for your kid’s alien-themed birthday party — or you’re just getting tired of buying fruit punch — this is a decent option. But be warned: as far as flavor goes, you get what you pay for.

Oh, and one last note… The longer I stared at this stuff, the more it started looking like windshield washer fluid. So if you store your windshield washer fluid in a gallon jug (for whatever reason), and you’re fond of putting it in the fridge (for whatever reason), you may want to either leave this drink on the shelf or rethink your storage habits. Because you really, really shouldn’t drink windshield washer fluid. Smurf juice, though, is okay.


Ingredients: Water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, propylene glycol, natural and artificial flavors, gum acacia, potassium sorbate (preservative), neotame, Blue #1 and brominated vegetable oil.
$1.19 at Fry’s Marketplace
Pros: Great price, good kids’ drink except the sugar content (22 grams per 8 oz).
Cons: Watery, sugary, indiscernable flavor.

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts

12 09 2010

Coconut juice. In a can. With pulp.

Oh, what’s that? You’re stuck on the title? Sorry; I couldn’t resist a Lion King reference. Not when it comes to coconuts.  (Actually, the original song was written by Fred Heatherton in 1944 — fun fact of the day.)

Now where was I? Oh, right — coconut juice, in a can. With pulp. As I meandered down the soft drinks aisle, this stood out to me. Maybe it was the bright label, or the fact that the can looked like recycled drainpipe, or maybe it was simply the fact that “coconut juice” sounds a little incongruous next to all the cola and cream soda. Whatever the case, I was intrigued.

Lately I’ve seen coconut water cropping up at grocery stores and even the local Circle K. It usually comes in those little cartons, and it’s touted as a health drink. I don’t know what the difference between coconut water and coconut juice is, though a little research seems to indicate they’re equivalent. Seeing coconut juice in a can, though, with pulp (because, yes, I’m mentioning the can and the pulp once again) struck me as odd. And almost repulsive.

I refrigerated the can first (because warm coconut juice does not sound appealing), and shook it before I drank it, since it contained pulp. (I think I made the right decision, because I later noticed that the can says, “Chill and shake well before serving.”) Before drinking it, I actually poured some into a glass, just to see how it would look.

Pond water? Milk that’s been left on the counter for a few years? This might prove interesting.

I took a tentative sip and mulled it over for awhile, unsure what to think. The aftertaste was stronger than the first impression, but I couldn’t quite determine what the flavor reminded me of. I took another drink and the answer came to me: skim milk. Very, very, very skim. With pulp.

I guess it makes sense. After all, coconut milk comes from coconuts (shocking, I know) and it had to have gotten its name from somewhere. The coconut juice was also a little sweet, especially the aftertaste, even though the can said “unsweetened.” Since coconuts are debatably a fruit, this also makes some sense.

I’m still not sure how necessary the pulp was. For someone like me who can’t even eat yogurt with fruit in it, all it did was trigger my gag reflex. But it most likely strengthened the flavor of the juice, though the pulp itself seemingly had no flavor. (Because, yes, I tried it by itself.)

Maybe my taste buds are still recovering from the green pepper jelly of last week’s escapades, but the coconut juice didn’t do much for me. It was a little boring. Sort of like watered-down milk with a dash of sugar.

Amy & Brian, the company that makes the juice, also sells pulp-free and lime varieties. The coconut juice with lime actually sounds pretty good. (Though that might just be because it reminds me of the Harry Nilsson song.) I may give it try, if I can find it next time I’m meandering down the soft drinks aisle. Until then, as far as health drinks go, I think I’ll stick to plain old water.


Ingredients: Young coconut juice and coconut pulp.
$1.79 at Fry’s Marketplace
Pros: Healthy, natural alternative to sugary drinks; palatable flavor. Also alleviates hangovers, for those of you party types out there.
Cons: The taste was a little boring; it seemed to be lacking something. A flavored version of the juice (like lime) might go over better.

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