Day 052: Bev of the Week – Faygo Arctic Sun
The front room always reeked of onions. That never made much sense to me, for many reasons. For starters, onions usually don’t have much of a scent until they’re cut. When they’re whole, they really don’t have the power to overtake a whole room. Also, the small room contained a washer and dryer. You would think that the room would smell of detergent and dryer sheet, but that was never the case. Just onions. Always onions. The same went for the kitchen. It always smelled like chicken soup. I would like to assume that my Grandma didn’t make chicken soup every day, but it definitely smelled like it.
I’m sure that my mind has a nostalgia bias. But even as a kid, I found the smells to be oddly consistent. About as consistent as us always coming to visit just before 7:00. I’d take a seat on the couch or the living room floor, depending on the company. Dan Rather would always be on TV when we got there, giving us the hard news that I didn’t fully understand. I could follow the local news. That’s just a bunch of fluff about places that I’ve been before. But when Dan Rather would talk about countries I’ve never heard of, my interest waned.
Luckily, it never lasted long. We would all soon be serenaded by the familiar and comforting Jeopardy! theme. Grandpa’s favorite show. And even though I was way too young to know any of the answers, it was a great spectator game. Especially since Grandpa usually had the answers before the contestants on TV did. Not only was he able to answer questions rapid fire, he did so with a laser focus. Grandma would gab on and on with her stepdaughters and it never distracted him one bit. He was in his own little world and I always loved existing inside of it.
Usually, during a commercial break, Grandpa would run out of pop. Sometimes, I’d run into the onion room to fetch him a new 2 liter. His first bev of choice that I could remember was Arctic Sun. It was a lemon-lime soda made by Faygo that had a hint of grapefruit in it. It wasn’t over-powering like Squirt, but it had just enough to distinguish it from Sprite/Slice/7-Up/Sierra Mist. The bottle was also a thing to behold. It had really bold action lettering that just screamed 1992. The bottle was blue, but the bev itself was crystal clear. I always found that to be awesome. It was literally the only pop with a blue bottle. Accompanied with a ton of ice, preferably in a plastic mug, it was a truly refreshing bev. Grandpa was a man of good taste and he passed on his bev palette to me. He never had to say it, but I knew he was living his best life. Sitting in his rocking chair, surrounded by his daughters and grandchildren, answering questions that nobody else is even listening to and sipping on a perfect Arctic Sun.
As the years went on, some things changed. I got older and pretended to be wiser, making more of an effort to answer the Jeopardy! questions, even if they were wrong. Grandpa’s hearing got a little worse, so he’d have to turn up the TV as a hint for the girls to talk softer. Arctic Sun was discontinued in the mid-90s. He had to switch to Faygo Twist. Then it was 7-Up. Then back to Faygo Twist. By the time he passed, he was a Sierra Mist guy. I found it interesting that he never drank Sprite. I guess he didn’t like the idea of “obeying thirst”. He was his own master, he didn’t have to obey anyone or anything. Or at least that’s what I’d like to think.
My visits became a lot more infrequent. I regrettably was too busy and too far away to visit as much as I wanted to. But when I did, the front room always smelled like onions, the kitchen reeked of chicken soup and Grandpa was always parked him his rocker watching Jeopardy!, with a big mug of icy lemon-lime pop resting on a neatly folded paper towel. If I close my eyes, I can take myself back there again. I do it whenever I get homesick.
In 2017, Faygo re-released Arctic Sun. They kept the retro label and even the signature blue bottle. Whenever I drive to Michigan, I always make sure to smuggle a few 2 liters back home. I hope that wherever Grandpa is, they also have it there. Last night, I had a frosty glass of it and imagined him doing the same thing. Sitting in his creaky rocker in the sky, waiting for a new episode of Jeopardy! while Grandma’s face is buried in a word search. It’s been 6 years since he’s seen a new episode. He won’t have to wait much longer.