The process of opening a Snapple bottle—the half-hearted shake to loosen the tea leaves from the bottom, the peeling of the plastic, the twisting of the cap until its satisfying, pregnant pop—is a sense memory that’s forever linked to middle school for me, when I’d walk down Fourth Street to Strathmore Bagels and get some sustenance for drama club, or mathletes, or whatever after-school activity I’d signed up for. A few weeks ago, after spotting the company’s peach iced tea on the menu of a sushi place, I got back into the habit. Innovations in sweetening technology and other food-related sciences have caused a lot of taste memories from the pre-organic era to be completely bygone (miss u, Cinnamon Crispas), but the peach iced tea, from the pop to the last sip, had pretty much the same round sweetness that I remembered, even though the tea leaves had somehow managed to become more water-soluble over the intervening years. That first sip was a gateway drug just like it was in the late ’80s, and I’ve been sneaking bottles here and there ever since. (Although in the context of sushi orders, I tend to save them for dessert.)
In addition to the quest for the familiar, this issue features the return of Kevin Fanning to the world of beverage reviewing, which I am thrilled about because Knowledge For Thirst, the drink-consumption chronicle he produced with Josh Allen, is, straight-up, one of my favorite sites on the internet ever.