So, I thought I’d start off this new column with a quick explanation of why I wanted to start writing about bubbly colored sugar water, as well as to sort of backdate the column to include some pieces I wrote about six million years ago that really seem to fit into this whole idea.

First, the backdating.  Content-wise on this site, one of the first things that I couldn’t wait to write about on this site was my love of the 7-Eleven Slurpee, and the various related frozen soda-esque drinks that dot the landscape of fast food joints, gas stations, and convenience stores in America.  While breaking down all of the various nostalgic memories of food-related items into categories, I can’t help but notice that a few float to the top.   When I think of fast food, I think of Long John Silvers.  Favorite at-home food item as a kid = Chef Boyardee Mini Raviolis.  And when I think of my favorite drinks, Slurpees are right up there at the top.

As a kid I wasn’t really allowed to drink much soda.   Usually I was permitted my fill of Shirley Temples while dining at Red Lobster on special occasions, or whenever we hit a fast food joint, which was pretty rare.   The only exceptions were a free pass to get a Slurpee anytime we’d hit a 7-Eleven, or an Icee when we went to K-Mart. At the time I never equated frozen drinks with soda, most likely because I tended to stray from the basic Coke version of these frosty beverages in favor of whatever fruit flavor was available at the time.  But when you break it down, most of these frozen drinks are just slightly less carbonated sodas, so the series of article/reviews I did feel like they fit into the new column’s tone and content.   I’ve also written about some crazy sodas over the years, so I figured for simplicity’s sake (at least as far as making the site archives nice and neat) I’d include all of these past bits.

Now as far as why I all of a sudden have the bug to write about soda, well that came about this past November when the wife and I made out first visit to the World of Coke museum here in Atlanta.  Though I’ve lived in and around the Atlanta area for the past 20 years I never made it over to this liquid sugar shrine, and while twiddling our thumbs in boredom one weekend it finally seemed like it was time to check it out.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the museum to alleviate my boredom as it really does seem like a hokey cash-grab by one of the nations largest companies, not to mention that it was almost certain to be two or three hours of in-your-face advertising that I was paying for the privilege to sit through.

While my cynicism for the experience was more or less confirmed, I had to admit that there was a charm to the place, in particular the final stretch of the self-guided tour which consisted of a free, all-you-can-drink tasting area.  This was the section I was really looking forward to having had an inkling of what it would be like after a couple recent visits to Disney’s Epcot which houses a miniature version of this tasting room in the Future World section of the park called Club Cool.  Whereas there were only 8 flavors to choose from at Epcot, the full on World of Coke tasting area features over 60 different Coca Cola brand products.  I scoffed when the tour guide challenged everyone to try all the flavors, and then I left the museum with an intense tummy ache after only making my way through 50 off varieties.

Not being one that backs down from a stupid challenge, especially a stupid pop culture challenge, the wife and I decided to go back to the museum two weeks later determined to not only try each and every drink, but to also write up some reviews and thoughts.  You know, for content on Branded.  Anyway, after achieving this inane diabetes-inducing goal I inadvertently got soda fever and was curious about how many different varieties were peppering our local grocery and specialty stores.  100 bottles later I decided that the only way to justify the sugar intake, not to mention the expense, was to cover all of these finds for the site, hopefully jarring some interesting thoughts and observations along the way.

Next week I’m going to dive into the column proper with the first of a three part look at the insane tasting area at the World of Coke.