I don’t eat corn. I do, however, eat processed food, which means that 95% of my calories come from corn in one form or another. Generally high-fructose corn syrup, but occasionally from plain ol’ corn syrup, just like grandma used to use to artificially sweeten her mass-produced food with!
So I generally try to drink non-HFCS soft drinks when possible. I do it partly out of a pathetic attempt to maintain something approaching a healthy lifestyle (“I’d like the bucket of chicken-flavored lard flakes covered in ranch dressing, please. Wait. Better make that thousand island dressing. Watching the weight.”), but also because sodas sweetened with cane sugar do tend to taste better. Jones makes great cane sugar sodas, and Boylan’s Cane Cola may be my all-time favorite cola, which I’d link to, if Boylan’s didn’t have a crappy flash-intensive website. Hey Boylan’s? 2002 called. They want their website design aesthetic back! Burn! Oh, and me? David Spade called. He wants this joke back. Because, you know, he’s David Spade. He doesn’t have a whole lot left.
There are two non-HFCS soft drinks I’d avoid, however: Maine Root and Deerfield Park Premium Sodas.
I worry about bad natural sodas. It’s like when you have a television show you love. You try to get other people into the show, and when you finally sit a friend down and make him watch an episode, it turns out to be the worst episode of the entire series. “I mean,” you say apologetically, “it’s normally better than that. That wasn’t the best episode, but trust me, it’s really really great.” Your friend smiles, tight-lipped, and nods. He will never watch any more of that great show, because that one episode turned him off the entire experience.
I worry that a bad natural soda can do the same thing, sending the unwary fleeing back to the hyper-sweetened (and cheaper) land of HFCS sodas.
Maine Root Root Beer
I found Maine Root sodas in a bodega in Bushwick, Brooklyn. They had a variety of flavors, including Blueberry and Pumpkin Pie. I went for the Root Beer, because it has that pleasant double “root” in the title: Maine Root Root Beer. How can you go wrong with that? And it’s root beer, the tastiest of all root-based beverages. (In your face, Rutabaga Juice!)
Let me make this quick: Maine Root Root Beer initially has a sharp, Barq’s like taste. That, however, quickly fades into an unpleasant, taint-esque aftertaste.
Deerfield Park Orange Cream
I grabbed this at a Walgreen’s in St. Marks Place, in Manhattan. No HFCS, around $2. What I didn’t realize until after I purchased a bottle of Orange Cream is that Deerfield Park is Walgreen’s in-house brand. It tastes of Walgreens: bland and unfilling. It has a vague orange taste, covered up by a bland, overly sweet vanilla.