Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beverage Review: CHAMPAGNE COLA (2009, United States)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Maker: Key Foods.
Home Country: United States.
Where procured: The Key Foods on Greenpoint and McGuinness in Brooklyn.

Now, Miller High Life is all about proclaiming itself to be "the Champagne of Beers," which I've always found to be a rather presumptuous slogan, and one which flits rather dangerously with hubris in the Classic sense. (Though I must admit, if I had the time and resources, I would someday very much like to build a pyramid of champagne glasses and, safely perched high above, pour Miller High Life into them from the topmost champagne glass down.) I would find it similarly presumptuous if I were to find that a soda claimed to be "the Champagne of Colas." Furthermore, if I were to locate a beverage purporting itself to be "Champagne Beer," I would find it, to use the parlance of Mr. T, completely "abso-ludicrous." So imagine my surprise when I discovered on the rusty, dusty shelves of a local grocery: "Champagne Cola." Moreover, I found that it was not presented by Henriot, Philipponnat, or Dom Pérignon, but by none other than the illustrious KEY FOODS. And on top of that, at the time of purchase, this "Champagne Cola" was available in no less than 3 LITERS at a go!

As one might be able to derive from my Food and Beverage reviews, I am never content to simply imagine what the contents might be like, but naturally have the inclination to find out for myself. Call it what you will; curiosity killing the cat, or Pandora opening the box, but by using the platform of the Food and Beverage Review, I can now at least claim that my martyrdom was for the greater good. In any event, I had to find out... and I did.

The most pressing question when delving into a carbonated beverage of significant volume is: "Which is of more importance to me- keeping it carbonated, or keeping it cold?" Room temperature can be staved off by repeated trips back to the freezer, at the expense of carbonation. De-carbonation can be staved off by hanging tough and continuing to pound it down (see this eternal question posed by the ignominous BALTIKA EXTRA 9). Three liters of Champagne Cola are no small task, even with the help of others. As the above photo may have already spoiled, I did not finish. But the photo alone does not tell the entire story- I did not finish...IN THREE MONTHS! Indeed, I allowed this half-drank beverage to sit in my refrigerator for a quarter of a year, mocking me daily for my lack of discipline. But this is not designed as an outlet for mere self-castigation. What did it taste like, you wonder? Well, if you've ever encountered the beverage "Sparks," it tastes EXACTLY like that. What of the champagne, you wonder? Well, suffice it to say that Key Foods' Champagne Cola has far more in common with Orange Marshmallow Peanuts than it does with Champagne in any of its forms. In fact, it really doesn't have a lot to do with "Cola," either, being more consistent with a Lemon-Lime/Orange soda than anything approximating Cola. So it exists as a mislabeled enigma, perhaps fully realized only in the fever dreams of its makers. There's really no more to say about it.

In closing, a little bit of research reveals that "Cola Champagne" is rather popular in the Spanish-speaking world. Perhaps Key Foods' Champagne Cola is somehow related; or, at the very least, attempting to cash in on this lucrative market.

And, an even more disturbing facet that my research unveiled was that "Champagne Candy" is becoming popular amongst the "wedding crowd."

Presumably it has more to do with Champagne the bubbly French beverage than Champagne the Cola, though if this affair has taught me anything, it is that nothing involving champagne can (or, indeed, should) be truly taken for granted.

-Sean Gill

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