Sunday, August 23, 2015

Slaw Burger, Fries and a Bottle Of…

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for half a decade now but Kentucky is still home. I’m not sure absence really makes the heart grow fonder – I mean, I didn’t take The Bluegrass State for granted when I was living there – but I have discovered that I’ve never felt more hardcore Kentuckian than I do living in So. Cal. I'm all about anything that reminds me of my roots.

This week I found myself back home for the first time in a couple of years. Besides stocking up on University of Kentucky Wildcats tee shirts (I now own four – by far the most since I was eight years old and my dad ran a clothing store that did a third of its business in UK-branded merchandise) I also took the opportunity to get reacquainted with another local favorite: Ski.

At least I always thought the citrus flavored soda was local. Everyone treated it as a homegrown product when I was a kid. The Kentucky Headhunters even gave Ski a shout out in a song called “Dumas Walker” that hit number 15 on the national charts in 1990. Turns out, though, Ski only felt local because it was bottled (at least at that time) in Greensburg, Kentucky, just down the road from were the Kentucky Headhunters and I grew up. 

Ski was actually invented by a Wisconsin dude and owned by the Double Cola Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Whatever. My fellow South Central Kentuckians love, love, love them some Ski and, because of that, Ski feels like home.

I have to admit, though -- and in some eyes this is shameful -- as a kid I wasn’t a big fan. I was way more into Mountain Dew and even Mellow Yellow. Ski was a distant third in the citrus flavored soda department. But, then again, what the hell did I know? I thought doing ventriloquism was a good idea.

So when I walked up on an honest-to-goodness, real-life dedicated Ski vending machine my first evening back in my hometown—

--And I noticed that it only cost sixty cents a can (obviously this was a magical soda machine that had somehow time-traveled from 1994) I had to buy one and give Ski another shot.

Guess what? Still not my thing. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to love Ski but I didn’t. I just didn't. I think it’s because the orange flavor kind of overwhelms the other citrus in the mix. I would have guessed that, for me, more orange would be a good thing. I’m a big fan of Orange Crush, for example. But Ski just isn’t orange enough to be orange soda and it’s too orange to be a Mt. Dew substitute. As a very wise man named Mister Miyagi once said, “Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later, squish, just like grape.” Ski got squished, just like grape. And that makes me want a Grape Nehi. Think I’ll go get one. It’s not local but, then again, neither is Ski. Not really. Just don’t try to tell the locals that. Including the Kentucky honeybees. They love them some Ski.

Well, they can have it. At least they’re getting my sixty cents worth out of the deal.

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