My advice: Soda pop and ice cream

Country Roads

How much pop did you drink when you were a kid? For many of my generation the amount consumed was low… very low.

The topic came up over lunch with a cousin and her husband recently. In my parental home we never had pop. On a rare occasion when he went to Everett Thompson’s DX gas station on Saturday night to fill the car with gas and took us four boys along, our father bought us each a bottle of pop IF we behaved. That’s why it was a rare occasion.

My wife said they never had pop at her home. My cousin said she and her brother would each get a can of pop with their Sunday night supper. Her husband said he and his brother would have to share a can of pop once a week.

The conversation started with an observation that these days we consume much more soda pop than when we were kids.

(For what it’s worth, I refer to a beverage of carbonated water, flavoring and a sweet syrup as both pop and soda.)

Other than an occasional Canada Dry ginger ale, my wife prefers water and fruit juices. Me? I make sure there’s always a good supply of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi in the fridge. I drink coffee in the morning and pop in the afternoon.

I said we never had soda pop at home when I was a kid but I did not grow up pop-free.

My friends and I went pop bottle hunting and turned in the empties at the farmers’ elevator in town where we were paid a few cents for each bottle. We collected enough empty bottles to purchase a full bottle.

As a bonus, if you kept your ears open while drinking pop in the elevator office you could learn things (a lot of things) from the conversations in the office. The other day I saw a risqué joke on Facebook and remembered hearing that same joke in the elevator office at least 60 years ago. It took a little time to “get it” back then.

Thinking back, I remember progressing from fruit flavored sodas to cola. Early on the colas seemed so strong and when I burped the effervescence backed up into my nose and caused a burning sensation. At some point around age 10 or 11 I became tough enough for cola.

I learned something from the big guys. If you bought a five-cent package of Planters™ peanuts and poured them into a ten-cent bottle of cola you would have a double-treat for only 15-cents. Sucking peanuts out of a pop bottle was both tasty and challenging.

By the time Cindy and I married nearly 50 years ago we had both acquired a soda habit and kept a supply in the refrigerator. I recall a time of “economic distress” and we resorted to buying store-brand cola to save a few cents. It was better than nothing but when our financial condition improved we went back to brand-name soda.

Cindy’s favorite breakfast was a cookie and a can of Diet Coke.

That reminds me of a former frustration ̶ I have been ridiculed for drinking diet soda with ice cream. It’s all about enjoying a balanced treat. This is no longer a matter of frustration. At my age, ridicule all you want. I don’t care.

Three decades ago when I commuted between Sioux City and Creston each weekend for several months I first experienced pain caused by soda pop.

At a convenience store in Missouri Valley I saw a sign that offered a large (one-quart, I recall) cup of fountain pop for just a dollar. This was before special offers of this nature were routine. Always appreciating a bargain, I made a purchase and began sipping as I continued my journey.

I passed a rest area just a few miles from Missouri Valley and sometime later came to painfully realize the next rest area was another hour away.

Lesson learned: men of a certain age should not drink a quart of pop without a plan to get rid of it in a reasonable amount of time.

Yes, I am addicted to soda pop. Yes, I have read all the accounts of how bad soda pop is for you. No, I don’t intend to give up my pop habit. I don’t drink beer or whiskey. I don’t use illegal drugs. I don’t chase wild women (or tame women, for that matter.) Pop and ice cream are my vices.

I didn’t get enough of either as a kid. So there.

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