The Faygo Imbroglio or Why I’m Not Very Good at Being a Michigander

“Why the hell do you people drink something that looks like Easter egg dye and tastes like you dropped a cough drop sucker into a bottle of battery acid?” I wheezed as I-

Actually, before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this one. Chronology, background, context, all that jazz. You know how it goes, galleons.

When I first entered MSU, I had these moments where I felt like I was adrift in a strange land. 1000 miles away from where I grew up, I suddenly found myself trying to learn the rules of Euchre (which I did learn, but it doesn’t really matter, seeing as I find the game incredibly stupid and never play it), shopping at Meijer and Kroger for the first time, trying to get someone to explain to me what the everloving fuck “Sweetest Day” was (why yes, Virginia, there is a holiday even dumber than Valentine’s Day). But it was the Redpop that really threw me.

There is no Faygo out west. We had Shasta (turns out, they are both owned by the same company… and are both equally shitty discount soda). I’m fairly certain Shasta has some sort of strawberry soda, but I don’t know if I had it as a kid (and if I did, it was apparently underwhelming). I can tell you that there is no real fuss made over any disturbingly red carbonated beverages where I grew up. But those first few months at MSU, I kept hearing people extolling the virtues of this fucking Redpop.

I had no goddamn idea what they were talking about.

It wasn’t until a little student function that I learned the answer. Refreshments included a wide array of Faygo flavors, and as my roommate poured herself a cup of something that looked like a video game health potion, I poked hesitantly at the bottle and asked about it. The ladies around me starting exclaiming, filling a red plastic cup with the potentially radioactive substance and shoving it into my hand before I could utter a word.

Apparently, I just “had to try this stuff.” So I did.

It was caustic and too sweet, and I nearly spat the stuff all over the tittering females. Needless to say, I was unimpressed with the godly Redpop. My still full cup managed to find its way unceremoniously into the trash, and I remained that weird outsider from across the Mississippi.

But now I was an outsider with knowledge. Knowledge that Redpop is fucking disgusting.

Which brings us to today, when my coworker bought a bottle of that same sickly strawberry soda for lunch. I wrinkled my nose at it as he set it on the table, causing him to turn to me in question. When told I find Redpop abhorrent, he (and the others at the table) proceeded to wail and complain. How on earth could someone not love this ambrosia, this nectar of the cheap soda gods?

Tired of listening to this (because it was really getting in the way of me reading my book), I said I was willing to give it another shot. With an eagerness I’ve only seen on the faces of extremely stupid puppies, he pushed the bottle across the table to me.

I sat there for a moment, staring at the bottle. It was just as unnaturally red as I remembered, a start contrast against the white table. There it sat. Redpop. My great foe.

Mustering my courage (and steeling my stomach), I unscrewed the cap. Immediately, I could smell the saccharine-yet-vaguely-acidic stench that I remembered from my first experience with the stuff all those years ago. I glanced balefully up at my coworkers once, then took a swig.

“Why the hell do you people drink something that looks like Easter egg dye and tastes like you dropped a cough drop sucker into a bottle of battery acid?” I wheezed as I sputtered and choked down the hellish liquid. Everyone at the table laughed as I made faces and grabbed my own drink, trying to wash the taste of mania and regret from my mouth. The taunting went on for a while, but the aftertaste of that burning death drink lingered far longer than their laughter.

Also, I actually cared about the Redpop flavor. Because it was all up in my mouth, causing me grief, being awful and all. There even came a point when all I could wish for was a quick death of all my taste buds- anything to get that foul taste out of my mouth.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that Redpop is fucking disgusting, and I don’t know how anybody drinks it.

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