After college, I conned my way into a job at an indie record store. I don’t know how, as I rarely listen to music (I currently have two Macklemore albums on my iPhone and around 300 podcasts). It seems like that would be a dream job for an up and coming young person. And one day a week it was because I got to work with a guy named Dave. He was a bit older than I was, loved Nick Cave, and shared my passion for soda. He may have been my first non-sexual man-crush.
The rest of the week I had to work with the manager, Mike. He was an asocial undiagnosed Asperger’s dictator with a debilitating fear of computers and looking people in the eye. He might be the only person alive who could make working in a cool music shop a miserable experience.
Anyway, Dave and I would fill the store’s six-disc CD player (remember those?) with stuff we liked at the time, him with cool hipster rockers that I was wholly unaware of, me with the Skatalites and Spaced Out: The Best of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner (so highly recommended). Then we’d sit on milk crates and plan our lunch for the day. It often featured a discussion of local eateries or fast food joints, followed by a debate of where we were going to get the best fountain soda. If we got McDonald’s (the worst fast food fountain), I’d have to make a separate stop to get Big Gulps from 7-11 (the best). If we got Wendy’s, then a stop at Taco Bell for Mountain Dews was required. I’d never met anyone who loved soda as much as I did. It was inspiring.
If I could be a connoisseur of anything, it wouldn’t be wine or coffee or tea. It would be soda. The icy fizzburn of a fountain Cherry Coke is really one of life’s greatest pleasures. I can’t get enough of the stuff.
Sadly, I haven’t ventured very far away from the familiars. I only discovered Cheerwine like three seconds ago. I’m the worst. But today I’m sampling something new: Mr. Q Cucumber Soda. I saw it at the foodie market and couldn’t resist.
Actually, the label reads “Mr. Q Cucumber Sparkling Cucumber Beverage.” Is there a difference between a soda and a sparkling beverage? I digress.
This may be the most straightforward product I’ve ever reviewed. The nosegrope is right out of the garden. If I blind smelled a bottle of Mr. Q and a slice of actual cucumber, I’m not sure I could tell the difference. For reals.
The soda feels like Sprite in my mouth. Its carbonation is similar, as is its (cane sugar) sweetness level. Maybe one or two sweet notches down. And it does indeed taste like cucumber. Not weird artificial attempt at cucumber, but actual cucumber. The “all natural” at the top of the label is certainly being worn as a badge of honor. This is a simple and elegant attempt at soda making.
The only thing I don’t like about Mr. Q is that it leaves a heavy after-ness. Not a taste, just a heavy mouth coating. Also, the bottle is smaller than average (7 ounces).
I don’t know if I’d drink this frequently, but that is not to say that it is not good. I liked this stuff. It’s authentic. I don’t think I’d put it entirely in the novelty soda category but it certainly belongs there, at least, in part. Maybe someone somewhere really gets a hankering for some cucumber fizz, but for me it was a nice break from the ordinary.
And seriously, Nimoy’s “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.”