It all began with a can of Squirt.
I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly how old I was. Maybe somewhere between four to five years old. I was in the car with my dad on the road to one of his favorite destinations, a small town in Kansas called Miltonvale. He used to hang out with this old junk dealer. We stopped at this gas station on the way that had a gas pump out front and a single pop machine. He asked me to pick out a soda. I pressed the yellow button and a can of Squirt popped out of the machine. I drank it and instantly fell in love with that refreshing citrus flavor.
Sometime later we moved to another town called Minneapolis, also in Kansas. There was this old beat up pop machine at the park by the basketball court my sisters and I used to hang out at with our friends.
We discovered early on if you hit it real hard on the side sometimes it would dispense a free soda. Not always but it worked enough we put many dents in the side of the machine trying to get that elusive freebie.
This machine, if I remember correctly, was a Coke machine. It alas did not carry the Squirt my taste buds had grown accustomed. Instead I had to decide between Dr. Pepper, Coke, or Sprite. I opted for Sprite and instantly spit it out. It tasted like that nasty fizz mom gave me when I had a stomachache.
Then a few years of drinking Shasta pop go by and my parents started buying 12 packs of soda to keep in the fridge. As their incomes increased, and likewise our soda budget, they started letting us kids pick our favorite soda. Unfortunately Squirt must have been hard to find so I opted for the next best thing the Pepsi Cola produced citrus drink known as Mountain Dew. It was a far cry from the zesty pizzazz of a delicious Squirt, but it was strangely satisfying in its own way. By this time we were living back in Miltonvale once again. Now I was in 6th grade and my memories become much clearer from this point out.
We still had that same old gas station with the single pump and yes the same old can dispensing pop machine as before but now it was pushing out Pepsi products instead of whichever off brand sold Squirt as before. I distinctly remember thinking I must have imagined Squirt. In my mind I determined it must have been a name change or something like a knock off similar to Mountain Mist. And so my love affair with Squirt ended and I found a new sweetie to douse my taste buds in. The liquid nectar known as Mountain Dew.
I would continue to drink nothing but this green treat from the Heavens well into high school. I drank so much of it in fact my friends used to tease me saying I must bleed green. That was until the day Pepsi released Code Red Mountain Dew which as been, to this day, my sugary beverage of choice for the most part.
Then a few years ago I was in Nebraska and came across a gas station that sold cans of Squirt. I decided to buy one for old times sake and see if it would tickle my senses as before. Sure enough it was as refreshing as my faded memories led me to believe.
On rare occasion I will pass up on a Mountain Dew for that other yellow drink. Of course I left out a key component to the story, why I left Squirt behind in the first place. That’s right Mellow Yellow. In fact if memory serves the reason I bought a Squirt in the first place was because the machine didn’t have Mellow Yellow and I bought what was, at the time in my mind, the next best thing.
I have tried them all. Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow, Squirt, Fresca and they all get the job done.
In descending order my preference for citrus sodas is Mellow Yellow, Mountain Dew, Squirt and then Fresca. I avoid the Lemon Lime junk at all costs. This is especially frustrating when at a restaurant and they server offers a 7Up or Sprite when I ask for Mountain Dew. It seems to me like Mountain Dew certainly has a corner on the citrus market at least outside the aforementioned lemon lime drinks, which is sad. I wish Squirt, Mellow Yellow and yes even Fresca had a greater presence in the marketplace. That way when I am denied my preferred citrus drink my options aren’t a seltzer determined to provoke my upchuck reflex. I also hate having to settle for a Dr. Pepper or worst of all, a cola.