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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Blue Powerade + Diet Coke: The ultimate mocktail

One nine-hour drive, two cars, two walkie talkies, two brothers, two cousins and me. When I was a kid, my family would visit Notre Dame all the time, but for one road trip, the five of us giggled in our separate cars as we said “over?” “copy, over” at the end of every sentence until the batteries ran out. 

My family would drive down for football games, spend Easter mornings doing egg hunts by the lakes and I even had my first communion in the log chapel. My brothers and two of my cousins are all around the same age, and four of us are students here right now. Whenever we would visit, we would stay in the seminary on the far side of St. Joseph’s Lake — I might have been one of the only five year olds to know what a “seminary” is. We would split into groups of two to stay in the rooms, which in retrospect were exactly like staying in a Notre Dame dorm room (I thought having a sink in my room was the height of luxury). 

In the cafeteria of the seminary, I was amazed at how many different types of juices and cereal they had. Weirdly, Cracklin Oat Bran was my top pick over Lucky Charms, and I thought grapefruit juice was exotic. I felt like I was living large and was fully annoyed that I couldn’t be a priest too, because if I could, then my life would just be waking up to 10 different kinds of cereal and six different types of juice every day and running around the seminary with my cousins.

The basement of the seminary is a kid’s dream: a basketball court, a movie theater and a soda machine. Just like many kids do, we would mix different concoctions of sodas and think we were culinary geniuses just like Bobby Flay. The little bartenders that we were, my brothers and I would mix blue Powerade with Diet Coke (hold your gags, bear with me). We would mix up this mocktail and pretend to smoke cigars with chunky pretzel sticks. 

I had forgotten completely about this little tradition until recently when I was debating if I wanted Sprite or lemonade with dinner in the dining hall. I suddenly felt inspired to take a trip down memory lane to see how horrible this blue Powerade-Diet Coke blend actually was. Trust me, I know. The drink sounds nasty. BUT I actually loved it. Now I have been grabbing it a couple of times a week when I feel like I need a little extra sprinkle of adventure in my day. When I took my first sip of our signature drink for the first time in years, the flavor threw me back into the excitement of childhood road trips and make-believe.

It tasted like childhood. The days of playing with sidewalk chalk, trying to touch the clouds on the swingset and mixing our own soda concoctions. As school continues to get busier and busier, I find myself longing for those carefree summer days when I would spend hours pretending I was a pastry chef in my sandbox bakery in my backyard and jumping on the trampoline. 

Tonight, when you go grab dinner, give it a try! Access your inner silly. Take a risk and take a sip: maybe you’ll enjoy it. In the stress and chaos that comes with the end of the semester, it’s so important to not get bogged down by all the responsibilities that come with being in college and to make room for some utter silliness.

If you’re one of the brave, shoot me an email and let me know if it’s actually good or if I need to get my taste buds checked.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.