Sunday, August 20, 2006

Carbonated Fusion Beverage

My first reaction to the idea of Coca-Cola’s new “carbonated fusion beverage” Blak was “Blech! Coke infused with coffee? That sounds revolting.” But a fraction of a second later I thought, “Hmmmm. It might be kind of good.” I’m not a big Coke-head. I crave Coke only about once a year, but I decided that the next time that Coke craving hit, I’d get a Blak instead of a Coke.

That day was today. B and I were sitting in the bleachers at PGE Park watching the Portland Beavers rout the Salt Lake City Bees. No doubt after a beer and a bag of peanuts, we were both a tad drowsy and dehydrated. B casually mentioned that we might just walk over to Fred Meyer after the game and get one of those Blak things. I was all for it.

Freddie’s does not carry Blak. Go figure.

But the seed was planted. I had to have one. We found a supply of Blak at a Shell station, where incidentally, you can also get a liquid version of a Three Musketeers bar or a Milky Way bar. Instant diabetes.

Anyway, I’m not sure whether to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to Blak.

It’s actually kind of tasty. It manages to balance both the Coke flavor and the coffee flavor pretty well, the net result being that it tastes like toffee. I’m definitely not sleepy anymore either, so it must have a jolt or two more caffeine than regular old Coke.


An 8 oz bottle costs $1.49. Pretty spendy. It is not thirst quenching in the least. In fact, before I finished the bantamweight bottle, I had to pour myself a giant glass of ice water to counter the thirstifying effects of the carbonated fusion beverage. This may be because it’s really sweet. So sweet that if you aren’t able to drink a giant glass of water simultaneously and/or brush your teeth immediately, your teeth will feel like they’ve sprouted peach fuzz. Not only does Blak contain high-fructose corn syrup, it’s actually got a smidgen of aspartame in it—enough to impart that unpleasant aspartame aftertaste.

Anyway, that's my review of Blak. But now that I’ve articulated my impressions, it looks like the cons vastly outweigh the pros. So, I guess that means thumbs down to Blak. It’s only real merit is that it perked me out of my groggy state, but a good cup of coffee would have done that as would have regular old Coke.

In other news, Mount Hood is on fire. It has been for a couple of weeks now. Not all of it is in flames, of course, but the fires are bad enough that Mount Hood and the entire Hood River Valley are shrouded in a ghostly (and ghastly) haze of smoke. B and I took a hike north of Mount Hood yesterday. Here’s what Mount Hood looked like from the summit of Chinidere Mountain.

Mt. Hood from Chinidere Mountain

We could actually see smoke billowing up from where some of the fires were burning. For comparison, here’s what the view would look like if there weren’t any fires. Spectacularly beautiful.

Here’s the smoke-filled Eagle Creek valley (also taken from the top of Chinidere Mountain).

Eagle Creek Valley

I’m pretty bummed out by the fires. True, they were started by lightning, and fire is a natural part of forest ecology, but about 1,400 acres are burning right now and though attempts are being made to contain the fires, they keep spreading. Many of my favorite trails in the Mount Hood Wilderness and the Badger Creek Wilderness are closed. And it’s likely that the fires will burn until the fall rains start. And after that, who knows what will happen? The Bush Administration is always very keen to move in and do “salvage logging” after fires instead of letting the forest recover naturally. A sneaky trick for getting in and clear-cutting the few remaining forests that are supposed to be protected as wildlife habitat and recreation areas. It sucks.


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