17 Jun

Pucker Power

Note: Well, the video above has been set to private till further notice, following recent findings that some brands of kombucha, fermented as it is, contains   a bit more alcohol than is probably safe for a child’s consumption. That’s too bad, on several counts–for the industry and for the video which, although it’s an early Broccoli and Banana, has some great lines, including–in our house–the oft quoted plaintive “no more so-da?” Pretend you’ve seen it before reading the following:

At our house we average a liter of “diet brown” soda a day. Debby says it beats the taste of our filtered tap water but she and I know we drink it out of habit. So last Saturday, taking our cue from high-browed Broccoli and his winsome sidekick Banana, Noah, 11, Sophie, 5, and I headed to Winco for some soda-replacement in the form of kombucha. (Debby had left for Dragon Boat team practice and was too far away to question our motivation.)

On the way well read Noah explained that kombucha, as you know,  originated in the 1001 Nights as a magical elixir drank by djinn. “Genies!” squeaked Sophie and giggled, nailing Banana’s voice from the video. And the next ten minutes turned into kombucha Marco Polo, Noah intoning “Kombucha” in his most ominous 11 year old voice while Sophie echoed “Genie!” Yeah, I was glad to see Winco.

We didn’t recall ever seeing kombucha at Winco (our weekly grocery stop with Costco), but when we asked a clerk, he pointed us knowingly toward the back wall of cold beverages, where it bordered the natural foods department. And there it was: the rainbow wall of kombucha. Fellow shoppers, a man and a woman, were scratching their heads over the selection, picking up one bottle after another, swirling the contents around and reading the labels. Noah quickly selected raspberry; Sophie, ginger. “I like ginger,” she proclaimed and set her bottle in the cart. “But not broccoli,” she warned me. “Check,” I said, “no fizzy broccoli drinks.”

“You know,” I said to the other two adults, “I’ve never seen this here before. It’s like it just appeared.”

Noah piped up, “I told you, Dad, it’s a maaagical elixir.”

The man snorted and the woman laughed a little. She said, “I think it’s like when you buy a car–all of a sudden you see cars just like your’s on the road when you can’t remember seeing them before.”

I asked if they’d ever tried it. I told them the Internet had sent us here to try kombucha instead of soda.

“My mom drinks too much diet brown,” Sophie warned them.

“Don’t we all,” said the man, smiling.

I picked a random bottle of plain kombucha–whatever flavor plain was–thinking there should be a control sample in our little experiment. As we turned to go, the woman whispered, “I didn’t want your kids to hear, but when my 8 year old tried it, I thought his face was going to turn inside out. Small sips.”

Great. $9 and 3 bottles later, home we went, my kids innocent to the pickled puckered fate that awaited them. Me grumbling to myself about the hit on our shopping budget. Then remembering the garbage bags of 2 liter soda bottles in the garage. And kicking myself for not returning them to pay for the kombucha. Oh well, being a parent is a constant game of catch up, and shrugging off yesterday to maintain sanity today.

At home I pointed to the label warning that read Do Not Shake Contents Vigorously. “You’ll awaken the djinni,” warned Noah. “Volcano!” squeaked Sophie.

Long story short, we tried small sips of ginger and raspberry kombucha. After I pulled Noah’s lower lip out of his mouth, we decided that maybe kombucha tasted better to grownups. “It smells like beer,” grumbled Noah. Sophie didn’t think she could try it again for twenty years, her current number for a future too distant to imagine. I kind of liked it–a little puckery, odor like fruit cooking, and a smacky aftertaste. I might drink it once in awhile.

So, kombucha, at our house, adults 1, kids 2. But they tried something new. And if we keep it around, maybe they’ll try it again in a few years. Maybe even sooner, they’ll sneak into it with their friends during a sleepover after we’re asleep. I’m all for stealth nutrition.

When Debby returned from practice, red-faced and tired, she was ready for a rejuvenating sip of something. She took a healthy swallow from the remaining bottle of plain-flavored kombucha, screwed up her face, and asked the kids, “So, who’s up for making exploding kombucha bread?”

Noah and Sophie whooped and raced off to the garage. Any excuse to wear safety goggles.

This was a “Voice of Dad” blog entry written for broccoliandbanana.com. We’re rethinking some of the site’s features, so I’m reposting some of my entries here.

3 thoughts on “Pucker Power

  1. Kurt,
    I seem to have missed previous mentions of B&B.com. Is it something I should recommend to my friends with the 2yr old kid?

  2. You could recommend it to someone with a 2 yo, although it’s probably better for kids 4 on up, and it’s intended primarily for middle schoolers. (although my manager’s 2 yo loves Banana, who is the child partner of the duo). B&B is a skunkworks project we’re using as a test bed for different ideas at Aisle7 (my employer), having fun, and generating a little creative juice in unused areas. It’s the brainchild of our creative director, auGi (he’s a standup comic and improv actor, also)–I’m providing web and writing support along with general idea generation, so far).

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