31 Days of Junk: Skeleteens Black Lemonade (#10)

Last October (2017), I made it a goal to drink 31 different beers—a new one each day—by the end of the month. Incredibly, I was successful in my attempt, which I dubbed #31FallBeers (look it up on any form of social media!) This year, I wanted to try something similar, but there were two important changes I needed to make. Firstly, I wanted to be able to expound more, so I decided against social media blurbs in favor of long-form posts on my site. Second: it needed to be much, much cheaper than drinking 31 different beers. The result? #31DaysOfJunk. Strap in and hold on tight, and please enjoy this month-long odyssey into the sugary, fatty belly of the autumnal beast.

Sometime in my youth, I discovered The Skeleteens line of sodas. It was at our local Spencer’s Gifts (at the mall, of course) where I found their soft drinks; drinks with names like “Love Potion #69”, “Brainwash”, and “Black Lemonade”. With their jagged, hand-written lettering, and labels adorned with illustrated skeleton parts, I couldn’t pass them up. I was, after all, almost 13-years-old—the magic age for this type of shit.

There they sat, in my room, up on a shelf, displayed for all visitors to see, right alongside a Michael Myers mask, a lava lamp, a pair of drumsticks, and a few bowling pins I’d spraypainted silver. What can I say, I was a weird kid.

Years later (and I do mean years), I decided, for whatever reason, to finally crack them open and try them. Curiosity had gotten the best of me. I wanted to keep the bottles, but I didn’t want to waste the (possibly spoiled) soda, so I took a swig from each bottle. What can I say, I was a weird kid.

Flash forward literally 20 years. I am walking through The Farmers Market in Los Angeles when, to my utter astonishment, I see a bottle of The Skeleteens Black Lemonade through the window of a soda shop; up on a shelf, gathering dust, like the one I had all those years ago. Suddenly, I was 13 again, and the memories of these sodas I’d long forgotten came flooding back. I had to have them again.

I miraculously found all three of them—Love Potion #69, Brainwash, and Black Lemonade—at the liquor store BevMo, of all places. I couldn’t believe these things still existed, let alone were still being produced!

Here’s the craziest part: the first sip of Black Lemonade brought it all back. I totally remember how it tasted! Holy lord, do I remember. It’s like time stopped for two decades, and suddenly I was in my bedroom in Southern Illinois again, sipping the expired black swill.

It’s super lemony on the nose, almost like a bathroom air freshener. And super tart and tangy in the mouth; the kind that pinches you under the jawline. Plus it burns when you swallow it. Seriously, it burns, like you’re drinking jalapeno juice or something. But then, I don’t know what else you’d expect from a drink called Black Lemonade, featuring a skull and crossbones on its label.

Perhaps the thing that makes this line of sodas stand out is their ingredients. Black Lemonade features, “…an herbal blend consisting of Siberian, American and Korean Ginseng, African Capsicum, Brazilian Guarana, Ginkgo Biloba, Kola Nut, Echinacea, Clove, Sage, Skullcap (Mad Dog Weed), Kava Kava”. I distinctly remember being afraid of those ingredients when I drank from the bottles so many years ago, and to be honest, I’m a little leery now.

Here’s to your health!

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