Apple Juice Not Just for Kids Anymore, Though It Should Be

Far be it from me to meddle in other people's hydration techniques, but I was surprised this weekend to come across an overheated valet chugging a gallon of frozen apple juice.

I like apples, but I always figured there was an age limit on enjoying apple juice. I'd no sooner drink apple juice than chew on a teething ring. Apple juice is sweet and sticky and smells like day care. Statistics bear out the notion that apple juice is for babies: According to the USDA, 2-year-olds drink apple juice at 30 times the national average.

But perhaps the juvenile hold on apple juice is what makes the drink so appealing: Apple juice could be the perfect expression of this summer's toddler chic that's got grown women running around in rompers.

Maybe I'm being apple-ist -- not a comfortable stance for a native Michigander -- but it seems to me there are so many better fruits to juice out there. Taste aside, apple juice isn't especially nutritious. It's mostly water, with enough sugar to rot teeth. And even without a scary coat of Alar, the apples used for juice are still a bit suspect: The St. Petersburg Times earlier this year discovered arsenic levels in apple juice "surpass the Food and Drug Administration's 'level of concern'."

Apple juice has its defenders. The U.S. Apple Association recently funded a study that showed apple juice improves the mood of Alzheimer's patients. (The industry group announced the good news in a story illustrated with a Photoshopped image of a goofy-looking old guy with a glass of apple juice balanced on his head.) And a few studies have suggested apple juice can help prevent asthma in children. So apple juice has its place in the medicine chest. But I'm unwilling to concede it belongs in an adult refrigerator. Come autumn, I'll be drinking cider.

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