In 2009 the New York Times ran an article describing a trend taking over the city. Various shops were selling young coconuts, with undeveloped shells, liberated of their tops and served with drinking straws. "I think it's stylish, it's pretty," said a Brooklyn shop owner who was selling cases of coconuts a day at the time.
Only a few years later and coconut water has gone viral. Health benefits are touted; beverage companies market the liquid as a sports beverage, nutritional supplement, hangover cure and essence of life. Scores of companies are bottling the stuff, tinging it with pineapple and other fruit flavors and selling it in boxes, cans and plastic bottles.
Recently I saw several varieties for sale at the Whole Foods on Lemmon. I wasn't exactly excited to dive in. I was in grade school the first time I drank coconut water. I grabbed a drill out of the garage and set forth on a brown, hairy orb I'd talked my mother into purchasing at the grocery store, determined to get at the nectar inside. What resulted was perhaps an ounce or two of murky liquid littered with flecks of coconut flesh and tinged brown from shell fragments. It was gross.
The younger nuts produce a more abundant and sweeter liquid, but still: This stuff tastes like shampoo smells. The side of my container of Zico-brand coconut water said the package contained more potassium than a banana, but I don't care. I'd rather eat seven bananas and drink regular water than force down this stuff. Given the choice between enduring a hangover and consuming 12 ounces of premium coconut water, think I'd rather go back to bed.
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