For those wondering why things got quiet over on Unfair Park for a couple hours Friday afternoon, you can blame a City Of Ate taste test gone horribly wrong.
The self-proclaimed World's First Extreme Relaxation Beverage, Drank is marketed as an "anti-energy drink," with the tagline "Slow your roll." Rather than a jolt of caffeine and whatever else is in the likes of Red Bull, this purple grape-flavored soda is loaded with natural sleep aids melatonin, valerian root and rosehips. When a distributor brought a case up to the Dallas Observer office Friday, we knew it was time for a taste test.
The packaging and PR material make it clear that the company wants its anti-energy drink to be perceived as a legal alternative to lean, the cocktail of Sprite and promethazine/codeine prescription cough syrup so beloved by Dirty South rappers.
Cute, we thought. It's a Houston Shirley Temple.
Each 16-oz. can contains two 8-oz. servings and the following warning, possibly written after consumption: "This product may cause drowsiness. Not recommended more than 2 servings within a 24 hour period."
Reactions to the taste were overwhelmingly positive. Drank is very sweet and artificial-tasting, with a distinct medicinal tang. Most of us also noticed a weird tingly feeling in our cheeks. It's a pretty close approximation of the taste of lean, except with a much stronger grape flavor and not so much citric bite.
Ricky Fandrick: "I think they've accurately captured the taste of children's cough syrup. Which is a good thing."
Megan Feldman: "I usually don't even like soda, but I like this."
Robert Wilonsky: "It tastes like watered-down grape Nehi mixed with cough medicine."
Merritt Martin: "It stings slightly. It tastes like purple." Then, a few minutes later, "It's probably psychological, but I feel like I should go take a nap."
Brittan Dunham: "I need to sit down. Can I just sit down for a minute?"
Patrick Michels: "It's working."
Robert Wilonsky: "Zzzzz.....Zzzzz..."
The reactions to the supposed relaxation benefits varied wildly, with surprisingly little correlation to the amount consumed. After just a small cup, one tester leaned against a cubicle wall, slumped to the ground and began rubbing her knees, mumbling and giggling. Another worked diligently the rest of the afternoon after killing two full cans, or twice the daily recommended maximum. Several others leaned back in chairs or against cube partitions, heavy-lidded. Myself, I could barely even keep my eyes focused for hours afterward, and it felt like my face was on the verge of sliding off my skull. I'd have been in a coma if I'd mixed it with vodka per my original plan.
Turns out vodka isn't necessary for the coma, though, as Unfair Park blogmaster Robert Wilonsky found out the hard way.
"What, does it make you feel stoned or something?" he asked before trying the purple stuff.
"No, it's like the feeling you have if someone wakes you up before you're ready to get out of bed," Pete Freedman said.
"Whatever, that's how I feel all the time," he said, and drained the entire can.
An hour later, we went to his office to ask if his roll had been slowed. Turns out it wasn't just slowed, it was stopped.
"That thing is not recommended for human consumption," he said after waking from an hour-long nap. "It didn't help that I had maybe 10 hours of sleep all week."
We have found the one thing that can stop the Fingers of Fury. --Jesse Hughey