Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vietnam -- Soft Drinks in Vietnam: Fresca was shot and killed

The way you got around drinking water that tasted like chlorine was to purchase canned drinks. You could purchase rationed canned beer or soft drinks.

The idea was to purchase a case of 24 cans that would last you a month. There were a wide variety of 30 day supplies you would purchase on payday and make last the entire month. If you didn't drink beer
Soft drinks were purchased at the PX with MPC.

During the winter time, you could purchase more of the popular soft drinks such as Coca-Cola. Because many of us were not coming back for extended stays, thinking about the hot summer that does occur in Vietnam wasn't on our minds.

Of course, during that period of time, there would be less of the popular soft drinks and more of the ones you might be forced to drink that you wouldn't want to. I personally harbor the belief that if Charlie had to drink some of the soft drinks we drank, they would have surrendered.

Fresca was the classic example.

Of all the canned drinks offered to us soldiers in Vietnam, Fresca had to be the one that stood out as being gawd awful. The best way to describe the drink was someone flavored piss with a spot of lemon lime in it.

Apparently, President Lyndon Johnson had a thing for it:

Lyndon Johnson "gave up alcohol and drank tea, Tab and Fresca" after he became president in 1963, as we note in our profile.  We didn't know until now that he used Fresca as a weapon, too.

Fresca was a diet soda made by Coca-Cola. (Fresca is still around, in fact).  Johnson was such a fan that he reportedly had a "Fresca" call button added to his private White House study (though not an actual Fresca tap in the Oval Office as sometimes rumored).My thoughts, he must of had some stock in Coca-Cola because that product was worse than drinking piss. Either that or he found a new way of tell those whom you didn't like to piss off. Being of course, socially correct in doing so.

Seriously, I wasn't alone. Type in: "Army in Vietnam drinking Fresca.", and you'll see what I mean.
The stuff was really bad warm and barely tolerable cold.

Which brings me to another point. With little to no electricity and with no refrigerators, even the best tasting soft drinks didn't satisfy thirst hot. So, once again, field expediency and a bit of GI creativity produced a way to cool the drinks down to the point where they were cold enough to quench one's thirst.

The idea was simple, get a block of ice from the mess hall, place the can sideways on top of the ice and turn the can clockwise and counter clock wise on top of the ice until cold. Key here is turn the can. Caused the contents in side to move around and cool quicker.

Then there was the other issue with aluminum cans.  The pop tops often failed at opening the can.  Nothing will hack you off more than to have cooled a can of Fresca -- knowing it is the only thing
you can drink and your thirst takes over your survival instincts enough to drink it, only to find out you can't open the darn can.

That's when you either use your P-38 to open the top or you took a bullet and punched a hole it in, poured the contents out into a suitable drinking container.

No comments: