As I’ve said before, adults are missing out on the whimsy, color, and imagination of food products targeted towards kids. And this also applies to beverages. I largely blame sugar-phobia and the compulsion to seem “cool”—both problems that plague the adult community—for severely limiting our beverage choices. But “coolness” is a construct! And if you’re already drinking regular soda, or alcohol, those pack just as much sugar (if not more) than a glass of apple juice.
So let’s raise our juice boxes and our glasses of Strawberry Nesquik in celebration of breaking free from convention. It’s time to start putting the fun back in hydration! Here are a few drinks that I believe should be imbibed more often by adults, without any guilt or shame.
When I was a kid, I was always being told to drink milk to keep my bones healthy. Well, adults have bones, too! But as an adult I feel the same way about plain milk that I did when I was a kid: Ew, no thank you. Chocolate milk, however, is a different story. I loved it as a kid, and I love it now. Yoo-Hoo is a “chocolate drink,” not chocolate milk, but it’s got a milky taste (and a few milk-adjacent ingredients) so that’s close enough for me. I love this cool, sweet, slightly artificial-tasting and deeply nostalgic drink. Just don’t forget to shake it like a Polaroid picture (the latter of which, actually, you should not shake).
- Shirley Temples
When we’re not drinking alcohol with dinner, adults love seltzer. And yeah, bubbles do zhuzh up a plain glass of water. But why stop there? Why not swap out seltzer for ginger ale, add some maraschino flavoring, and pop a literal cherry on top (or have a bartender do this for you, unless you happen to have these things sitting around your house)? Shirley Temples hold up in adulthood, and I believe they’re way underrated. Cherry flavor enhances almost any soda—but especially ginger ale. This is a delicious, fun, flirty drink that won’t impair your ability to drive home. And if it comes with an umbrella? Highlight of my week! (I don’t get out much.)
- Strawberry Nesquik
I’ve made it clear I’m a chocolate milk fan. But I am a strawberry milk stan. Much like the Eminem song, my love for strawberry milk is intense, a little over-the-top, and dates back to the year 2000. Strawberry Nesquik is usually my drink of choice for road trips and it’s available at most gas stations (and Dunkin’ Donuts). There’s something about the potently sweet, slightly chalky strawberry flavoring that really works with the cold milk; it tastes like cold, melted strawberry ice cream, and I like that. Also, it looks like Pepto-Bismol, which somehow tricks my brain into thinking it will alleviate my occasional bout of road trip nausea. This drink contains multitudes!
- Apple Juice Boxes
Apple juice is delicious, thirst-quenching, and fun for people of all ages. And while I love a tall class of AJ, I think it’s best enjoyed from a juice box with a tiny straw, like the kind my mom packed in my school lunches when I was a kid. Apple juice is so delicate and just the right amount of sweet. It’s so refreshing and tastes like the fruit it comes from, which not all juices do. Apple cider is good, too, but it tends to be a little more bitter (and often spiked with booze). I’ll throw an apple juice box (Honest Kids makes a great variety pack with no sugar added) in my bag as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up to drink in my car—I don’t even care who sees!
Clearly, I have a sweet tooth. And no beverage encapsulates the sweetness of candy like fruit punch. When I’m at a party and there’s a punch bowl, I’m always excited until I realize there’s probably booze in it, which kind of ruins the whole fruit punch vibe for me. Call me a ‘90s kid (you would be correct), but I think the ideal way to drink fruit punch is from a pouch—like a Capri-Sun, for example. It’s portable. That aggressively sweet flavor carries the nostalgia of youth. And as a bonus, the limited portion size stops me from imbibing enough sugar to make me crash like a toddler after a birthday party. Take that, punch bowls!