I‘m not an athlete. I fancied myself an athlete as a kid and throughout high school, and while I patrol centerfield in kickball, sweat it out on elliptical machines, and ride my bike to work occasionally, that doesn’t make me an athlete. Yet I still love Gatorade. So fruity and delicious, Gatorade is the nectar of the gods. Restoring hydration after a night of cigarettes, Jager shots, and beers, Gatorade sets my course on the road to recovery like the Florence Nightingale of drinking. Shit, I drink it just for fun on the way to work a couple times a week at least. It’s nutritious, it tastes good, and I can’t get enough of it.
I wrote the above paragraph last Friday night after Lady E and I returned from the Park Tavern. I was fairly drunk, desperately wanted to go to bed, and had to get up early the next day, but the Gatorade tasted so good, and my feelings so strong about its simple brilliance, I had to write at least part of my love letter to it right then and there. And if you thought was all I had to say, well, you’ve obviously never been here before. Welcome!
As I thought later about writing of my love of Gatorade while fully lucid, it occurred to me that I’m likely treading on Chuck Klosterman’s turf with this post (if not blatantly ripping him off), and thanks to the miracle of technology, within about 15 seconds, my suspicions were confirmed true (check out the bottom of this article). What’s worse is that I’m not half the writer Klosterman is which renders the promise of this article not dissimilar from most of Carlos Mencia’s stand-up act.
After all, he discussed Gatorade’s perpetual flavor ingenuity, the brilliance of mixing it with alcohol (which, despite being delicious, causes you to break the seal absurdly early and not stop all freaking night), Fierce Melon as his all-time favorite flavor (mine was Fierce Lime, which tastes exactly like melted-yet-still-cold Sir Isaac Lime Otter Pops), and how much Gatorade Rain tastes exactly like the dying remains of your shattered dreams and failed life.
These were all points I planned on making (more or less) in my love letter to Gatorade, but now cannot. However, the cultural shadow cast by Gatorade is far and wide leaving plenty of ample real estate for comment. After all, Gatorade is the official sports drink of EVERY MAJOR AMERICAN SPORT, and has had an entire book written about it by Darren Rovell (check out his blog devoted exclusively to the product here). If a dude can blog for a whole year about nothing but Gatorade, I can add my own 1,000 words about it too. So let’s chat.
As Lady E, Hart, Limon and I wandered around the Bashas’ grocery store in Tucson half-drunkenly filling our arms with snack food for more drinking fuel, we lost track of Senor Limon. When we came upon him, he had an armful of colorful bottles demonstrating remarkable forethought of our impending hydration needs. But as I looked closer, the bottles in his arms weren’t the familiar trapezoidal, armadillo-skinned bottles of my favorite beverage, they were of the alien-looking, completely foreign Powerade variety.
I asked him what the fuck was up with that, and he responded, first; logically: “They’re on sale. Four for $5,” then; unfathomably: “Besides, I like Powerade better.”
What?!?! Who the hell likes Powerade better? Granted, I’ve never thrown up a freshly drank bottle of Lemon Ice Gatorade like he has, but still, that’s like saying you like Admiral Nelson’s rum, any brand of mac n’ cheese besides Kraft, and Malt-O-Meal cereal better. Gatorade is the authentic issue. The originator. Homemade. The Real McCoy. Powerade is corporate-invented bullshit. It’s not the poor man’s Gatorade, it’s the homeless man’s Gatorade. The bottle has no character, Powerade’s got about 5 weak ass flavors, and up to that point, I’d never felt more disconnected from Senor Limon in my entire life. I didn’t like having it in my fridge, and I felt like I’d at once betrayed on one old friend and lost another.
Needless to say, the next morning I was hungover as balls, drank the Powerade and found it quite refreshing. I don’t actually give a shit one way or the other if someone else is paying – Powerade tastes just fine and Senor Limon liking it better doesn’t affect my life in the least, but if left to my own devices and my own money, I will almost assuredly choose Gatorade 100 times out of 100 cost be damned. But why?
My best guess: History and availability. To the first point, my mom used to make me drink Gatorade during swim meets when I was a kid, and even bought Gator Gum, which, despite sucking terribly, I chewed with the vigor of a coked-up Holstein cow. I also drank a Fierce Lime Gatorade virtually every day during the best job I’ve ever had (more on that tomorrow), which segued into years of recreational and overzealous drinking necessitating the rapid replacement of electrolytes on a semi-regular basis. To the second, Gatorade is 5 to 500 times easier to obtain than Powerade. Unless you’re Senor Limon, do you ever notice it in the cooler at 7-11? What are the names of the flavors called? Can you tell me without looking? And was it available during a small jiu-jitsu tournament held at a metro-area high school last month? Answers: No, no idea, no, and no. Can you guess what was available at that tournament? If you said Gatorade, and shit else, award yourself two points.
All that visibility and history has translated into near-psychotic brand loyalty for E Dagger. Outside of vowing never to own a Mongoose bicycle because of the evil Duke Best trying to corrupt a young Cru Jones, I can’t think of one product to which I am so fiercely loyal. And like all great companies, Gatorade continues to innovate, remains steadfast in its pursuit of excellence, and maintains the simple greatness of its classics.
I find myself currently addicted to both lemon-lime and grape G2, the low-calorie versions of the popular originals, which is like not just getting your cake and eating it too, but like getting your cake and getting a BJ from Hayden Panettiere too. And there’s an endless assortment to choose from.
I still haven’t had any of the Tiger flavors. I’ve yet to indulge half the X-Factor flavors. And I remember a couple of years ago seeing ads for Gatorade A.M. and thinking to myself, “Is that really necessary?” Since when is Gatorade only a post-lunch thing? It’s just like bacon, bourbon, or Stella D’Ora Breakfast Treats. You can have it anytime!
With that in mind, I went to the 7-11 at 4:30, bought myself a Tropical A.M. 32 ouncer and had myself a nice little afternoon Gatorade office party. The A.M. flavors are a little pussified, and a tad watered down, but hey, someone’s bound to like ‘em and whatever keeps the money rolling in to my favorite electrolyte factory is okay with me. Just please don’t take away G2. It’s the new essence of life.
Gatorade is unabashedly one of the things we love, and one we love most. In fact, if we had to rank this list we’re compiling, Gatorade would likely be no lower than #3 just behind Eugene Levy in American Pie, and just ahead of Tombstone Pizza. Come to think of it, combine a Tombstone, a Gatorade, and a viewing of American Pie, you’ve got yourself an evening. We know what we’re up to. See you tomorrow…
27 May 2009 E Dagger