Recently we engaged in a little literary Dumpster diving, went through our vast library with the finest of lice combs, and pulled up this little gem, You’re Really Cooking When You’re Cooking with SEVEN-UP!, which is available as a free download from Project Gutenberg* . Though hardly unique in the annals of corporate cookery (consider that viscous morass known as the “Fluffernutter,” intended for human consumption, to be sure, but clearly well suited for the entrapment of flies), this short book with the long title contains a couple of cocktail-like recipes—the odd phraseology is owing to the fact that they are sans alcohol—which piqued our interest and galvanized us into experimentation mode. The first drink was the Tomato Cocktail, which could be renamed “The Bloody Shame,” as the vital ingredients of vodka and Worcestershire sauce were absent. The other was the 7-UP Holiday Punch, which might be seen as lacking, well, punch, of course. Unfortunately, our plans were thwarted, not by some government fiat, but by reverse serendipity. Suntory, the distributor of 7-UP, discontinued the product earlier this year, and it is now virtually impossible to obtain in Tokyo! Sora News 24 reported on June 21, 2021, that “…7-Up will begin quickly disappearing from now on if it hasn’t already.” But having invested so much time and effort in crafting this opening paragraph, we decided to persevere and conduct our little experiment with what used to be called “Brand X,” a competing product with similar, perhaps identical, attributes, whose presence was conjured up in early TV commercials so as to disparage the competition in the eyes of the consumer.
One of us then went off to search for a can of Brand X, which did not prove easy to find. A large, vending machine that seemed promising was found, but the product we saw therein—Mountain Dew—would not serve as a Brand X for 7-UP!. “But wait! There’s more.”** In what can only be described as a case of reverse reverse serendipity, in the very same vending machine, 7-UP was proudly displayed! And so a can, perhaps the last one in Tokyo, was quickly purchased.
In this experiment, we decided to focus on the Tomato Cocktail. There were two reasons for this. First, it is minimalist in the extreme: “Add ½ teaspoon celery salt to one 14-ounce can of tomato juice. Chill thoroughly. Just before serving combine two 7-oz bottles of chilled 7-UP with the tomato juice. “ It is pretty easy, and there’s a lot of chillin’ going on, which is okay with us. Second, we were curious as to how this concoction tasted. As for the Holiday Punch, which requires peppermint ice cream, a flavor neither easily obtainable nor conventionally appealing (to some, the taste resembles that of a glob of toothpaste dropped on fallen snow), we decided to put that little experiment on the back burner, perhaps forever.
Our Tomato Cocktail experiment was twofold. First, we added 7-UP to tomato juice, dispensing with the celery salt but adding a pinch of high-quality sea salt. Second, we replaced the 7-UP! with a Japanese alcoholic beverage, specifically sweet-potato shochu.
The Results: The 7-UP!-tomato juice combination is, quite frankly, horrible. Even after several minutes had passed, it was difficult to rid our mouths of the aftertaste. We proceeded to the next phase after an appropriate interval of recuperation and tasted the shochu-tomato juice admixture, an experience that was equally disappointing.
**Discerning readers will realize that we have just used utterances closely associated with late-night pitchman and inventor Ron Popeil, master of the infomercial. Mr. Popeil passed away a few days ago at the age of 86. We trust he entered vegetable Valhalla with his trusty Veg-o-Matic. RIP, Ron. “RIP,” what does that stand for again?