2.06.2006

I-95 is a Random Muse, Or, Just One of the Things That Popped Into My Head On My Way Back From Virginia

The only good thing about the northeast, as far as I can tell after 27 years of observation, is the abundance of Dunkin Donuts establishments. And even that is a mixed blessing now that the company has traded in my old standby--French Vanilla coffee made from flavor-infused beans--for at least nine different sugar-free syrups that roll over the tongue like sweet cancer. In case that somehow sounds appetizing, let me just clarify: it's not. These syrups are a foul-tasting marketing ploy to offer variety to the throngs of people streaming in and out of the drive-thru at the start of yet another weekday differentiated from the one before and the one after only by the presence of coconut, toasted almond or blueberry syrup in their 24 ounce styrofoam cup. But, really, who cares if it tastes bad? By the time the caffeine jolts us awake, the propylene glycol, glycerine, natural & artificial flavors, triacetin, polysorbate 80, and caramel color have long since numbed our taste buds.

We'll willingly drink bad coffee because it makes our days livable, but truly good coffee makes that living worthwhile. McDonald's tried to capitalize on that fact on the upper east coast with the introduction of Green Mountain coffee (Newman's Own Organic Blend). Then they got really smart and offered it stark, raving FREE for something like two whole weeks. One could drag his or her somnambulant carcass into McDonald's every morning for the duration of the special and sail out on an complimentary caffeine cloud. And an organic one, no less. We love that. Don't let the fact that we'll pay $5 for a non-fat Starbucks latte convince you otherwise.

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