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“Suicide” soda combination
2008/09/21
10:03pm
Rob Irving
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On a recent show, a listener asked about the use of the term “suicide” to describe a mixture of several different types of soft drinks.

When I played little league in Phoenix, Arizona in 1964-1966, the players got a free soda at the end of every game from the snack bar. I can remember that a popular drink was a “suicide” – cola, rook beer and orange soda. The drinks were mixed by the volunteers who worked behind the counter.

Toward the end of my little league career, the servers at the snack bar stopped serving suicides. As I remember, we were told that the soda manufacturers had instructed that “suicides” could not be served instead the soda brands were supposed to be served in their original forms.

One of the hosts suggested that the term “suicide” may have come from the ghastly color of the drink – and suggested that the drink may have been yellowy or greenish. Our suicides weren’t greenish – they had a brownish (cola/root beer) color with a bit of orange tint.

I can’t remember that we ever had an explanation for the name “suicide”.

Rob

2008/09/22
7:53am
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Grant Barrett
San Diego, California
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Thanks, Rob. I bet the soda manufacturers HATED to have their products mixed in that way. All their careful R&D going right out the window with the push of a button.

Related: one of our callers said that homeless people who mix different kind of alcohol in the same way also call them suicides. How that information was come by I do not know.

By the way, we have more comments about suicide sodas here.

2008/10/28
8:24am
cobaltdragon
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When I was a kid, in Cincinnati, Ohio we called it a “bomb”.

2008/10/28
10:50pm
flashart
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In Maine in the 80’s we varied between calling it a suicide and a monster mash. Depending on the ratio of different options, it could very much look like a bubbling cauldron. Occasionally we would stick inanimate objects into the drink when the owner wasn’t looking so that they would then get startled when they tipped the cup back and something rolled down and hit their upper lip. 🙂

2008/11/03
11:48pm
wadboy
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at boy scout campchin be gota in wisconsin in the sixties it was the “in” thing to order a suicide. which wwre dispensed from the old fashionedsoft drink machine on the back counter with a red coca cola base and clear top.”cant you just see one?”no one at all cared that they were seling themback in the day. their suicide was as many or all of the flavors available and ice cold they were pretty good to me imade them for myself in the plant cafeteria for a lunch beverageas late as 2003 still thinking they wre pretty good.probaly just the influence of a leftover grin from being a kid.
real”stand by me” stuff eh?

2008/11/08
10:34am
rlievertz
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In 1960-62 Detroit, Michigan we had different names for sodas that were mixed together based upon the number of sodas in the mix. A ‘suicide’ was a mix of 5 or more sodas. There was also a ‘graveyard’ and others along that theme. If I remember correctly a graveyard was a mix of 3 different sodas.

2008/11/08
12:53pm
Adam Lindsay
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I also used the term suicide as a kid, int he 80’s. My sister and female cousins also drank them with us.
Bug Juice and Swamp Juice however are not words we used to describe this soda concoction. Bug and Swamp juice is what we called lemonade and fruit juice at summer camp. They we always light green or yellow sometimes pink, sweet and slightly sour.

Adam Lindsay
San Diego

2008/11/09
7:24am
Debra
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In the early ’70’s when my sister and I and girlfriends went to the Rollerdrome (roller rink) in Madison, WI, we would create suicides = cola, root beer and sprite at the snack bar soda fountain. We were around 10-12 years old.

2008/11/09
8:39am
castrickland
Marshfield, WI
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My mother worked at a Red Cross Drug store back in the 50s in Racine, Wisconsin. No longer there. She used to make them for the customers, and they were made from Coke syrup, Green River, and a splash of chocolate syrup, add selzer water and stir. Add ice and a straw and there you have it. If only I could go there now and mom, who is no longer with us, would make me just one more time a real “suicide”.

Also, “bug juice” was nothing like a suicide. Camp Singing Hills (Girl Scout) in East Troy used to serve Kool-Aid, and they called that bug juice. Also this camp has been sold to a developer for condos and homes on the lake. IS NOTHING SACRED??

Lots of good memories in this old head. Turning 64 next week.

2008/11/09
11:13am
Valerie
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Suicides were not just a “boy thing.” I had my first “suicide” at a church camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains – this would be about 1961 or 62. It was a staple of the snack bar… and a rite of passage. Actually, they didn’t taste bad!

2008/11/10
10:17am
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Martha Barnette
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Wow, this is great. A lot of these names, like “bomb” and “graveyard” are new to me.

And Valerie, boy, have we heard from a lot of people who agree with you that “suicides” aren’t just a girl thing! I guess I just didn’t get out much. 🙂

2008/11/13
11:51am
Gil
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I just heard the Suicide reference listening to your archives. I’m a little late to the party, but here’s my contribution.

At fast food joints where you serve your own drinks, I usually get unsweetened ice tea topped off with a splash of lemonade. I always flash on making suicides when I was a kid in the sixties. We belonged to a pool in Atlanta where we often were allowed to pour our own fountain drinks. And Suicides were de rigueur. But when we did it we were much more deliberate, each devising carefully considered combos, each striving for the perfect thirst quencher. Of course I’m sure they all tasted like the same sugar bombs they were. But we still took great pride in our own recipes and were always sampling and judging each others’ formulae as though at a wine tasting.

A mention of summer camp bug juice reminded me of working at a camp in the Adirondacks in the seventies. On camping trips, we served a Kool-aid knock-off we called La Goo. I’m not sure but I think this name came from an actual French brand name, but I don’t know what it was. Whatever the original name, I always loved that name La Goo. Anyone else heard of this?

I just discovered your show. Really great!

2008/11/13
12:52pm
LuLu
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I grew up in a small town in Utah and until I graduated from High School it was a daily ritual for each member of my group to purchase a soda can and then each of us would pour an amount into empty cups until all the cans were gone. We were a mix of girls and guys and everyone else we knew also enjoyed a “suicide”

2008/11/13
9:58pm
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Martha Barnette
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Gil, the party’s always going on here! In any case, glad you found the show. We hope you’ll stick around.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard the term “La Goo.”

And LuLu, thanks for the info. Boy. do I stand corrected on the co-ed creation and consumption of sugar bombs! 🙂

2008/11/14
11:17pm
Fred in RI
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I’m the father of three boys and they love mixing drinks whenever a soda fountain is available. I’ve never heard the word “suicide” attached to it, and as my boys are still young, I’d rather they NOT.

I attributed their fondness of mixing drinks (they do it at home as well) to a birthday party we threw for our youngest. Three boys of a certain age means Harry Potter played a large role in our household. Our youngest was born on November 1 and we threw a Halloween themed party for him. One of the events was Professor Snape’s Potions Class where we allowed the children to mix cleverly labeled bottles of apple juice and the like.

Now, whenever the boys get the chance, it’s brown bleach to drink and they claim to love it.

2008/11/15
10:50am
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Martha Barnette
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Gah! Brown bleach! Kids do love that “ick” factor, don’t they, Fred?

2009/05/10
1:35pm
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JerryP
Hells Kitchen, NY, NY
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I’m catching up on missed podcasts;

I went to a Boy Scout camp in Wisconsin in the late 50s. That was where I learned to call Kool Aid, Bug Juice. I always thought the reason for this (adolescent boy-think) was simply that it looked like the effect one might get if ones “juiced” a bug and dissolved it in water surprised.

Mixing sodas for me was never popular until the advent of 7-11 Stores in California (when they were really only open from 7 am to 11 pm), in the 60s, where you made your own soda drinks.

That in tun reminds me of drinks I used to have at the soda fountains in the 50s. Popular drinks were “phosphates”, such as “cherry phosphates, vanilla phosphates, and even chocolates phosphates aka chocolate sodas. If one used lime syrup though, it was called a “Green River”. I believe this was the name on the syrup bottle. This was in northern Illinois.

2009/05/10
7:42pm
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Martha Barnette
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Jerry, I’d totally forgotten about “phosphates”! I remember coming across those for the first time — to me, the name was jarring. Never heard of “Green River,” either. Nice to add it to the collection!

2009/05/14
4:48pm
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Stoppel
Holland Europe
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We used to add coffee cream and sugar to a soda called Exota, an almost chemical looking and tasting kind of soda. With the extra ingredients we were left with a bubbling kind of ooze, which we used to call ‘Sputnik’. Probably after the mysterious Soviet satellite that was launched a decade earlier.

2009/05/18
3:26pm
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Martha Barnette
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Sounds, um, delicious, Stoppel. Of course, you guys are also the folks who make a dish called blote billetjes in het gras, right? 🙂

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