ANDY ROONEY 2.0: Losing sleep over the deadly lemonade

Indignity Vol. 3, No. 195

ANDY ROONEY 2.0: Losing sleep over the deadly lemonade

All This Caffeine Makes Me Jumpy

I JUST ATE a bowl of ice cream in the middle of the day. I prefer eating ice cream in the evening, as dessert, but this particular ice cream was "coffee with cream and sugar" flavored, and the text on the carton explained how the ice cream makers "take the extra time to steep fresh coffee grounds directly in our cream." On several different evenings, I'd gotten it out of the freezer, studied that carton text, and put it back.

Eaten at lunchtime, it was delicious, with tiny little crunchy flecks of coffee matter in it. And now that I've eaten it, I can feel a familiar squeezing sensation at the third corner of the triangle whose other two corners are my ear canal and the hinge of my jaw. It's just like the feeling of having had an extra cup of coffee!

Caffeine is a wonderful thing, in its proper place. I can't really get through the day without it. I also can't get through the night with it. I usually drink two strong cups of black tea in the morning; sometimes I have something different, or something additional—green tea, or coffee, or two-dollar chai from the vegetarian place on Columbus Avenue—but not after lunch. Otherwise, right after I drift off to sleep at night, I'll bounce awake again and stay that way.

Right now, though, caffeine does not get the appropriate respect. The Panera Bread food chain is being sued in two separate cases because it allegedly killed customers with its "Charged Lemonade"—a sweet soft drink engineered to deliver a full day's worth of heavy caffeine consumption in a single serving. The most recently deceased had reportedly consumed three cups of the lemonade, which contained as much caffeine as somewhere between eight and a dozen cups of coffee, depending on whether his three lemonades were regular or large. Then he went into cardiac arrest.

Why would there be any caffeine in lemonade at all? Lemonade is a thirst-quenching drink. You drink it because it's cold and sweet and tart, and you keep drinking it until it's gone. The Old Town Bar does sell a nice and refreshing lemonade with vodka that you have to be careful about (the printout on the wall advertising it, to the best of my recollection, read "LEMONADE / LEMONADE / LEMONADE / LEMONADE / LEMONADE / WITH VODKA / HITS THE SPOT," and acquired an incantatory power toward the bottom of one's first pint). But at least you're drinking it in a bar, with the context cues around you to remind you that you may feel different after you've finished your lemonade than you did when you started. Who goes to a Panera Bread expecting to come out overstimulated?

There are also coffee candies in this world. My younger son especially likes eating them. Then he comes out of his bedroom complaining that he can't get to sleep.

Not long after I'd read the New York Times story about the Panera Charged Lemonade and its unexpected dosage of caffeine, I saw a dessert recipe in the Times:

The marquee dessert at Golden Diner, in Manhattan’s Chinatown, is a take on tres leches, a Latin American cake soaked in three kinds of milk, as the Spanish name attests: whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk, its unsweetened cousin. Sam Yoo, the chef and owner, infuses the milk with Thai tea powder, a blend of black tea and vanilla that yields a signature tiger-orange hue. The longer the cake soaks, the better it is.

I like tres leches cake, and I love Thai tea. But I only get Thai tea if I'm eating lunch at a Thai restaurant, never dinner. The caffeine levels are variable, but at the high end they can be as strong as coffee.

To soak and flavor this cake, the Times told its readers to heat up the combination of milks, totaling a bit under 6 cups of liquid, and then to steep a heaping half cup, or 42 grams, of Thai tea powder in the hot mixture for 10 minutes. The recipe recommended the Wangderm brand of tea powder, which says on its package that 30 grams will make a liter of tea. That means that the cake's flavoring liquid would be six cups of more or less full-strength Thai tea—probably more than full-strength, given the 10-minute brewing time—distributed among 12 slices of cake. I'm going to feel that if I eat it! If I were to serve it to the kids for dessert, they would definitely feel it.

Luckily, around here, we serve cake for breakfast.


New York City, December 11, 2023

★ The start of the day was just more of the sodden night, with the sun still below the horizon at breakfast and the rain clouds obliterating any hint of dawn. The rain held on long enough to require waterproof shoes on the kids going off to school, with the middle schooler toting gym shoes in a bag. Only after that did the cold wind blow it all out. The cat thrust her face into the opening at the bottom of the window, ears back, clawing at the sill, as a mourning dove sat unconcernedly on the balcony rail. The sunny interlude didn't last long enough to dry up the puddles before new clouds shut it off.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 180: Much more space than the ravaging of the world's freshwater fish population got.

Tom Scocca • Dec 12, 2023


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of select sandwiches from The Modern Cook Book and Household Recipes, revised and edited by Lily Haxworth Wallace, Lecturer on Foods, Contributor to the "National Food Magazine," Etc., Published in 1912. This book is in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

Nut-Butter Sandwiches
Take a half cup of good nut butter, add a half cupful of rich, sweet cream, and mix to a paste. Add salt if needed, and a dash of cayenne or paprika. Spread between thin slices of white bread or thin, crisp crackers. Press together.

Fish Sandwiches
Pound the coral of a lobster. Mash the hardboiled yolks of 3 or 4 eggs. Skin and bone 2 salted anchovies; mash these, and mix all together. Season with a spoonful of lemon juice, one half teaspoonful of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Cut thin slices of Boston brown bread; spread with the fish mixture; cover with a crisp leaf of lettuce, then with another slice of bread. Cut in halves or quarters.

Any cold fish may be substituted for the lobster.

Another Fish Sandwich
Use any cold boiled fish—cod, bluefish, haddock, or white fish. Flake quite fine, or pound; mix with each cupful of flaked fish 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped, and sufficient white sauce or sweet cream to moisten. Add a little Worcestershire sauce, and a half teaspoonful of very finely minced parsley. Spread between slices of bread.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to

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The second printing of 19 FOLK TALES is now available for Holiday gift-giving and personal perusal!

U.S. Postal Service media mail delivery takes an estimated 4 to 8 business days, which leaves approximately ONE DAY of shopping time before it turns into a gamble against the calendar.

During those days—and afterward, for adrenaline junkies and/or Eastern Orthodox shoppers—the author stands ready to hand-fulfill orders as they come in, even at the cost of dealing with that one clerk at the neighborhood post office whose whole thing is trying to start a fight with everyone who steps up to her window. Happy holidays!

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, available for purchase at SHOPULA.

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