After completing this month’s inventory, the USS Mustin supply department restocked the Gatorade machine with a mysterious liquid called “Sqwincher.” Sqwincher claims to be a “Great-Tasting Electrolyte Drink,” coinciding (and compounding the lie) with its subtitle as “The Activity Drink.” Mental alarms began ringing when I saw its assurance to consumers that it is indeed a drink twice within two inches of its label space, and the color didn’t help much.
Without garnishing too much, Sqwincher looks like dish soap. It comes in two flavors: “Off Road Orange” and “Lay It on the Line Lemon-Lime.” (They could have gone with “Lay It on the Lime”) For brevity’s sake, I will refer to these as Yellow and Orange. Yellow, like I said before, looks like dish soap you watered down to make sure you completely empty the bottle before making the trip to the store for a new one. Orange doesn’t look like liquid. The vending machine, as far as I can tell, has only given people orange Gatorade in lieu of Sqwincher. Someone in Supply must have felt merciful, because the testimonies I’ve heard about Yellow have ranged from “watered-down Gatorade” to “pickle juice.”
Before even getting past the ham-fisted flavor names, the empty promises that this is actually a beverage intended for human beings, confirmation that no, it isn’t a beverage meant for human consumption, and even the name that sounds like a particularly uncomfortable bowel movement, I was struck with the realization that Sqwincher is possibly the most 90s-era beverage still in existence. “Sqwincher” is a word you get when you say “thirst quencher” really fast, and where normally rad marketers would throw in an X, Sqwincher’s ad men opted instead for replacing the U with a W. That’s twice the “yoo,” brah! The flavor art shows a sprinter on Yellow and a motocross guy on Orange.
For those of you too young to remember the 90s (i.e. those of you born in the 90s (i.e. heathens)), that was the most bodacious decade in history. Life tended to err on the tubular side, with mondo colors, radical fashion, Bill Clinton and Full House. Marketing, always keeping its grubby finger on the pulse of the world’s youth, had to keep up with this extreme new era by making all their products look exactly that: eXtreme. Xtreme. X. If you can shove an X in a word, juxt dxo itx®. The nineties gave birth to the X-Games, killed Mr. Pibb and gave us Pibb Xtra, and Vin Diesel jumped on board a little late with his hit, sorry-kids-it-really-isn’t-porno film, xXx.
In a sense, Sqwincher is a time capsule from this bygone* era. Sure, if someone told me they just had a Sqwincher I’d offer Pepto Bismol, and it tastes about as good as the floor cleaner it looks like, but dammit, we have it and if we have to have it we have to own it.
So grab a Sqwincher, dude! It advertises itself as the beverage backyard athletes drink (since pouring a cooler of Sqwincher on a professional football or basketball coach would send them to Poison Control) so you know it has to be in a bottle!
*bygone unless you’re a hipster or spend all your time on BuzzFeed