Last year, around this time, I ventured into Indianapolis for a conference. I stayed at the very nice Conrad Indianapolis. It’s across the street from the Circle Centre Mall and I stepped in that spot to get my Movado fixed. While waiting for the repair, I noticed an A&W All-American Foods in the food court. I’ve always been a fan of their fries so I stopped through and I had a bit of a chuckle when I saw the root beer float on the menu. It reminded me of a very special drink I used to buy way back when. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Floats drink.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across Floats upon my return from the Iraq deployment. After shaking off the jet lag and filling my body up with all of the junk food from the SEIYU at Fussa Station for a few days, I decided to finally get around to grocery shopping at the Yokota Commissary. While on the drink aisle, I noticed the Sunkist Floats. They were in the old-fashioned root beer bottles. I was intrigued. I grabbed a pack of 4 and went about the rest of my shopping. I got home and chilled them. I actually forgot they were in my refrigerator until I saw them on the bottom shelf when I was looking for something to drink on Super Bowl Monday ahead of the infamous Super Bowl XLII. I tried one of the drinks alongside a monster order of wings I got from the Samurai Café. And that was my introduction to the world of Floats.
What it meant to me then? That first taste was delightful. It was so soothing…the orange creamsicle taste and all. It was made even better by the fact that it had been chilled undisturbed for 1 ½ weeks. By the time that game was over, I had drank all 4 of them. I ended up going back to the commissary a couple of days later to get more of them. For the remainder of my time in Japan, I bought the Sunkist Floats once a month. When I moved to Waldorf, Maryland for the Joint Base Andrews assignment, I continued that practice in buying them from the Andrews Commissary or the Shoppers Food Warehouse around the corner from my apartment complex. The only difference was I started drinking the A&W Floats during my first stint in Maryland. I liked the drink. It was like drinking ice cream. It felt all good. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me feel slightly lazy for a spell.
What it means to me now? I haven’t seen the Floats since May 2012. I remember getting a 4-pack of Sunkist Floats in my last week before I moved over to South Korea. They weren’t available in the South Korean grocery stores and I rarely shopped at the Osan Commissary so that was a wash for me. When I did return to the United States shortly before earning my independence from the Air Force, I didn’t see them at any of the grocery stores I frequented. Trust me, I looked a few times. I resigned myself to the fate that they got canceled or phased out. Today, the Floats drink still holds some significance with me. It’s not exactly on the upper echelon of novelty carbonated soft drinks like Fanta Melon but it’s pretty close. I could probably get something similar in taste to the Floats at Johnny Rocket’s or the aforementioned A&W All-American Foods but that would be more true ice cream float as opposed to a beverage that mimicked that concept. Who knows: maybe one of these days, Keurig Dr. Pepper may open their own version of the World of Coca-Cola and they’ll have the Floats drink in the fountain drink area. Until then, I’ll at least have my memories of the drink.