Ridin’ the Sanka Train

I was at Disneyland the other day, consuming several large cups of the coffee with endless refills, bouncing gleefully over my recent discovery. Once I found out about this treat (available only at the Market House on Main Street U.S.A.), I figured it was time to grind it into the ground and drink all I could. On a regular visit, I can easily consume six of the 16-ounce cups over the course of a day. They say it’s not great for your nerves, causes acid stomach and will discolor your teeth, but I never cared.

Everything sort of changed this last weekend. I don’t know if it was the madness of Midway Mania (the ride I just stepped off of) or the 3 cups of coffee that I had within a small window of time that caused it, but my hands started to shake. I tried to hold my hands still. I could not. My friends all surveyed the situation, with great glee, and came to the same conclusion: I had overdosed on coffee.

I realized that if I ever hope to maintain steady hands and not come off like a knock-off version of Kate Hepburn, trembling like a feather in a breeze, I had best put on the breaks. So, for a time, I will stick with Sanka and ride that train around the park until I feel it’s time to step off.

I’ve long kept non-caffeinated products in my larder. I have several jars of Postum hoarded, of course, but I will only partake on special occasions since it’s no longer in production and as precious as gold. Pero is quite good, though not the same as Postum and does not feel like a coffee substitute — it is it is its own thing. The only legitimate solution is to swim in Sanka, my faithful instant friend.

A part of the Maxwell House family, Sanka is America’s first brand of instant coffee, dating back to the early 1900s. The younger ones won’t recall this, but for many years Sanka (and Postum for those of the Mormon persuasion) were regularly served at major restaurants. You didn’t ask for a cup of decaf: you asked for a pot of Sanka. Its impact is still felt — though most establishments no longer serve Sanka, the orange color of the product’s label is the main reason why they use orange to identify decaffeinated coffee in restaurants to this very day.

I won’t say it tastes as good as regular coffee, because it doesn’t. The slogan “Sanka… Everything You Love About Coffee” is somewhat misleading. Like other substitutes, it has its own character and drawbacks. I’d say it’s slightly bitter, and doesn’t even smell like regular coffee. But if you like the taste of instant coffee (and I do once in a while), you learn to live with it.

Naturally, my love for Sanka goes deeper than just my want to calm my jangled nerves. Sanka was a sponsor of The Andy Griffith Show. Back in the day, many of the key products were worked into little commercial skits featuring the characters. If you were not paying full attention, you would swear these spots were part of the actual episodes. Andy and company really sold the Sanka well — to this day, the spots make you want to run out and buy the stuff. And when you sip it, you feel like you’re in the sheriff’s office, gnawing on one of Aunt Bee’s fried chicken drumsticks and discussing American history with ol’ Barn.

Don’t believe me? Take a gander yourself and see if you’re not swept away…

I think it’s now time for me to fetch some boiling water and make myself a cup. Would you care to join me?


  1. AndrewBoldman said,

    June 4, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

    da best. Keep it going! Thank you

  2. Richard J McPhalrin said,

    July 13, 2009 @ 9:27 am

    well written article, I think our views on MrKurtNielsen.com » Ridin’ the Sanka Train differ a little however you put foward some good points


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