No matter if you brought a paper bag, or a Real Ghostbusters lunchbox, our school lunches back in the day had one common denominator: The drink box. For you sticklers out there, you know this isn’t totally true since the ritzier kids with major coin always had a shiny silver pouch of Capri Sun. But, whatever, fuck those pretentious bastards. Some kids’ parents went through the painstaking work of pouring an actual drink into a thermos! Now that was luxury! Still, even the most top of the line thermos lacked the ability to momentarily enchant your senses quite like Ssips did. The neat little artwork on your Darth Vader or Dukes of Hazzard thermos didn’t change from day to day, but the drink box DID!
In the ’80s, Ssips drink boxes were all white and featured an animated picture of its fruit flavored contents. The box was an indicator of the copious amount of fruit flavors that Ssips brought to the lunch table. You could suck down different flavors every day, or maybe if you felt more intellectual, an Iced Tea perhaps. It was like opening a pack of baseball cards and getting a card that you didn’t have. Whatever flavor you got, Ssips brought the party.
For the majority of us middle class suburban kids, lunch time was a guessing game. “What did my mom/dad put in my lunch today?” was a question we all asked at one time or another. The game grew dull rapidly, and at some point, we stopped paying attention and just mauled the sandwich, side dish (bag of chips), and dessert (Little Debbie snack cake) while fantasizing that we were really inhaling a big juicy burger or a nice big plate of Chicken Parm.
Now that I’m a big kid, the cliffhangers are gone. Leftovers in a Tupperware leave nothing to the imagination. The rather unexciting simplicity of finding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich wrapped in aluminum foil used to actually be a welcome surprise considering there were times when the contents of the foil yielded a slab of liverwurst in between 2 slices of bread. The real whammy came when you discovered what flavor Ssips was in store for you.
We all had our little Ssips rituals, didn’t we? I remember some kids would finish their Ssips, then they’d take the box outside, blow into the straw until the box inflated and then throw it on the ground. Then with a powerful STOMP, the box would make a loud pop that would echo all over school property. Kids do some lame things for entertainment, don’t they? As for my Ssips technique, I’d rip the straw out from its confining cellophane, then unbend the flexible part, and proceed to stab the hole in the box with it. Most of the time it went in on the first try, but other times, it took some really furious pounding to get it in if you know what I mean.
One of my favorite flavors was Grape which was so tangy that it burned my throat going down. It was like the young man’s Johnnie Walker Blue.