EDitorial ± 21-Oct-2002

Dead Beetles

My unrelenting quest for interesting soft drinks can, at times, be frustrating. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't get into yuppy-ish Aqua Libra. Good ol' Schloer is a little been-there-done-that these days, while Fentiman's is good on occasions but has all the delicacy of a scorched earth policy.

So, on Saturday night, I found myself imbibing a bottle of Lizard Fuel (TM), thanks to some thoughtful friends. This "strawberry banana flavored (sic) beverage" proclaimed itself to be "loaded with herbal energy". Any good? Can't say I'd have it again, but what made it vaguely interesting was the list of ingredients:

Filtered water, fructose-glucose syrup, skimmed milk, sugar, cream, stabliser: pectin, citric acid, natural flavours, lactic acid, natural colour: cochineal extract, vitamin C, astragalus membraneus root extract, yerba mate extract, Siberian ginseng root extract

Best thing about it is the fancy bottle, truth be told

It wasn't those penultimate and antepenultimate extracts that caught my eye, whatever they are, but that natural colour: cochineal. Would most likely have passed me by completely, but I was sitting opposite (say it quietly) a vegetarian, and, as all we half-educated types know, cochineal is made from crushed beetles.

In my big book of stuff, skipping past Cochabamba (Bolivia's third largest city), Cochin (18th century French engraver) and Cochinchina (south Vietnamese region), we come to cochineal. My veggy mate had said, jokingly I thought, that it was made only from female insects: turns out he's right.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

Better red than dead - some cochineal factoids:

  1. consists of the dried, pulverized bodies of cactus-eating lady members of Dactylopius coccus
  2. artificial alternatives prevail, but the real McCoy continues to be used in cosmetics and beverages
  3. one pound of cochineal takes 70,000 insects

Be seeing you!