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Crystal Pepsi was murdered: Our top five misunderstood foods and drinks

Gone but not forgotten.
Gone but not forgotten.

So many edibles and drinkables, so many myths: Organic is automatically healthier than conventional, macaroons are poised to be a huge food trend, sushi is really posh and socially assigned to be attractive yuppie chow, and real foodies will unfailingly watch every single episode of Top Chef.

Misunderstandings about foods and beverages are often based on negative perceptions, but unpopular doesn't necessarily equal bad -- just like popular things aren't always that great. This explains wasabi-flavored Funyuns, Andrew Zimmern and Stovetop cranberry stuffing. But tragically, some snacks and brews were so misconstrued that they were systematically eradicated from store shelves, and now they deserve an elucidated obituary. Here are our top five misunderstood foods and drinks.

5. Zima.

This bubbling, devil-may-care adult beverage had style, class and attitude. Okay, maybe it didn't have the first two things going for it, but the Zima pimps' clever and demographically targeted ad campaign triggered our inner devils and helped us kick our better angels square in their androgynous heinies every Saturday night. The grave misunderstanding about Zima was that it was a great drink for adults to sip while at prim, garden-party social functions at country clubs and golf courses all over the U. S. of A.

Nope, nope, ya bunch of dopes. Zima's Beezlebubbles were one of the greatest aphrodisiacs of Gen X.....who, at the time of inception, were mostly underage as all get-up. Nothing pleased me more when I was seventeen than to down a sixer of Zimas, pretend to love listening to Live, then get nakied and takied by my seventeen-year-old boyfriend, who really thought that "Lightning Crashes" was a good song.

4. Oscar Mayer cheese dogs.

By now everyone on the face of the earth knows exactly what hot dogs are made of, and the magnitude of cognitive dissonance that accompanies folks chomping them down is the stuff scientists should be getting federal tax dollars to study. People don't give a chubby pork fart about what's in a hot dog. But if Oscar Mayer decides to create a processed-cheese-stuffed dog that makes America the envy of other civilizations, then, all of a sudden, they've gone too far.

The cruel, ugly misunderstanding came when a few health-nut haters tried to disparage the miraculous creation that was the cheese dog, when in reality the dogs were a stroke of creative genius in an era when people needed comfort. And it would be a crime not to mention Hormel Frank 'n Stuffs, the cheap chili-stuffed doppelgangers that met the same, shameful demise. These injected wieners deserved to grace the mouths of men, women and children, but now are stuffed into the annals of history, only to be remembered as a small part of a bigger, better time.

3. McDonald's fried apple pies.

Damn granola-suckling health nutters killed and buried these classic deep-fried desserts without so much as a pauper's grave. The misunderstanding about diminutive rectangles of apple pie fried in yummy-gummy fat was not really that they were bad for you; it was that everyone cared about it. If the sweaty masses really wanted to stay healthy, stealthy and wise, then they wouldn't have been cramming their gobs with anything from McDoober's in the first place. And while maybe the baked versions are slightly better for you, nutritionally speaking, it would behoove the general public to check the nutrition facts on the baked pies. But I doubt anyone will, because, shockingly enough,NOBODY CARES NOW, EITHER.

2. Olestra chips.

Fat-free Doritos? The very idea of getting to scorf down luminescent-orange-powdered corn chips without the resulting continent-sized ass development is one of the many things that made the '90s a superior decade to live in. Then the bomb dropped: Packing our collective pierogi-holes with Olestra chips would have us dropping bombs.

This is truly where the misunderstanding becomes heartrending. A wee bit of anal leakage should not have been a deterrent to our mass enjoyment of snack chips, since adult Pull-Ups would have been such a small price to pay. Consumers pussed out and quit buying Olestra chips, at least until they were renamed "Light" rather than "WOW." A few smarties came out the other end of the olestra situation realizing that eating an entire bag of olestra chips rather than a reasonable portion of regular fatted ones was still not a particularly health-conscious choice, but who needs to use brains when you have a bagful of chips to plunder?

1. Crystal Pepsi.

This is the true muthafucka of all misunderstood swills, and my heart has never really been whole since being sewn back together after the murder of Crystal Pepsi in 1993. Government-subsidized therapy can only heal so much. This soda was an exercise in effervescent precision: It was a cola that wasn't brown, a clear sparkler that wasn't Sprite, and it tasted unlike anything we'd ever tasted in a soft drink before -- although to this very day I cannot figure out exactly what that taste was.

But instead of being placated by bread and circuses, the Roman-esque citizenry shunned the clear alternative to regular Pepsi and stabbed it in the toga until it was quite simply dead, and Pepsi execs stood accessory to the crime. Et tu, PepsiCo? Bring it back, and atone for your past mortal sin, sirs and madams, because a case of this stuff on eBay costs about as much as a mortgage payment with a variable interest rate, and if there is a petition floating around to resurrect Crystal Pepsi like the Christ, then I will sign it early and often.

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