Lucy Wrubel’s Certified Guide To The Cafeteria Cooler

Wrubel prepares her expert tastebuds in front of the drink cooler with Caroline Skok.

Photo credit: @cafcraves

Wrubel prepares her expert tastebuds in front of the drink cooler with Caroline Skok.

DISCLAIMER: The content below has been written by me, Lucy Wrubel, in collaboration with the opinions of junior Kiran Matthews, and English teacher Mr. Mahany. While the information in this article has been verified to the best of “The Parker Weekly’s” abilities, I do need to forewarn you all of the fact that yes, I do like kombucha. I know some people will have a problem with my liking of the apparently vinegary, earthy, and occasionally pulpy beverage. If this knowledge breaks the trust you have for my taste buds, I highly advise you to stop reading at this point. Thank you. 

Every day, I brave the assortment of options in the cafeteria. I walk through and typically get the hot lunch, then decide which drink I would like to accompany my lunch. What I have done is buy one flavor that interests me the most of every drink in Parker’s coolers to alleviate the stress from this big decision. 

Here’s how this is going to work: Chef Zac has provided us with the average number of each drink purchased per week. This will unveil Parker’s favorites, least favorites, and everything in between. I will compare these statistics to my professional opinion and see how they differ. 

I am going to start from the bottom with Kombucha. I’ve been over how I feel on this one, though, so you know that to me it feels like starting from the top. But either way, the statistics for this drink shocked me. On average, 50 kombuchas are bought each week. All I have to say is that I’m disappointed in this low statistic. Mahany, when asked his thoughts on Kombucha, says “I don’t eat it ever. What is that?” Moving on. 

Coming in second to last are the juice boxes. This hurts me as well. These sweet, small, addictive beverages deserve better. My only critique is the size. For the sake of this article, I did an experiment and found that I can actually finish the entire juice box in just four sips. Either way, only 165 are sold per week. That means 660 sips of juice, which means 132 sips a day, which to me, means basically nothing. These juice boxes deserve better. 

Up next: Naked juices at 211 per week. This number comes from 75 small bottles and 136 larges. I can’t say I’m surprised by this. I’ve always been afraid to try these, but I had to brave the murkiness for this review, and I wasn’t into it. I’m not sure if I actually don’t like it or if I just get into my head about the idea of the drink, but I won’t be buying it again. I also might have brought that negative review on myself by getting the Green Machine flavor. Mahany had a slightly more positive take on it: “It’s sweeter than I thought it would be. It’s disgusting looking but not terrible. I thought I would hate it.” 

The next three drinks all fall pretty close together, and I’m not surprised at all. San Pellegrino at 230, Organic Milk at 240, and La Croix/Bubly at 245. I have few words for milk. It’s just milk. There’s not much else to it. I do appreciate the wide variety offered though, and I bet that the lactose-intolerant students out there appreciate it even more.

As for the San Pellegrino and La Croix/Bublys, these drinks have both been staples at my house since I was young, and I’m not surprised they fall right in the middle of this drink popularity scale. Okay, okay. If you insist, I will address the humongous elephant in the room. The renowned La Croix vs. Bubly debate… I’m team La Croix. Always was, always will be.

Coming just short of the top three are Sparkling Ice drinks. These have been a new addition to the cafeteria this year, and I’m really glad that they have decided to join us because their thirst-quenching goodness is exactly what I need sometimes. I love all four flavors that are offered: lemonade, blackberry, mango, and raspberry. I’ve found that when I take over an hour or two to finish this drink, it loses its carbonation and turns into dull, barely-flavored water. Don’t get me wrong though, I love this addition. 

Okay—things are getting serious now. In third place, we have the assorted Pure Leaf Iced Teas. I’m proud of this stat because these drinks are new to the cafeteria this year and are doing really well at 370 a week. Once I saw the variety of flavors with these teas, I got a little trigger happy, broke my protocol, and bought every flavor they had to offer: unsweetened, sweet, lemon, raspberry, and subtly sweet peach. I was pretty disappointed by the unsweetened and sweetened flavors. Maybe black tea is just supposed to taste like nothing, but I found them both very bland. Mr. Mahany and I agreed on the ranking for the other three. In third place, subtly sweet peach; in second place, raspberry; and in first place, lemon. 

Second place, and pretty standard in my opinion, are Tropicana beverages that come in at 390 per week. Parker offers orange juice, lemonade, Island Punch, cranberry juice, grape juice, apple juice, and grapefruit juice. I’m not a big Tropicana drinker myself, and some of my friends are grapefruit juice addicts, but I find it way too bitter. The other Tropicana juices are okay, but I usually only find these drinks appetizing in the morning.

While on the topic of Tropicana, let’s address its newest competitor: Sunraysia orange juice. I was fooled by the boujee name and look, expecting big things. When I actually tasted it, though, I was met with a mouthful of 85% pulp. Matthews captured it perfectly: “It smells like feet and it tastes like a worse version of McDonald’s orange juice.” I’m with him on this one. 

And finally, there’s water. Shocker. If you have seen any hallway in the school this year, I’m sure that it won’t come as a surprise to you that these bottled waters come in first place by a landslide, at 850 per week. Brava, Parker. Saving the environment one water bottle at a time, I see. All efforts to eliminate this waste have failed, including smaller water bottles so that it’s actually finishable, and extra reusable water bottles for people in the halls. I feel like there’s got to be a better solution, but for now, 850 plastic water bottles a week will have to do. 

Suddenly, I’m thirsty.