There’s an Albertson’s right near where I work, and the other night I actually had to stop in there to pick up a few items we needed for dinner. I’ve never been particularly fond of Albertson’s, and have always generally thought of them as being an exceptionally uninteresting grocery chain. It doesn’t seem like they’ve ever really been known for anything, except for taking over all the Lucky stores.

Nevertheless, there I was. As I made my way toward the checkout line after finding the stuff we needed, it occurred to me that Albertson’s was the ideal place to look for a lame store brand Dr. Pepper ripoff. I turned around and strode quickly down the Soda and Beverages aisle.

I examined the shelves, scanning the rows of cheap 2-liter store brand soda bottles for anything with a dark red label. ‘They must have a fake Doctor in here’, I thought to myself. An instant later, my eyes found it.

Ladies and gentlemen,
meet Dr. Bold.

I grabbed one and put it in my basket. I was at last ready for the checkout line, and quite eager to test the quality of this newly-discovered Doctor Pepper imposter. I was actually pretty stoked that such things do still exist, and that I had actually found one in its natural habitat.

eduardo_mountainmaze_large.jpgBefore I left, though, I had to take this picture of what I think should get some kind of award for World’s Most Poorly-Named Soda.
I mean, Dr. Bold is lame enough, but at least the ‘Bold’ can be considered somewhat relevant. I don’t think you could say the same for Mountain Maze, no matter how you look at it. What the heck were they thinking? Is the flavor “complex”, like a fine wine (or… a MAZE)? Does the flavor come charging at you like an enraged minotaur guarding his labyrinth?
I can understand the obvious Mountain Dew tie-in, and even the “extreme” design approach – but can’t fathom why they’d want to incorporate the word MAZE into the name.

Maybe a group of uninspired product managers had a meeting that ended with one of them saying  “Look, who cares what we call it? Nobody even sees this stuff. It’s 5:45 already, and we all need to be somewhere. Jim came up with ‘Mountain Maze’, and I say let’s just go with it.”
Let us also not forget that there is a whole world of knockoff citrus sodas that mimic Mountain Dew the same way that the fake Doctors rip off Dr. Pepper. I would personally very much like to get my hands on a cold can of Mountain Holler, which deserves an award for being the World’s Most Awesomely-Named Soda.

Anyway, upon arriving home I made sure that the good Doctor was promptly stored in the fridge. I wanted to ensure that it’d be properly chilled before the first taste test I’d planned for after dinner.
After we’d finished eating an hour later, I unscrewed the cap and heard the expected PSSSSHHHHHHFFFFFTTTTTT sound of a properly carbonated 2-liter soda bottle. I poured myself a glass of the rich dark brown liquid, gazed into the fizzy bubbles, and braced myself for what I expected to be a bold experience.
I took a drink, and…


It was bland.
For a moment, I felt betrayed. I wanted my 69 cents back. This was not a bold drink by any stretch of the imagination. It tasted like watered-down Coke mixed with watered-down Dr. Pepper. Even so, I wouldn’t say it was completely gross. It was definitely passable as a cheap generic soda, but had no business calling itself Dr. Bold. I think Dr. Bland would probably be a more appropriate name.
I finished my drink and returned the bottle to the fridge, unsure of whether I’d ever feel the need to have more.

A few mornings later as I was getting milk for some cereal, I was faced with the reality that I still had the better part of two liters of Dr. Bold that needed to be dealt with. I’m not a big soda drinker in the first place, and considered just pouring it down the drain. However, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I decided to keep it.

I’m certainly glad I did, because nothing says romance like Dr. Bold.