The recent hubbub on BYU’s campus about the selling of caffeinated drinks misses the mark. Sure, there is some demand for caffeine; this is a college campus. It’s not about the flavor. It’s about sleeping too little and needing a boost to remain conscious through early morning or afternoon classes. (Is there any class harder to stay awake through than the one after lunch when they turn down the lights and start showing slides?) Or it’s about living up to your personal standards, which may or may not align with those of other Honor Code compliant students, faculty, and staff. (I almost wrote Honor Code complaint; that is clearly not the purpose of this post.)
As for it being too difficult for BYU food services to change the syrups and labels on their on tap offerings, or stocking a different selection of beverages in their machines, to that I say pfui. That can’t be harder than stocking caffeine-free diet Mountain Dew.
But the great failing of BYU’s soda selection has nothing to do with caffeine: it is the complete absence of Ironport, also called Iron Port (two words), from the Cougareat. I discovered Ironport at a couple of the little independent hamburger joints here in Provo. It’s a locally distributed soda rumored to be named after Porter Rockwell. The merits of its flavor are not the point; this is an idiosyncratic Mormon country drink that nods to one of the most colorful characters in our history. If there is any place that should serve Ironport, it’s BYU. I can’t think of anything on campus, no building at least, named after Porter Rockwell. He’s not known for his contributions to scholarship and academia, but unlike many of the Heritage Halls namesakes’, for example, Rockwell is at least known to anyone who has a passing knowledge of LDS history.
I think a beverage is a great little tribute BYU could pay to Rockwell (even if the brew was not in fact originally named for him). And if BYU does ever allow regular Coke on campus, we could all tip our hats to President McKay who once said, “I don’t care what it says on the cup, as long as there is a Coke in the cup” (David O. McKay and The Rise of Modern Mormonism, p.23).
My thanks to Wikipedia that gave some backstory to this little beverage I discovered at the Rocky Mountain Drive on State Street in Provo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironport_(beverage)). And don’t forget the check out the Ironport fan blog here.