A Cooler Coke: HiT Lulo
Yes, that's a Build-A-Bear in the background.
Each Tuesday and Thursday for the next few weeks, we'll be taking a look at alternatives to cokes for the sticky Houston summer that lies ahead.
And so here we are.
A Cooler Coke has finally hit (pardon the pun) a roadblock in attempting to discover the origins of HiT. I found this odd, green-colored, glass-bottled drink in the refrigerated drink case at Phoenicia. I think it's from Spain, as far as I can tell from the inscription that reads "Importado Por: España: Marindus S.L." And that's about it.
Searching for the drink on Google or any other search engine turns up little else except for a drink that's also called Hit, but seems to be unrelated in both its provenance and spelling to HiT Lulo.
What's more interesting, however, is what the drink is made out of.
Lulo is also called naranjilla, the more familiar name for a fascinating fruit from Ecuador and Colombia. It looks like a fat, ripe tomato on the outside, while the inside looks like a cross between a green tomato and an orange. Yes, an orange (hence the name).
The taste of the naranjilla is best described as citrusy, although quite a bit tarter than you'd expect from an orange or even a Meyer lemon. Wikipedia describes the taste as somewhere between rhubarb and lime, and that's fairly apt. Although the non-scientific nomenclature and the citrusy taste might lead one to believe that it's a citrus fruit, it's actually closer to a tomato and is a member of the nightshade family.
HiT Lulo seems to think the best way to enhance the taste of the tart naranjilla is to dose the drink with enough sugar to feed all the picnic ants from here until the end of time. It's awful. It's as if someone took Spree candy and blended it with ice, then strained the result into a beverage.
In short, HiT Lulo is not recommended unless you're a connoisseur of dipping Sour Patch Kids into a mound of sugar. And if you are...God speed, my friend.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.