Treasure of the Communal Refrigerator: A&W Float Soda

Like many apartment complexes, my husband's building has a "lounge" area with free wifi, a kitchen, and a communal fridge. I say "communal," because all residents are welcome to store food in it and it seems to be the general understanding that unlabeled, unsigned food is up for grabs to the whole community. At least I hope so.

Although I'm not so shameless as to raid the fridge for my daily sustenance, sometimes I like to poke around in the hopes of finding an extra bagel leftover from the board meeting catering or a splash of milk for my tea.

But a few days ago, I spotted a mysterious new item in the refrigerator, a bottle of A&W Root Beer Float. This line of beverages (which also includes a Sunkist Orange Cream Soda flavor) debuted in early 2008 but seemed to disappear from supermarket shelves a year or two later. I generally am interested in ice cream floats, and therefore was game to try this all-in-one float-in-a-bottle treat but never got around to it. (Readers, if I have been blind to the presence of Float soda in Houston, please let me know.)

I was thrilled to spot what I assumed was the extinct A&W Float, but restrained myself from snatching it lest someone was saving it for their lunch. A few days passed, and no one claimed it. I asked around, and no one owned up to putting it the fridge. So, ten days after my initial sighting, I felt justified in helping myself.

With 260 calories for an 11.5-ounce bottle, A&W Float was a predictably saccharine beverage, resembling over-milked tea in color and tasting more of faux root beer than of ice cream. The consistency was simultaneously thick and watery, with the solutes visibly separating from the solvent around the circumference of the bottle. Definitely a far cry from a the bubbly, creamy float one might make at home. If I had poured A&W Float into a short glass with two ice cubes, donned a robe, and proclaimed myself "The Dude," no one would be the wiser.

There's no telling how long its previous owner had this bottle, so perhaps it was way past its prime. No retests have been completed because I have yet to spot another Float in stores. My sincere gratitude to the mysterious resident who made this donation to the communal fridge, as I would have spent the rest of my life wondering, what if?

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Joanna O'Leary