So what led to all this? A bit of digging reveals that it might have been my high school chemistry book to blame: one exercise specifically mentioned the drink as a way to teach about concentration: a little too much syrup and “you’d feel disgusted”.
There is, however, a slight catch. Mint syrup is not available on the Dutch market yet. Sure, there might be ‘lemon-mint blends’ or ‘virgin mojito specials’, but those are but feeble simulacra of the Green Giant’s nectar and taste nothing like the real thing. No, this green stuff is something more of the French-speaking countries.
But surely, there must be a way to get mint syrup somewhere in the Netherlands? Well, there are import options to consider, such as getting it via a detour through electronics shops, but spending €7 on a single bottle of toothpaste broth feels like a bit of a waste. However, I found out that the most cost-effective way of getting the stuff is to simply know who in my social circle is in French territory at points in time. Trade routes were established, bottles passed under tables during lectures, paper cups were filled.
My parents were one of the first to get in on the stuff with me: the bottles started coming in more and more regularly. One per month at first, two, six. At a certain point, the excitement turned to expectation, with the bottles becoming no more of an oddity than the air in the room. Eventually, groups were set up to coordinate the effort and looked for places in the Dutch market to fit in the stuff. I tried making it myself in the kitchen with some leaves, sugar and boiling water: the colour looked like piss, but the taste got there, eventually.
As it turns out, there are many different ways of making something out of the syrup: Southern France has something called the ‘Diabolo’, or devil. Base of mint syrup, mixed with Sprite, 7Up or something similar, add a mint leaf for flair and voilà. I figured that a bit of seltzer mixed with the syrup and a bit of ice would make for an excellent nightcap: this might induce a temporary sugar-high, but cause the user to doze off quickly afterwards.
Once the right mixture was found, I started thinking about pitching to beverage companies with the groups. Though sceptical at first, after a few drinks the negotiations went a lot smoother. It happened one hot spring night, when my empire of bottles began to take over. The details of the event must have been lost on me, because I wasn’t expecting it in any way, though in hindsight, the clues were always there. The aluminium castle blocking the doorway. Flies getting stuck in the goo. Undelivered packages. Texts. Neighbours on a detour.
As I was going out for the daily nightcap, one of the bottles fell from the countertop, causing me to trip and fall.
Vitamins and other nutrients were added to the mixture, which proved to be very beneficial for new markets: with a low cost of production and easy access to resources, many markets took up the syrup in their diet. It is rumoured that the Coca-Cola Company sent out letters, begging, though the groups never responded to any of them. It didn’t take long for them to get merged.
Years passed. Despite everything, production went steadily upwards and with the added support of automation and resource extraction, syrup overtook water quicker than expected. It is rumoured that it became more or less the only viable option in many countries, even though concerns were raised about the soil depletion caused by sugar and mint as an invasive species. It didn’t take long for those rumours to be considered invasive too.
I woke up in a field of burning sugar cane. The sky looked funny. Bottles were scattered across the field, some opened up with sharp objects, building up light inside, igniting the fires. The whirring reflections of bottles moving around was dizzying. It smelled. Looking around, the horizon was mostly empty, except for what appeared to be two church spires, standing amidst the aluminium rubble. While looking at the silvery green moon, I dozed back off.