Apple Juice With a Bacon Swizzle Stick

I miss apple juice.

Or maybe it’s the idea of apple juice I miss. I just had a cup last week in the hospital. It was the first beverage I drank that actually had flavor following my surgery. After days of being hooked up to an IV and subsisting on nothing more than ice water, it tasted like a nectar from the gods. Sweet and succulent and oh, so delicious. Paired with chicken broth, I felt like I was dining on lobster and champagne that evening.

Arsenic? Lead? Sugar? Yummy! (Courtesy of

But then, the very next day, I started hearing news reports about how apple juice is no good for you. How this study showed that dangerous levels of arsenic were found in samples of apple juice. Damn you, Dr. Oz and FOX News. You’re both nothing but a bunch of killjoys! If I want to ingest poison, I should be able to do so without feeling guilty about it. The FDA is saying hey, relax, arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil, and we need to stop getting our panties in a bunch because the levels found in apple juice are well within accepted safety standards. Consumer Reports says those standards are much too high and need to be lowered, and the whole thing has turned into one big pissing match. The loser? Me! Because now I’m going to think twice before drinking apple juice, and that’s just sad. Even without worrying about arsenic (and lead, too – when it rains, it pours), they say apple juice contains too much sugar, is high in calories, etc. They’re vilifying it like the poor ol’, much-maligned Big Mac.

That ain’t right.

You know what else I miss? Bacon. Ever since I landed in the hospital, I’ve had to contend with well-meaning friends who keep telling me to “lay off the bacon” now. For some reason, over the years I have developed a reputation as a person who loves bacon. Well, okay…I do love bacon. Fair enough. But I don’t eat any more of it than the average person! It’s an occasional treat and nothing more. Boy, you write one blog post about the maple bacon bar at Voodoo Doughnut and you’re branded for life. And okay, I suppose in retrospect buying that bottle of bacon vodka a couple of months ago didn’t help. Nor did posting a picture of the chicken fried bacon Tara, the kids and I enjoyed  at Slappy Cakes the day before Thanksgiving…which, coincidentally, happened to be two days before I ended up in the hospital. In my defense – in all of our defenses – we split two pieces four ways. It was merely a decadent taste. But oh, how everybody latched onto that when I was suddenly near death hooked up to an IV in great pain. The truth is, I first started feeling sick after eating leftover turkey that morning, a food that is generally considered to be healthy. There’s no rhyme or reason for what happened to me. Was it related to diet? Perhaps, or it may have been the trigger, or none of the above. Even the doctors don’t know. Now, I am not complaining about my friends’ admonitions or warnings. It just means they care about me and want to see me healthy, and I appreciate that very much. I intend to take care of myself, and have already made adjustments toward a lower-fat, less-sodium diet. I am also stubborn – that would be the Taurus in me – and maintain a philosophy that life is too short to give up everything that makes you happy, and practicing moderation is key. I believe in long-term goals and short-term indulgences, and intend to partake in both.

At least I didn't cook my turkey like this! (Courtesy of

In fact, I’m kinda feeling like a nice, tall glass of apple juice right now. With a crispy strip of bacon for stirring.

And then there’s alcohol. I haven’t had a sip in fourteen days, which is some kind of record for me. Am I a teetotaler now? Ha! Fat chance. I am way too addicted to Bloody Marys to ever give them up, and I’ve even started liking beer now. It’s just that I haven’t felt like having a drink since getting sick. Every doctor and nurse in the hospital asked me if I was a drinker, and I said socially, which by my definition was 1-2 drinks a day, five days a week. Nobody ever looked alarmed when I said that, but the news wasn’t exactly met with approving glances, either. One nurse suggested my sweaty brow might have been a reaction to booze withdrawal, but in reality the thermostat was simply too freakin’ high in the room. I was actually offended by her comment – can’t a guy perspire without getting the second degree?! –  and the moment she left I snuck a few shots of whiskey in order to forget the sting of her words.

I kid, I kid.

And I will be the first to admit that a near-daily Happy Hour was more of a ritual or a habit for me than anything else. Tsk, tsk – I know. I considered it almost a birthright; I’m a writer, after all, and we stereotypically have a long and prosperous association with alcohol. I have come to realize, since returning home, that the slight buzz does not make up for all those empty calories. I will still enjoy the occasional drink – but it’ll be when I feel like it, not because it’s 3:55 5:00. Once again, it’s all about moderation.

Love the concern, appreciate the advice, but don’t you worry – I don’t intend on going anywhere (and by that, I mean dying) anytime soon.

A trip to Ely, on the other hand, is right around the corner. In seventeen more days!

And if you think I’m stepping onto an airplane without a drink or two to calm my nerves, you’re out of your mind.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

23 thoughts on “Apple Juice With a Bacon Swizzle Stick

  1. If it makes you feel better, when I told Doctor Love about your gallstone attacked, she said that in her medical residency she saw a ton of them around Thanksgiving… that is very common around Thanksgiving. For whatever that’s worth. So glad you’re doing better.


    1. Interesting! Maybe it’s just the fact that people eat more on that day than any other? Seems like it would be a good triggering mechanism. I gotta say, next Thanksgiving I’m going to be a little nervous remembering what happened this year!


  2. Arsenic?! I thought it was cyanide that apples had in them. Bummer. It’s the calories that stop me from drinking much apple juice though, much as it is a delightful and refreshing beverage.


    1. Cyanide is probably worse than arsenic! Unless you prefer a quick death to a slow one, I suppose. And you’re right, apple juice IS a delightful and refreshing beverage! One with a bad rep now, sadly.


  3. Ever since Ross had his gal bladder out (a long time ago), he has problems processing fat (and I’ll let you use your imagination on that!). But he still eats bacon and all the good stuff.

    I stay away from juice all together, just because it’s chock full of sugars. I’d rather EAT something with a lot of sugar than drink it. But that’s just me.

    I showed Ross the turkey with bacon on it, and he said “Yeah,THAT’S got potential!”

    You need to make the bacon-explosion from the book “Bacon Makes Everything Better” and watch your gut explode. THAT, I will pay money to see!


    1. The doctors said the body processes fat differently, but most people won’t even notice. Guess Ross is one of the lucky few who does. Hey, maybe he should play the lottery!

      And I agree with you about eating something sugary rather than drinking it. In a battle between chocolate cake and apple juice, the cake is going to win my heart every time!


  4. I heard the arsenic is in the seeds, no? It would make sense, that they throw in the whole apple…millions of apples is going to give off a high volume of arsenic. Dude, you know what else makes sense? If you’re craving apple juice, it’s because apple juice helps break down gall stones, and makes them softer so that they can pass through your system! Did you know that? Your body knows what you need, and don’t need…so just listen.
    At my farmer’s market, this guy sells apple juice, which in my opinion is better than Mott’s or I go to Whole Foods or any place where they juice fruits and vegetables and ask for an apple and carrot combo. Plus, they’re not going to throw in the core of the apple, so you’re not getting arsenic in your juice 🙂 It’s not something I crave everyday, but when I don’t feel good because of my gall stones. (which result from a shitty diet, no lie…) then I go on a juice, fruits, vegetables and salmon diet. I don’t know why I don’t stick to it, it always makes me feel better and more full than when I eat crappy.

    I really really love these juices. The Green Machine looks gross, but doesn’t taste at all like it looks! Even Scott tried it and was surprised at how good it was.
    They have all kinds of juices, so whatever you’re craving..


    1. With a name like Naked Juice, it’s gotta be good! I’ll check it out, Esther. Thanks for the link. And as far as arsenic being in the seeds, I have no idea, but you’re right – that would make sense.


  5. Well, I don’t drink apple juice but I LOVE apples, and I eat quite a lot throughout the week – probably about 5-6 apples a week. So I wonder if apples have arsenic in them too?

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, ” Once again, it’s all about moderation.”

    I eat like a true Italian – I eat and drink everything I enjoy (coffee, chocolate, pasta, red wine, meat, salads) but in small portions.

    “a philosophy that life is too short to give up everything that makes you happy, and practicing moderation is key.”

    You said it, buddy!


  6. I’m getting tired of everybody saying what’s wrong with this or that. I’m over 50 and I will continue the way I have been my whole life and if I die because of it, at least I’ll die happy and enjoying what I love. I may not be as thin as I was 15 years ago, but I don’t care about that either. Whom am I trying to impress anyway? My honey loves me just the way I am.

    So Mark, enjoy yourself the way you want and not the way people tell you to. You know yourself better than anybody, obviously.

    Live to love and love to live. Yep…that sums it up pretty darn well!!


    1. I love the way you think, Tracy! And I have always echoed your sentiment: I’d rather die happy while enjoying what I love.

      Of course, all things considered, I’d prefer not to die at all. Or, you know…much, much later.


  7. I will never judge you for writing a whole post about the maple bacon bar, or bloody marys. I think both are exceptional.

    Glad you’re doing better, gaining more taste buds as we speak, and planning another trip to Ely. Hope you both get to enjoy it more this time!


    1. Nope, not Minnesota – Nevada (though apparently it’s every bit as cold there as in your neck of the woods). My girlfriend lives there (for now) so I’ll be spending Christmas-New Year’s out that way!


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