In my childhood, along with the bottles of Coca Cola we all swigged through peanuts poured into the bottle neck, there were the dark brown bottles of Orange Crush. Of the two, the latter was always my favorite, but the growing popularity of Coke had already begun to nudge Orange Crush from the cold drink machines. Fact was, the Coca Cola company had already taken over those machines, all painted red with the white Coca Cola lettering. Still, the old Orange Crush soda pop in the dark brown ridged bottles was No. 1 with me.
Back in March of 2006, while browsing in Tokyo’s pen boutique Shosaikan, I came upon an ink from Private Reserve named Orange Crush. It had been years since those words had come to mind, and before even picking up the bottle of ink, I experienced a flood of Orange Crush memories that momentarily overrode any thoughts of ink and fountain pens. My head was quickly filled with images of a time before soft drinks thunked out of change-making vending machines, of the days when you reached an arm down into the icy water of a big, boxy, red cooler full of things like RC Cola, Nehi Strawberry and Orange Crush.
But back to the ink, I’m sure I would have bought it for the name alone, even if the color had not been to my liking. Stores in Japan allow customers to sample inks and fountain pens, and pretty soon I had a page filled with Orange Crush squiggles, doodles and lines of gibberish. True enough, the color did ring true to the old Orange Crush memories, and I bought a bottle.
It turned out to be a disappointing experience for me, and very likely for many other customers as well. The Private Reserve ink held true for about one month, and then the color became corrupted through some quirk in the chemistry. I returned to Shosaikan and learned that the store’s entire stock of Orange Crush had suffered the same horrible fate of alchemy. The ink turned an ugly, dirty yellow, and was consigned to a back corner of the ink cupboard.
Fast forward four and a half years and a package of autumn Inkdrop samples arrive in the mail. Among the six sample inks is that old, and hopefully improved Orange Crush from Private Reserve.
That same nostalgic thrill was missing this time around, and it’s only a couple of weeks later that I’ve gotten around to giving the ‘new’ ink a look-see.
Best thing about this ink, apart from the evocative name and richness of burnt orange color, is the shading. I just might have a hard time finding another ink that shades as BEAUTIFULLY as this Private Reserve Orange Crush. A similar color is available from Noodler’s called Cayenne, but the shading of that ink doesn't even approach this Private Reserve orange.
For those who want a more detailed description and comparison, I recommend the recent review of Orange Crush at Ink Nouveau.