Driving by the Tulsa Twelfth Night bonfire, circa 2002.
Every Jan. 6, Epiphany, in Tulsa, Okla., where I used to live, people pile their spent Christmas trees in a city park — a mound of dry evergreenery sometimes reaching 10-12 stories — and then light a match. They burn 'em in a giant, gnarly red bonfire. It's a celebration of Twelfth Night, with throngs of people gathered 'round, usually warming themselves appreciatively on a frigid night. I always loved the idea that this funky new-year baptism/orgy of pagan fire was sponsored by the municipal government in Oral Roberts' hometown.
You'd think there'd be a lot of pipin' hot coffee and such served at such an event, but the only warm beverage peddled from a cart at Tulsa's Twelfth Night is an unusual creation: hot Dr Pepper. I know, sounds revolting. Hot Coke, for instance — I've tried it, absolutely God-awful. But whatever the secret ingredient of Dr Pepper really is, it works well warmed up. The trick, though: you have to add lemon. The soda-maker's official recipe calls for a mug o' Dr Pepper heated (on the stove or the microwave) to 180 degrees and poured over a slice or two of lemon added.
Try it. Trust me. As a friend of mine loves to say, we can't hide from our white-trash heritage. This is a mulled wine for the American masses.