Anyone who has heard five minutes of hack comedy about being high has heard the old adage about not shopping whilst stoned.
Speaking as someone who loathes every part of the consumer experience, from an abundance of mediocre products competing for attention to the malaise of strangers going through the motions, smoking a little pot is one of the few things that can make it bearable. They’ve lied, constantly cautioning us about walking out with so many bags of Doritos that we’ll struggle to carry them all back to our mother’s basements.
This week, I set out with half a joint of Strawberry Cough to explore the intersection of commerce and consumption, winding up on an unexpected mission.
Strawberry Cough by the numbers: $33.02/eighth, $235.35/ounce pre-tax at The Clinic Highlands, 3460 W. 32nd Ave in Denver.
Two years ago, our Pot and Parenting scribe and “Rolling Papers” cast member Brittany Driver covered this same strain, albeit from a different dispensary. We’re not in the habit of double-dipping here at The Cannabist (considering there are a few thousand strains to review) but I recently discovered a truly tremendous cut of Strawberry Cough that I’d be remiss in not critiquing. This is the real deal, Kyle Kushman cough.
Kushman, a regular High Times contributor for years, saved the plant years ago from a paltry basement grow in Vermont as the story goes, drawing its name from the berry smell emanating from the stems. Since then, it has spread from coast to coast by clone only, winning numerous awards on the way. It’s not hard to tell why when you crack a jar.
More reviews: Strains that are sweet and fruity
Tangerine Man: The clear winner in Snoop Dogg’s new line of cannabis products. Tangerine Man held up despite its extended time in the jar. The citrus notes weren’t quite as bright, more akin to a car air freshener that is overdue for a change, but the black pepper and cane sugar became more pronounced. Compared to Leafs by Snoop’s lackluster Blueberry Dream, I was vacationing in Terp City, U.S.A.
Juicy Fruit: I popped the jar open and stuffed my nose into it. It was fruity and tropical with hints of pineapple and creamy coconut, along with the subtle undertone of grass. When I sparked it up, the sweet fruitiness was prominent on the front end, followed by a spiciness that hit the back of my tongue and throat on the exhale, causing me to cough. The second hit made me question whether I had just smoked a mango lassi, and it made me cough even more.
Grape Stomper: While it wasn’t very purple, the resin production on this nug stuck out against many of the strains I’d tried lately. What I didn’t get on the initial open was much discernible smell. A faint grape fought with chem notes for control of my nose. Clearly, the Sour Diesel and Headband in the lineage were winning out.
There’s an undeniable sweetness to the strawberry notes, less like a fresh variety you’d pick up in a forest green till at the farmer’s market and more like the syrup-covered chunks you’d pour across a pound cake, replete with the creamy, soft vanilla notes that the haze genetics bring to the table. In restaurants they say you eat with your eyes; this is a strain you’ll smoke with your nose. Please, do not literally inhale through your nose unless you’ve recently had a tooth pulled.
Don’t expect to see monster colas in a jar, however. Generally, this strain will show as thinner to medium-sized branches — during my dispensary days, this trait is something that used to drive one particular customer insane. Size doesn’t always matter, guys.
After I returned home from The Clinic, I put a decent-sized nug in a joint paper and twisted it up, noting how the smell clung to my hands and filled the room, worried an imaginary person from housekeeping would bust me at any moment. Waiting for the flavor to dissipate, I made it through a larger smoke sesh than I usually partake in as it kept lingering in there. I’d wager it tastes like that strawberry vape liquid through a flower pen.
I headed out with my fiancée for trip to Goodwill to score gag gifts for our game show, head pulsing with sativa energy that left me distracted initially. On the radio, KOOL 105 was playing a particularly egregious song from the ’70s that I didn’t notice until we were halfway through it. Arriving at one of the thrift chain’s newer locations, the harsh fluorescent lights were jarring initially.
As we tried to identify which of the tags were on sale, a clerk in his 50s or 60s tried to steer me toward a chair on sale for $0.99. Ordinarily I would have politely declined, but the Cough had me feeling more jocular than usual, wandering over to take it for a test drive. If it wasn’t for all of the weird stains, I may have even walked out with the discarded white faux-leather piece.
My high became more curious and warm-hearted as I looked through all of the housewares and old books, a mix of recipes and hardback Grisham novels. Although I was pining for dinner as the clock hit 7, the strain helped allay my usual “hanger” and we managed to leave without me flippantly saying “I don’t care! Just buy it!”
As we pulled out of the parking lot without much in our fridge except the green chile we’ve been eating for days, my partner suggested we pop into Walmart and see if anything is on sale. What would have normally been daunting at the very least was now an opportunity to explore, as I hadn’t been inside one in a good six months. Challenge accepted.
I didn’t make it out of the deli section for most of our visit. I marveled over the selection of flatbreads and take-and-bake pizzas, discounted side dishes like chicken salad with walnuts, and the shockingly low price of an actual bucket full of fried chicken. “How does KFC stay in business?” I asked her, trying to Google what their latest meal deal is. And despite walking past an end-cap with the trifecta of depressing yet alluring microwave foods — Totino’s Pizza Rolls, Hot Pockets and Bagel Bites — I wound up with one of those flatbreads I had been eyeing. I even passed on dessert.
The predominant narrative on Strawberry Cough is that the strain has lost its vigor over the years after being passed through so many hands. While this may not have the strong body buzz a medical patient might look for, to me that’s perfectly acceptable from a sativa that’s likely going to do more for your mood and anxiety. Who knows? Maybe one day, we’ll see it in the produce aisle.