Tired of Beer? Become a Soda Connoisseur

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 5, 2008 · 54 comments

in A Man's Life, Diversions

“Soda is a good combination of chemistry and art.” ~ Chris Webb

When your grandpa took a young lady on a date, chances are they ended up at their local soda fountain. There, they flirted and sipped on delicious and refreshing fizzy beverages. When he went off to fight in the Big One, chances are the ship that took him over there had a soda fountain on board where your grandpa would grab a nice cold soda after baking in the hot sun on deck.

While beer is considered the quintessential man drink, soda also has a history of being the beverage of choice for men.

As you will see, in the early days, many soda fountains were all-male hangouts where guys would fraternize. And later on, fountains became the go to place for a guy to take a date. Nowadays becoming a soda connoisseur can be a fun hobby you can share with your family. And what’s manlier than spending time with your family?

The Manly History of Soda

The Rise of the Soda Fountain

For centuries people were intrigued by and believed in the healing powers of naturally effervescent waters. In the 18th century, scientists began to experiment with ways of artificially “impregnating” regular water with CO2. Selling this bubbly water as a cure for a variety of ills, “soda” fountains began appearing in pharmacies and apothecaries. Pharmacists mixed various “medicines” with soda water and flavoring to help them go down easier. While many Europeans had tinkered with the idea of soda water, the concept would truly take off in America.

From pharmacy novelties, soda fountains soon became a central part of American culture and transformed into community gathering places where people would meet and socialize over a delicious effervescent beverage. The soda shops were often classy places, anchored by a grandiose fountain made of marble, gilded with metal piping and spigots, and ornamented with figurines, gas lights, and mirrors.

The soda shops often drew single sex crowds, with ones located in the shopping district drawing all females, and those situated in the business district all males. At these all-male hang outs guys would sip a bubbly beverage and chew the fat. For example, Hudnut’s, a popular soda fountain in New York City attracted a luminous crowd. Located on “Newspaper Row,” the fountain was a male-hang out frequented by journalists and editors who needed a pick me up to meet a deadline or some refreshment after the paper had gone to press. Movers and shakers like Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, Elihu Root, John Jacob Astor, and members of famous families like the Vanderbilts, Goulds, and Van Rensselaers were frequent customers as well.

“The bottle is an art form. It’s tactile; it feels like somebody cared more about the product. It’s the physics of it: the soda stays colder longer so you get a crisper drink — and the whole ritual of popping the cap.” ~Chris Webb

People loved soda fountains but also wished to consume their new favorite beverage while on the go or lounging at home. With technological advances in bottling, by the turn of the century hundreds of independent bottlers were selling their effervescent fare in a portable form. Soda was well on its way to becoming America’s favorite drink.

Fun with Flavors

While soda water originally started out unadulterated, people soon went crazy for the taste of that water mixed with flavored syrups. People loved to experiment with new and flavor combinations, and soda fountains began to offer a 100 or more. The menu at a large soda fountain might include:

almond, anise, apple, apricot, banana, birch beer, blackberry, blood orange, Catawba, celery, champagne cider, cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, cognac, Concord grape, coriander, crabapple, cranberry, cream soda, crushed violets, currant, egg chocolate, egg cream, egg phosphate, ginger, ginger ale, gooseberry, grape, green apple, grenadine, hoarhound, java, lemon, lime, maple, mead, mint julep, mocha, mulberry, nutmeg, orange, orris root, peach, peach along, peach cider, pear, pear cider, peppermint, pineapple, pistachio, plum, quince, raspberry, root beer, rose, sarsaparilla, strawberry, Valencia orange, vanilla, walnut cream, wild cherry, and wintergreen.

Men particularly enjoyed the heartier raw egg drinks- concoctions which usually consisted of egg, soda water, phosphate, and flavored syrup. Comparing this list to what is currently found on our grocery shelves gives a clear indication on how far soda as devolved.

The flavor of many brand name sodas that we are familiar with today like Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola were created by chemists and pharmacists who were looking for the next big flavor hit. These and other sodas continued to claim health benefits especially as a tonic to restore vitality (the coca in coca-cola surely proved effective). Flavors like birch beer and root beer grew out of the penchant of America’s earliest colonists for making brews out of all sorts of roots in order to avoid drinking the sometimes unsafe water.

Soda and the Temperance Movement

The popularity of soda fountains was given a tremendous boost by the temperance movement. This movement, active in the decades before the Civil War, picked up steam as America headed into the 20th century. Temperance advocates advocated moderation or abstinence in drinking alcoholic beverages. But they knew that quitting drinking involved a large lifestyle change, especially since much of men’s social lives revolved around the saloon during this time. Therefore, the soda fountain began to be pushed as a wholesome alternative to saddling up to the bar. Getting men to socialize at the fountain instead of the bar proved successful. According to “Sundae Best:”

In the early 1890s the number of soda fountains surpassed the number of bars in New York City and more men were frequenting fountains in the business district. In the early 1900s, drug stores or confectionaries with soda fountains replaced saloons on many of Chicago’s busiest street corners. In 1908, the Windy City boasted more than 3,500 fountains. By 1906, whiskey sales were declining even in New Orleans, a city noted for its bars, and men in unprecedented numbers were patronizing the Crescent City’s fountains.

With such astounding growth, the soda fountain soon became every community’s social hub. Kids and adults, women and men, everyone enjoyed stopping in for a refreshing drink and some conversation. Men took their dates to the fountain, and though it has become a cliché, truly did order one glass with two straws. For many people, the soda fountain replaced the bar as their social center.

This trend only accelerated when Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920. Sales of sodas skyrocketed as former booze drinkers looked to alternatives to quench their thirst. Soda fountains adapted to appeal to men who once frequented saloons. The sodas got manlier names, the décor became more masculine, and seats were reserved just for men during the lunch hour. Many fountains added a lunch counter to their offerings and served hearty meals to men who once dined on the free lunches offered by saloons.

The End of a Soda Era

Even after Prohibition ended, soda fountains continued to enjoy a central place in American culture. During World War II, soda, along with tobacco and toiletries, was considered an item essential to soldiers’ morale. Thus soda fountains frequently accompanied Army post exchanges, service clubs, USO clubs, Red Cross posts, and naval training stations. As was the case in WWI, soda fountains were even installed on navy ships. While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, American troops in general were praised during the war for their humane and honorable behavior. Some believed this was due to American GI’s love for the soda fountains and preference for non-alcoholic drinks.

After the war, several factors began to spell the demise of the soda fountain. Americans began their obsession with automobiles, and used them to drive away from the cities and into new homes in the suburbs. People began to favor even quicker lunches than the soda fountain’s lunch counter offered, and took their businesses to newly established drive-in restaurants and road stands. Drugstores moved towards being entirely self-service, and paying a soda jerk to dispense drinks became cost prohibitive.

The popularity of bottled soda was also on the rise. During the 1950′s major brands like Pepsi and Dr Pepper decided to focus their advertising on selling the bottled versions of their drinks. Soft drink vending machines also began to appear, making soda consumption all the easier. Soda fountains began to die a slow death and disappear from American culture.

Soda manufacturers began to replace bottled sodas with cheaper cans. A few large corporations came to dominate the soda market and squeezed the little guys out. Stripped of its traditions and sense of craft, soda became thoroughly homogenized.

But some smaller bottlers have hung on and still offer their delicious beverages to those who diligently seek them out. Those who do so will be rewarded.

Why Become a Soda Connoisseur?

In recent years, it has become fashionable to have a discerning palate when it comes to coffee, tea, chocolate, and beer. While these products had become ubiquitous and mainstream, people became aware of the differences in these categories between quality, independently made products and those watered down for mass consumption by big corporations.

People may be surprised to learn the same is true of soda. While soda has an interesting history, a refreshing taste, and intriguing flavors, it has been reduced to the cheapest and blandest of commodities. Any variations in flavor and form have been pushed off grocery shelves and replaced with a small selection of focus-group tested choices. In the war between Coke and Pepsi, it has been the unique, independently bottled sodas that have been the real causalities.

Demonized by nutritionists as “liquid candy” and cheapened by big corporations, soda has seemingly been stripped of any cache. But there is a world of difference between a watered down Big Gulp from 7-11 and a well-crafted, cane sugar sweetened, wonderfully fizzy, long neck bottle of real soda. It’s time to get back in touch with the soda your grandpa enjoyed.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to become a soda connoisseur:

Soda is a great option for those looking for a refreshing, but non-alcoholic beverage. It can be enjoyed by the young and the old alike.

Enables you to give your non-drinking friends a choice of more sophisticated beverages. At any given time, a wide swath of the population abstains from alcohol. At parties and social functions these people are usually relegated to enjoying water or a boring can of pop. By becoming a soda connoisseur, you can fill up a tub with ice at your next party and offer a wide variety of interesting and tasty beverages to your teetotaling friends.

Soda is conducive to temperate living. As we have learned, temperance is one of the manly virtues according to Ben Franklin. Soda allows you to enjoy a refreshing beverage, without worrying about getting plastered.

Soda enlivens any occasion. Unlike beer, soda can be enjoyed as a pick me up at work and for refreshment and energy while driving.

Smaller, independently owned soda makers simply create more delicious soda. It truly tastes better for several reasons:

  • Independent bottlers are owned and operated by people who are passionate about the craft of soda making. Instead of creating their brews with the goal of saving money and appealing to the masses, they take a more creative and grassroots approach. This freedom allows independent bottlers to come up with stronger and more interesting flavors.
  • Unlike soda manufactured by big corporations, which uses high fructose corn syrup, independent bottlers sweeten their soda with pure cane sugar. This results in a far more delicious and clean tasting brew.
  • Soda that comes in bottles tastes better than soda in cans. As opposed to tinny tasting aluminum, the thick, clean walls of the bottles keep the flavor pure and fresh.
  • Once you discover the delicious flavors being produced by independent bottlers, you’ll enjoy tasting them and finding your favorite. After you stop gulping down cheap bland soda, and start sipping the quality kind, you’ll enjoy tuning in to the interesting characteristics of each brew and discover your likes and dislikes. You’ll notice the amount of fizz and foam and pick up on the hints of flavor like vanilla, molasses, cola, and licorice.

Soda is really not that bad for you despite what the nutritionist fear mongers proclaim. Temperance involves the principle of moderation. Soda was intended to be a delicious treat. It was never intended to be gulped from a 64 ounce mug. It was not intended to wash food down your gullet. Nor was it intended as such a cheap beverage that free refills were a possibility. It was meant to be tasted, savored, and enjoyed. When used that way, soda can be enjoyed regularly. If anything should be blamed for the rise in American obesity, it’s high fructose corn syrup. There is a striking relationship between the growing use of HFCS and obesity. Stick to the real stuff and savor every sweet drop.

How to Become a Soda Connoisseur

Hunt down sodas made by smaller, independently owned companies. These are not always easy to find. Many mainstream groceries do carry Jones Sodas and they are a good place to start-especially since they recently made the decision to switch back to sweetening their sodas with pure cane sugar. Smaller, locally-owned groceries and organic food stores also often carry a wider variety of sodas.

There are few stores around the country that just sell sodas. You may be lucky enough to live near one or you can plan to visit while taking a trip:

Real Soda, Fremont and Los Angeles, CA

Pops on Route 66-Arcadia, OK

Pop the Soda Shop-Scottsdale, AZ

GALCO’s Old World Grocery Shop-Los Angeles, CA

If no “gourmet” sodas can be found in your area, you can also order soda online. Pop the Soda Shop will ship your sodas to you. Of course glass bottles are heavy, so be prepared to pay a lot for shipping.

For the original soda experience, try to stop by a soda fountain during your travels. While most fountains went extinct decades ago, some still linger on.


Soda Pop
Sundae Best: A History of Soda Fountains

Special thanks to Danny Ginsburg founder of Real Soda in Real Bottles and passionate soda sommelier for sharing his enthusiasm for soda and interesting insights into the world of soda.

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

1 justin June 5, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Awesome reminder of non-alcoholic fun. Towards the end, I was sorely disappointed that GALCO’s Old World Grocery Shop was left out. Though it has 300 different brands of beer, it has 500 different brands of soda, most if not all from small breweries, and all without high fructose corn syrup.

Website is http://www.sodapopstop.com

It’s located in Highland Park, an old part of Los Angeles. The owner is an awesome, friendly and warm guy who’s a must-converse for all things nostalgic. He’ll readily tell tales of the old days in Los Angeles and will even give a history lesson of the nearby area, when this-or-that place was a horse feed station, etc. He’s getting old, so better visit him soon.

2 Brett June 5, 2008 at 9:57 pm


I only knew personally of a few soda shops in the country. But I know there’s more out there. I hope this post can be a place for other guys to share their favorite places to buy a delicious soda and their favorite brands and flavors.

3 Ryan Sutherland June 6, 2008 at 12:42 am

Loved the article!

I also had to add my own favorite soda to my blog.

Dublin’s 10-2-4 Dr. Pepper FTW!

I always go to popsoda.com to drink and hang out in Scottsdale, AZ


4 Shatt June 6, 2008 at 1:50 am

You can always visit a Sonic Drive-In. It’s not a true soda fountain by any means but they have a MESS of different drink combinations and flavor mix-ins.

Rootbeer with two shots of vanilla. Lord I am in hog heaven.

5 A.J. June 6, 2008 at 3:02 am

Gotta check out both Cheerwine and Patio Red Cherry Soda. Jewels of the South they are.

6 Corey - Simple Marriage Project June 6, 2008 at 4:39 am

Ah the great time of sharing a cold soda. Thanks for bringing back the good memories. Used to go to a soda fountain with my grandfather for ice cream and cold soda. Love it.

7 Santa June 6, 2008 at 5:00 am

What about coffee? Not the Starbucks kind, but real grinded and brewed coffee bean that’s not enhanced with sugar and added flavor. That’s a man’s drink.

8 Corey W. June 6, 2008 at 5:32 am

I was in Florida a few days ago, and in Dania Beach there is Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor. Not only does it have the same spelling as my 21 month old sons name, they also make all soda in-house, and ice cream.

I am a big soda (and beer) drinker, and I do have to say that the soda I had at “Jaxson’s” was by far the best I have ever had.


9 Marcel June 6, 2008 at 6:05 am

Hrm, I was not aware of this pecularily American tradition. I’d love to try out a Soda Bar, but I don’t think we have any in London. A quick google search revealed nothing except that there is a soda part in London, Kentucky…which doesn’t help me at all!

10 Brent June 6, 2008 at 6:45 am

If you’re looking for an interesting soda, that still tastes like the medicines they were supposed to be, check out Moxie. I remember my Grandfather always had them around when we came to visit, and I don’t think I’ve had one since his death in the mid-90′s but its still out there and now I’m going to have to track some down.

11 Brett June 6, 2008 at 6:54 am

@Ryan- Dublin Dr. Pepper is definitely the way to go. We’re going to be doing a taste test between Dublin and high fructose corn syrup Dr. Pepper to see if people can tell the difference.

@ Marcel- I didn’t know there was a London, KY. You can always try ordering some old fashioned independently bottled soda from the internet, although international shipping would be a beast I imagine.

@ Brent- Good old Moxie. I remember the first time I tried it I thought it tasted like carbonated cough syrup, but the taste definitely grew on me.

At all- It looks like people know where some good soda fountain/bars are. Would you all be interested in a soda fountain locator where people can post the locations of different soda shops?

12 dave June 6, 2008 at 7:21 am

Jones soda is awesome and widely available in the US. They have recently switched to sweetening with cane sugar.

13 patrick June 6, 2008 at 10:18 am

how interesting, just yesterday I stumbled upon a sodashop in oak cliff, in dallas. I have a bit of a fancy for rootbeer. I walked away with a sampler 6-pack and I never have been happier.

14 Tim Jacobsen June 6, 2008 at 10:54 am

Great article….but I’m afraid I am not “tired of beer” Soda, don’t hold your breath :)

15 Richard June 6, 2008 at 11:28 am

Brett, I’d love to see a soda fountain locator. The list at http://www.prairiemoon.biz/sodfounneary.html is a good start, but even they say that it is “very incomplete”.

And sadly, there aren’t any on their list in my neck of the woods.

16 Bryan June 6, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Extremely interesting article Brett. Excellent job as usual.

17 Rodney Hampton June 6, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Great article idea.

18 Paul June 7, 2008 at 7:09 am

A lot of the small soft drinks are regional — Ale 8 1 in Kentucky and Cheer Wine in the Carolinas, Georgia, and east Tennessee, for instance. Also, please pardon those of us from the South if we still insist on calling even small-label carbonated beverages “coke.”

19 cory huff June 7, 2008 at 7:50 am

Wow, you’ve really done your research. Astoundingly good article, Brett. What fun! Beer sucks, soda rules!

20 Improve Your Mind June 7, 2008 at 11:00 am

Good idea, I always prefer non-alcoholic drinks myself. ;-)

21 Matt June 7, 2008 at 6:47 pm

A few years back, I went on a Jones kick, but unfortunately fell back to my old standby Coke. While at the beach this year, a friend gave me a Jones sweetened with pure cane sugar and I haven’t looked back since! Great article.

22 Andrew McMillen June 7, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Cool article, guys. Very informative. My knowledge of soft drink (as it’s known in Australia) is mostly limited to the mass-produced variety, but I am aware of a few independent brewers that distribute to small stores. Maybe it’s time I gave soft drink another chance.

By the way, the link to the temperance article is broken. You doubled up on your http://s.

23 aliencam June 7, 2008 at 8:29 pm

I love glass bottled real sodas. I try not to drink them too often though (once per week), because even if they aren’t that bad, they still contain a lot of sugars, and even the carbonation itself isn’t great for you.

I go to college right by Pop the Soda Shop, and usually end up making a run there about once a month. My friends and I never leave without a few cases full, and I probably have tried one of everything in their store.

I believe Pop the Soda Shop is even getting a soda fountain! (that’s what one of their employees told me awhile ago, I haven’t seen any progress) When they do I will definitely go there more often.

24 Marcus Ramsey June 7, 2008 at 11:47 pm

I am not a fan of Dr. Pepper, but the “Dublin” version with pure cane sugar is to die for. There is a gas station here in Dallas that stocks it regularly. Fresh from a glass bottle it is perfect on a hot Texas day when getting out of work for the drive home. Roll the windows down, sip from the glass bottle, and relax.

25 Bernie Franks June 8, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Haha, great article! I’m a lover of sodas myself, always looking for new kinds – can’t beat that cane sugar.

26 guidetomanliness June 9, 2008 at 9:26 am

I’m lucky enough to live just down the road from POPS in Arcadia, OK. Great selection of hundreds and hundreds of soda!

27 nolaphilly June 10, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Great article.

I just wanted to add one more name to the list, and I was just there not two hours ago. The place was packed, probably due to the heatwave we’re currently experiencing in Philly. Franklin Fountain at 116 Market Street.


28 Brett June 10, 2008 at 8:29 pm


Thanks for sharing that link. The Franklin fountain looks totally sweet. It is exactly the kind of place I dream of building here in Tulsa.

29 Tron June 11, 2008 at 11:02 pm

for those in Canada (like me)
Jones Soda has a bunch of different/interesting flavors. (such as vanilla, blue berry etc. check em out, and they have fun little sayings under the caps)
Also, just about your little section on root beer. (and i could be wrong on this).
Did it not come about during prohabition because well.. beer and other booze couldn’t be sold? (or failing that I believe thats when it at least become popular).

30 Kate McKay June 12, 2008 at 7:57 am


America’s earliest colonists were the first brewers of root beer, along with sarsaparilla, ginger beer, and birch beer. The brews were made from roots, berries, and bark, and were mildly alcoholic. As mentioned in the post, alcoholic drinks like these were popular because they killed the bad stuff often lurking in the regular ground or well water.

Charles Hines introduced the first commercial root beer in 1876. At first the temperance people actually disliked it because it had the word “beer” in the name and their experience with it had been in alcoholic form. But Hines’ drink was non-alcoholic and caught on.

But you are right, drinks like root beer surged in popularity during Prohibition.

31 I am Dion June 13, 2008 at 9:57 pm

We in Australia really are lucky when it comes to soda (called soft drink, as previously pointed out). There is none of this high fructose crap. Right now while I’m typing, I’m sipping a Coca-Cola, made with real sugar. Beautiful. There is also a wide variety of specialty soft drinks to enjoy. From the very popular Bundaberg Ginger Beer (best GB in the country, made in the same town famous for its sugar and rum), to the lesser known, small-time companies, there really is a great choice that can be found in lots of cafes and bakeries.

Take a small company called Crows Nest Cordials, made in Crows Nest, Queensland. They make some champion soft drinks. I live just 40 mins from the factory, so for my brother’s wedding they ordered 24 cases of the stuff. Best idea I’ve seen at a wedding for a long time.

If ever you’re in Aus, stop by a bakery (especially a country bakery) and pick up an Aussie meat pie, and a nice specialty soft drink.


32 Eugene June 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Amazing – informative, funny and inspirational article. Btw. I’ve read Wikipedia article, which states some phosphate compounds are toxic. Which phosphate was used in soda – and why, that’s what i’d like to know. :)

33 Justin June 26, 2008 at 4:29 am

I live down in Houston, home of St. Arnold’s Brewery. Not only do they make good beer, they make FANTASTIC root beer.


On Saturday’s, they have tours of their brewery in NW Houston. $5 will get you 4 1/2 pints of beer, but more importantly….unlimited root beer!

34 Kevin Conder July 1, 2008 at 1:20 pm

I agree with the sugar over HFCS point. Microbreweries that also make their own root beer and/or cream soda are also checking out.

35 PK July 4, 2008 at 10:22 am

Tired of beer?………..no

36 Jonathan Rose August 7, 2008 at 7:13 pm

Great article and very illuminating for someone moderating and limiting there alcohol intake, such as myself. I am adopting the philosophy of temperance in my life as part of a strong, concerted effort to succeed at the goals I have in life. Alcohol is such a damaging drink – lifestyle even – and it is hard to find alternatives without loosing social grace. Like Marcel though, I simple cannot find the options and varieties in London, UK, where I live. Anyone have any suggestions, other than ordering online? It would be great to see an article on alternative drinking that catered for Londonites.

37 r.blondie August 28, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Your site is priceless guys. So enjoyable and done with great humor. I have just started a similarly named site that you might want to take a peek at.
Good luck to you.

38 Greg Warwick August 31, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Thought you’d like to be aware of another soda of historical and taste significance. Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages were established in 1905 in Northern England when Thomas Fentiman acquired a ginger beer recipe from a fellow tradesman that gave it as a security to a failed loan. The Ginger Beer was sold in stoneware jugs called “gray hens” for years, delivered door-to-door for decades until 1992 when Eldon Robson, Thomas’ great-grandson introduced the first custom bottle for the beverage. Over the next 10+ years he introduced other varieties using the same 7-day fermentation and brewing process that resulted in beverages with layers of flavour and aroma, unlike any other. Perhaps you’ve heard of the slow food movement? Well, these were the some of the first slow sodas. They have less then 1/2% alcohol, having been fermented, but these can still be consumed by persons of all ages and bought in every type of store and restaurant. Other varieties beyond the original Ginger Beer include Curiosity Cola (much like what you’d find at an apothocary decades ago), Victorian Lemonade, Madarin & Seville Orange Jigger, Dandelion & Burdock and Shandy. A Tonic Water, Ginger Beer and Curiosty Cola are also available in 125 ml mixer sizes. No HFCS, just all-natural ingredients and flavours.

In the quest for sodas of substance, these are truly worth checking out. You can firnd more information on them at http://www.DrinkFenimans.com or http://www.fentimans.com. Check out the link to Furtling, too. Real Victorian era humor and real hoot!


39 Darryl September 15, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Unfortunately up here (In Toronto) There’s really no independent soda manufacturers anymore. they all either went bankrupt or moved away…a pity.

I’m stuck drinking Jones’ Soda, which is fine but still I’d like to have variety than just being stuck with the same old sodas (Pepsi , coke, et al. ad infinitum)

40 Gene Schubert July 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Great website. Pure cane sugar sodas blow away that corporate crap on the shelfs.
I enjoy Boylan, and have had a good Hank’s too. Loved your articles on best colas and best root beers, gave me some ideas. Keep’em coming!

41 John October 30, 2009 at 9:07 am

For those of us who’ve had the good fortune to live in certain urban areas with large concentrations of Orthodox Jews, there are also “kosher for Passover” versions of many mass-market sodas. The essential difference is that they are made with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup (don’t ask me why; I’m no expert on kashruth), so we get to have Coke the way it used to be!

So if you’re in New York City around Passover, look for the 2-liter bottles of Coke with the yellow cap printed with Hebrew letters. It’s the REAL real thing!

42 Jeff October 30, 2009 at 5:47 pm


The Soda Gallery in Dallas is about as good as it gets when it comes to a craft and obscure soda selections. It’s right down the street from my house, so I love to stop by and see the newest choices.

43 Ryan October 31, 2009 at 11:17 am

Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome article, and add in one that’s within a short drive of parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Griffith & Feil Pharmacy is in Kenova, West Virginia and still doing Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and a few other drinks the old soda-jerk way (namely orange cream and root beers). They also have an absolutely amazing version of most diner foods.

44 stepcoach November 14, 2009 at 10:21 am

Thanks for a very enlightening and well-written article. Since developing diabetes a couple years ago (partially from years of drinking Coke, etc) I’ve pretty much given up soft drinks. I use a soda water mixer to make my own fizzies (?) from 100% fruit juice, and have become fairly good at combining to get a good taste. But I did not know about the micro-brewery move back to pure cane sugar. I’ll investigate as whether that makes a difference over HFCS for my – and millions of others’ – conditions.
Either way, please keep up the good work. My friends and I really enjoy the AoM.

45 Gerald D. Swick November 23, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Ryan, you’re right about Griffith & Feil, but you failed to mention that they top their wonderful ice cream with what seems to be home-made fruit toppings. I make a point of stopping there whenever I go back to West Virginia.

46 Bob Mcfly December 13, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Saranac Root Beer from Utica,NY = awesome

47 Mark January 11, 2010 at 12:21 am

Greetings :-),

I picked up something interesting tonight on the way to work: Mountian Dew Throwback. Apparently, Pepsico is at least experimenting with returning to sugar in sodas. Wikipedia cites rising corn prices due to the use of corn in biofuel generation (reversing the rising sugar price trend that prompted the original switch in the 70s/80s) as a possible cause: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Throwback_(drink)

I shouldn’t be drinking either, being significantly overweight ;-). However, nobody’s perfect and I like the odd soda here and there. I definitely noticed the difference in tase.

48 Shawn humphrey June 10, 2010 at 10:01 am


I have enjoyed your soda reviews and articles. Would you consider doing reviews on Birch Beer and Sarsaparilla? Also possibly Ginger Beer? I noticed that The Soda Shop in AZ carries all of the above, and it may not hurt to support the AZ economy (sorry to all of you who are boycotting them at present).

Thanks Brett, and keep up the good work!


49 Michael Gonsalves January 20, 2013 at 8:43 am

Not to dredge up an old article, but for anyone in Connecticut, I recommend Hosmer Mountain Soda. They have 2 locations (Willimantic and Manchester) and are served at a decent number of smaller non-chain restaurants across the state.

50 Jaymes A May 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Does anyone know where I can find information about Maris Cola? I have searched all I can on google and can not find anything about this company. I have come to find the whereabouts of around 30 full glass jugs of this cola with labels presumably printed around 1920-1940. Would like to know more info about it.

51 Kirk July 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Virgil’s is some of the best soda I’ve ever had

52 Ashley December 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I know this is an old post but I have to add my favorite place in San Francisco, The Ice Cream Bar. They do old fashioned lactarts and phosphates with a plethora of tinctures. It’s an art and a science and I highly recommend it!


53 Eric December 26, 2013 at 12:51 am

Great article!

I’ve recently stopped drinking alcohol, almost completely. I’ll allow myself an occasional glass of whiskey (and I love whiskey flavored things) and when I go home to Texas, I’ll probably have a good Shiner Black, but for the most part, I’ve left alcohol behind.

In lieu of that, cokes have been a good replacement. I’ve been considering making my own root beer and cream soda. This history has been insightful, though. Thanks again.

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