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Posts Tagged ‘Cel-Ray’

I grew up in New England and I always called soda, Soda. It wasn’t until I got to college and met a girl from upstate New York that I heard the word Pop used to describe a can of soda.  Years later when I was selling homes to transferees from all over the country, I learned that some people ordered Tonic when actually it could be orange soda.

Regionalism has always fascinated me;  Whenever I’ve traveled to another state and had the opportunity to go into a grocery store I would explore the aisles looking at canned goods and packaged products I had never heard of.  It’s  a real eye-opener when you step out of your own little world and see what food items other people buy.  When I visited my parents in Arkansas I was really dazzled not only by the unusual and obviously local canned goods but also the lack of variety in some food stuffs.  When my parents first moved there, my mother went to the grocery store to buy macaroni – yes we are Italian and we call it macaroni not pasta.  She was directed to a box of Mueller’s elbows!!  I actually had to send care packages of spaghetti, canned plum tomatoes and Parmesan cheese to them.

My friend Gail, a regular contributor of ideas to Pbenjay sent me this article from Mental Floss.   Does anybody out there know about these regional drinks?  I know and have tasted 3 of them and think perhaps 2 are still in existence.  I know I have readers outside of the tri-state area, let’s hear from you!

1. SUN DROP – Before there was Sprite  there was Sun Drop, at least in St. Louis .  In 1928,  Charles Lazier developed the citrus-flavored drink in St. Louis in 1928. The beverage was later marketed under several different names, including Sun Drop Golden Cola, Golden Girl Cola, and Golden Sun Drop Cola.

Before Sprite and Mountain Dew There Was Sun Drop

Before Sprite and Mountain Dew There Was Sun Drop

2. VERNOR’S – 

In 1862, Detroit pharmacist James Vernor developed a mixture of 19 ingredients that included ginger, vanilla, and natural flavors. Before leaving to fight in the Civil War, Vernor stored his experimental mixture in an oak cask. When he returned four years later, he opened the cask to find it had transformed his blend of flavors into a delicious ginger ale. Vernor sold his concoction at his drugstore’s soda fountain for the next 30 years. In 1896, with the help of his son, he began distributing his specially aged ginger ale in bottles. The Vernor family maintained ownership of the business until 1966. Vernors is distributed today as part of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, with Michigan accounting for most of its sales

3.
green-river GREEN RIVER – Chicago’s Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Co. introduced Green River soda in 1919, just before the start of Prohibition. The lime-flavored and electric green-colored soft drink was initially bottled in the brewery’s beer bottles and was an instant success. Al Jolson recorded a song about Green River in the 1920s and by the end of Prohibition it trailed only Coke in fountain sales throughout the Midwest. The brewery made Green River a second priority when alcohol became legal again and sales of the soft drink dropped. While the brewery closed in 1950, Green River lived on. Today, Green River is bottled by Chicago’s Clover Bottling Co., and while it remains most popular in the Windy City, it is now sold nationwide. Green River was part of the inspiration for Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s album by the same name and enjoys a major increase in sales in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.

4.  CHEERWINE – When a sugar shortage at the start of World War I made it difficult for L.D. Peeler to sweeten his Salisbury, NC-based bottling company’s popular Mint Cola, Peeler began looking for a less sweet, but equally tasty, alternative. The local businessman purchased a wild cherry flavor from a St. Louis salesman and developed the formula for Cheerwine in the basement of his grocery store in 1917. Cheerwine was an instant success and was outselling Mint Cola by the early 1920s. Shortly thereafter, Peeler changed the name of his business to the Cheerwine Bottling Co. The red-colored Carolina staple was distributed locally until 1981, when it expanded into Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia. While Cheerwine’s reach continues to grow, it remains most popular in the Carolinas and parts of Virginia. Back in 2010, Cheerwine partnered with a fellow Tar Heel State company, Krispy Kreme, to offer Cheerwine-infused doughnuts in stores throughout the Carolinas.

5.  DR. BROWN’S – Celery was a popular ingredient in herbal remedies in the 19th century and eventually found its way into a handful of competing soft drinks. Dr. Brown’s Celery Tonic, one of the only such beverages still around today, was first produced in Brooklyn in 1868. The name was changed to Cel-Ray soda in the early 1900s and, at the height of its popularity in New York around 1930, was often referred to as “Jewish Champagne.”  Today, Dr. Brown’s is owned by Pepsi and available at various delis throughout the country. The brand’s most loyal customers, many of whom find Cel-Ray the perfect foil to a pastrami sandwich, are in New York and South Florida.

Last Bottle Standing

Last Bottle Standing

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