Into the World of Travel Once More Plus a Question to Keep You Occupied

Athena and I have had a delightful time at Arisia, but now it’s time to hop on a plane and head back to Ohio. We’ll be in transit all day. In the meantime a question for you to ponder:

What’s your favorite obscure soda flavor? “Obscure” in this case can mean a) not always available at your local store, b) usually (but not always!) not distributed by Coca-Cola/PepsiCo, c) one you liked but no longer exists, by any maker. International sodas unavailable in the US are groovy. If you think Dr Pepper is an obscure soda, you might be doing this one wrong.

My obscure soda: Aspen soda, which was an apple-flavored soda available for a couple of years in the late 70s-early80s. I really enjoyed it when I was a kid and am a little sad that apple generally is not a widely available soda flavor.


254 Comments on “Into the World of Travel Once More Plus a Question to Keep You Occupied”

  1. Pathmark Brand Birch Beer. Distinctly different than Root Beer, and of course there are no Pathmarks here in the Midwest. Not even sure Pathmarks back east still has it…

  2. Kik Cola. It was a very local cola made in Montreal and distributed in Québec until the late 1980s. I last saw a bottle in 1992. So good. Actually tasted like the kola nut.

    I also like Spruce Beer, which tastes like spruce or fur tree gum. Only found in Québec, almost only found in local offbrand store pop. Love it. Since I now live in Ontario, there is no hope for me to find any here.

  3. Apple must. Soda made with the surplus juice they use for cider. It’s all the rage where I’m from. Montérégie, the orchard of Québec.

  4. a long time ago, I used to get this banana soda from El Salvador at a little latino market in Cambridge. It was really good, and I’ve never been able to find it again anywhere else.

  5. Cresta.

    A product of its time (the 70s) whose selling factor was it had a permanent head of foam on top.

    Then the Powers That Be found out what went into it to give it that permanent head of foam and decreed it to be doubleplusungood.

    This was before artificial colours, flavours etc were seriously worried about so it must have been something really fun…

  6. RC Cola is my favorite obscure soda, but as far as obscure soft drinks altogether goes, I remember really liking grape Fruitopia.

  7. So, was Yep lemon-lime? Did you have any favorites from Nchanter’s picks?

    My nostalgic favorite was New York Seltzer creme soda. I am pretty sure they don’t make it anymore. Also, my grocery doesn’t sell Vernor’s, which is pretty common elsewhere in the world, so it is by default a happy find.

  8. Blendheim’s Ginger Beer. Can’t find it outside of roughly the South Carolina area. It is super spicy. When you open it, it isn’t recommended that you sniff the bottle.

  9. Pop Shoppe pop, which had flavours like lime rickey, black cherry and pineapple. It disappeared in the early 80s, but seems to be back – I’ve spotted them in local Ontario stores.

  10. Doctor Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic. It’s a celery-flavored soda, vaguely like ginger ale. Reminds me of my dad, and childhood trips to the outstanding deli at the Mall in Columbia.

  11. Materva, a Cuban soda nominally based on Argentinian “mate” tea, but sweet instead of bitter. Tastes sort of like cream soda. More:

    [Admission: it is available at my local store, but it must be about the only local store in California that has it. Otherwise it is mostly a Miami thing these days.]

  12. Hmmm…a tossup….when my ex-wife and I were still married, she was stationed in Bermuda and used to buy me cans of ginger beer. I don’t remember the brand…..before that, I was stationed in Italy and used to buy a soft drink called “Limonsoda”, which was kind of like carbonated lemonade. We’d tried to duplicate it using lemonade and a carbonating system, but it apparently wasn’t the same. Well, I doubt I’ll get back to Gaeta any time soon….much less Bermuda.

  13. Materva — it’s a Cuban soda (yerba mate-based, I believe) that they serve at Victor’s 1959 Havana Café, home of stunningly good Cuban food here in Minneapolis.

  14. Last year I visited my father and stepmother in Brazil, and was really taken with a drink they have there called Guarana. It has a really lovely sweet flavour, and although I might get sick of it if I drank it every day, as a vacation treat it was lovely. I’m pretty sure it’s not available in big grocery chains, although when I visited Toronto there was a specialty store that sold Latin food which had it in stock.

  15. A seconding for Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray, which you CAN still find in some New York City locations.

    The obscure soda I can’t find around here is DRY’s cucumber soda, which I picked up at Galco’s the last time I was in LA.

  16. Cherokee Red Soda. When I was a kid, my grandpa used to make us ice cream floats with it. I haven’t had it in years, don’t know if it is still around or not, but the question brought back a nice memory.

  17. Holy moley; I haven’t thought about Aspen soda in 30 years.

    I miss Shasta. It’s apparently still being manufactured, but isn’t available in my part of the country. My grandmother used to make homemade applesauce by boiling sliced apples in black cherry-flavored Shasta, and it’s only now struck me just how weird that is.

  18. Birch Beer. I know it’s not unusual in parts of the Northeast, but to this Texas boy it was a treat I only had every 5-10 years when I visited my cousins in Pennsylvania…

  19. @Jess – New York Seltzer is back in production. You can order it from their website and they have a “store locator”. (None of the stores are particularly close to me, but maybe you’ll have better luck.)

  20. Kinnie – it’s a Maltese softdrink with an…interesting taste. It’s not something I would absolutely go out of my way to find, but it’s an interesting alternative to diet Coke which tends to be my soft drink of choice

  21. Is Appletiser available in the US?

    Not sure whether it counts as a soda, as it’s carbonated pure apple juice, but if fizzy apple is your thing, you can’t get more appley than this.

  22. I haven’t been a soda-drinker for decades at this point, but one of my favorites from childhood was the original Vernor’s Ginger Ale. I grew up in suburban Detroit, and can remember driving with my parents past the bottling plant where it was made. I know that a variety called Vernor’s is available nowadays, but the one time I bought a six-pack for nostalgia’s sake, it was a whole lot more bland than it used to be; they’ve cut way back on the gingery blast the original stuff had.

  23. If I travel outside of Scotland then Barr’s Irn Bru must count, surely? Staying at home, fizzy Vimto instead. Despite being fairly popular and widely advertised, it rarely seems to be continuously available.

  24. Oh man.

    Crystal Pepsi.
    Flavored seltzer – pretty sure it was the aforementioned New York Seltzer Cream Soda flavor.
    JOLT! Cola – because 3x cups of coffee worth of caffeine in a 12 oz can of soda was a great idea for high school kids.

  25. Well, Jolt cola recently came back, so it no longer applies. Plus, I’m not sure it’s so much my favorite as much as it got me through my first 2 years of grad school (my daily diet was usually either a 2 liter of Jolt and a large pizza, or a 2 liter of Jolt and Arby’s 5 for $5 – yeah, it’s amazing what a 20-something human body can survive).

    However, for fitting the criteria, when I went on a high school trip to Japan, I had a lime soda that I loved! Couldn’t find it anywhere back here in the US. Now, with more options showing up, I have tried others, but either I haven’t found it or the memory is far enough back that even if I did find it, I wouldn’t recognize it. Like Tibetan sand mandalas, that pleasure might just be forever linked to that brief period of time. :)

  26. I liked LIKE, if you recall, it was one of the first soda’s to use nutrisweet, but that was back in the 80’s. ah memories.

    How obscure is Big Red?

    That’s the problem with things like this, if you grew up with them, are they really obscure.

    We also have Verners Ginger ale locally, but again, how wide spread it got is a mystery.

  27. OK Cola, an obscure cola that was test-marketed in about a half dozen cities, one of which was Fargo, when I was in high school. Sure, it wasn’t very good, but the marketing and the art on the cans blew my mind at the time. But really, it wasn’t very good to actually drink, so it never made it out of the test markets.

  28. I miss Pepsi Light. I’m about Scalzi’s age, and when I was a kid, it was a product they put out which had a slight lemon flavor added to the cola.

    I dunno how “obscure” it is, but every once in a while I buy Stewart’s Key Lime soda as a treat. I live in Houston, and it’s not readily available here. There are stores which don’t carry any Stewart’s, period, there are stores which carry other Stewart’s flavors, but not the Key Lime, and frequently the stores which do carry Key Lime don’t have it in stock when I want it.

  29. It’s been almost 40 years, but what immediately came to mind was another carbonated lemonade, Kinley Limon. I drank it the summer I spent in Israel, and I’ve never seen it (or anything like it) in the US.

  30. Irn-Bru isn’t commonly seen here in the States, though it can be mail ordered; the taste isn’t quite the same as the Scottish version because IIRC the two countries use different ways to make carbonated water.

  31. Here’s a second for OK Soda. I also lived in one of the test markets, and, while I have vague memories of the taste, the marketing was what got me. The 800 number was the best (1-800-I-FEEL-OK). I remember calling it all the time in high school until it was disconnected. Sad to see it go, but it probably wouldn’t be as good if it had succeeded.

  32. Old school Orange Crush – it was very lightly carbonated and had a richer, less fake orange taste

  33. There are two from Jones Soda that I love but can never find in stores: Blue Bubblegum and Crushed Melon. Fortunately, Jones is happy to ship me a case of them whenever I want.

  34. I loved grape Nehi as a kid, but I doubt I’d drink it today.

    Now, I usually drink San Pellegrino sodas — they’re widely available here in the Washington DC area.

  35. Moxie! Grew up drinking it a ton in New England, but since moving to South Carolina it is a rare find (I have my parents, who live in Vermont, ship some to me occasionally). I am also a fan of some of the weirder Latin American and Asian sodas like guava and lychee. I usually have to find these at ethnic groceries.

  36. Canfield’s Diet Chocolate soda. Used to be able to buy it at my local grocery store from the mid 80’s through the early 90’s. Have not seen it since. It was a chocolate Coke that was in a can!

  37. I’m Aussie and my favourite soft drink is both local and not always easy to find – Bundaberg diet sarsparilla (I think USAians call sarsparilla ‘root beer’?). Yes, the brewery that makes the rum (it’s very good rum!) also makes brewed soft drinks in a variety of fruit flavours and the only nonalcoholic apple cider I have ever seen, all of which are very nice. But the only non-sugared versions of their drinks are diet ginger beer and diet sarsparilla, and it’s pretty hit-and-miss which stores will have them.

  38. Afri-cola. It’s a German brand that was popular around Seattle and Tacoma with hipsters when I was in high school in the 90’s. And I have to join in the nostalgia chorus for OK too.

  39. Cream Soda.

    The geniuses that maunfacture/sell Pepsi and Schweppes products here in Western Australia have decided repeatedly that no-one in Western Australia wants the brown/vanilla Cream Soda, they only want the godsawful fake raspberry Red Creaming Soda. X’P

    For some bizarre reason that must make sense to someone in Marketing, you can get the Brown/Vanilla kind everywhere else in Australia but not WA. Including right over the South Australian border. Bit far to get a drink, y’know?

    That little marketing decision pisses me off no end. Especially since the Red Creaming Soda is everywhere and utterly foul to my tastebuds.

    As for varieties that aren’t made any more, there was a local brand by the name of Weaver and Lock, sadly now defunct for some years that (amongst others) had two nifty drinks back in the 70s and 80s that went by ‘Red Stuff’ and ‘Green Stuff’. Green Stuff was great.

  40. I would note Apple Tango, a favourite of my misspent youth… possibly restricted to the UK, though. Dandelion and Burdock is…an interesting flavour, though I wouldn’t say it was a favourite.

  41. While travelling, I was quite disappointed to find that Faygo isn’t widely available outside of Michigan, which is going to suck when I leave for good — their root beer is the best.

    As far as apple sodas go, Jones Soda makes a good green apple soda, but I usually have to go out of town to find it.

  42. Yes Aspen!!! When i visited my grandparents in California in the late 70s/early 80s they would stock the fridge with some, haven’t seen it since…

  43. I miss the carbonated berry flavored Mystic juice. The bottles looked like wine coolers, but they were nonalcoholic. I haven’t been able to find them in years.

  44. When I was living in Hong Kong around 2002, they had a limited-edition cucumber-melon Fanta flavor that was amazing. I miss that a lot.

  45. Ale8. A very ginger-y ginger ale. I’ve seen it in eastern KY for the most part- occasionally other places.

  46. I have three:

    Dry Rhubarb soda (Dry is the brand name)
    Hank’s Birch Beer (though Boylan’s will do in a pinch)
    Sidral Mundet (apple)

  47. C & C Cola – Grew up in NJ, and this was the soda my grandmother ALWAYS had in the house. (Didn’t hurt that it was 1/2 the price of the big two.) Loved this. It was always a little sharper and a bit less sweet than Coke.

    Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda – My suburban mom in the 80s swore off sugary soda early on, and always had Diet Pepsi or Tab around. I thought those tasted like battery acid. Every now and then this weird potion would show up in the fridge – “Chocolate Fudge Soda?” – I had to try it. It tasted like carbonated Count Chocula with an aspartame aftertaste, and I loved it.

    (As an aside, I would have sworn it was “Dr. Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda” but I can’t find any reference to it by that name. I would have bet $ 50.00 on that though. Memory is odd.)

  48. Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak.

    If you’re ever in Taiwan, they do have apple soda there. It’s not bad. (Lots of interesting drinks in Japan, as well.)

  49. Stewart’s has a number of flavors I like (such as key lime, orange cream, and lemon meringue), and they feel a *little* obscure.

    For a bit more obscure, Cactus Cooler. It’s an orange-pineapple drink you used to be able to find in the southwest, but which I haven’t seen in quite a while.

    Windtear: sarsaparilla is often used as an ingredient in root beer, giving them very similar tastes, but in my experience, they are generally considered distinct. You can sometimes find sarsaparilla here in the States, but it’s much rarer than root beer.

  50. Around Northern New England, you can find Maple soda. This is basically maple sap (as in the stuff taken directly from the tree prior to boiling for maple syrup) that they’ve carbonated. It’s a lovely, not too sweet, maple flavor.

  51. Oh, and an Asian grocery in the central Business District used to stock Indonesian bootleg Fanta and the ‘Fruit Punch’ flavour was pretty good. Incongruously green, but tasty.

  52. Oh boy, (I don’t drink pop now.) But as a kid, our town had it’s own “pop factory”. The “Aurora Bottling Works”. 24 – 7 oz bottles would come in a nice wooden case. One dollar deposit on the case and bottles and one dollar for the soda. When we’d saved up enough money we’d load a case or two onto our wagon and drag it down for a refill. Chocolate Cream Soda, was a favorite, and always in short supply when you went to fill up your case.

  53. Orangina in the 1980s when it was still made in France. Later, the formula changed, and it became too sweet, like far too many soft drinks.

  54. Apple beer! You can get it in Utah, but hardly anywhere else- I soda-geeked out when I saw it in a restaurant in Florida. I am totally on the “apple soda needs to be more widely available” train. There was also a delicious Mexican apple soda that used to be at Club Cool in EPCOT, but I can’t remember the name.

  55. My dad was a naval officer, and when he would go out to sea in the 1960s (for months at a time), my mom would often take us four kids to the tiny town in Missouri where she grew up, and we would stay with my grandparents. I was aged 7-11 during this period. One of the biggest treats was to go down to the gas station (only one in town) and get a soda out of the chest cooler. My brother and sisters usually got Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper or something else standard, but my favorite was always Chocolate Soldier, kind of a non-carbonated pseudo-chocolate flavored thing, pre-YooHoo. Maybe not really a soda, but that’s my cherished memory.

  56. Birch beer – in VA and CA, it’s pretty rare (though getting more common). Pennsylvania Dutch was the first variety I had, now I love Boylan’s – but I’ll have to keep an eye out for Hank’s, since another commenter says it’s better than Boylan’s.

  57. Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak. Used to be made in the Philly area, but the company was bought out and stopped making it in the 90s. Recently it’s been made by another company. It’s hard to compare against a 30 year old memory, but it seems similar in taste. A few other companies make a black cherry wishing, but they’re noticeably different….

  58. Henry Reinhard’s Cream Soda.
    RC Cola. Haven’t seen it around here in a long time.
    Fanta Birch Beer on tap at the Three Pigs Barbecue in McLean.

  59. I guess Faygo really is a Michigan brand. I like all their flavors but my favorites are Red Pop (tastes like liquid red), Rock ‘n Rye, and Peach.

    My favorite cream soda is Fitz’s cream soda. It’s made in St. Louis, and we were introduced to it by a friend who lived there for a while. Every Christmas, as a treat, we order a case of cream soda and a case of root beer (which is also very good).

  60. Another vote for sarsaparilla, and one not for all tastes: celery soda. In Denver we only get that very rarely (and usually just the Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray, which is okay but not as good as some local brands in the northeast.

  61. Irn Bru, by far. It’s orange! Wait, no, it’s ginger ale! Wait, no, it’s sprite! The flavour seems to change per sip. Also, I loved it long before I realized Scotland views it as a hangover cure, but that’s still a point in it’s favour.

    Also also I got to bond over it with the genius novelist Hal Duncan.

  62. San Pelligrino Chinotto, which is less sweet than Brio Chinotto. Sort of a drier, more herbal cola flavour.

    That, and Manhattan Special – it’s coffee soda! (Espresso, actually) You can’t beat that!

  63. We had Faygo in Athens GA in the early 80’s -> completely random flavors, like pineapple or red. I liked the fact it was 6 (probably 12-oz?) bottles for a dollar

  64. Rob from Phoenix: I definitely remember Rondo! If you Google “Rondo the thirst crusher” you can find quite a few pages about it. Apparently, it was an attempt to spread a popular Aussie brand called Solo. I suspect that many of the “carbonated lemonade” drinks that people have posted about above are variations on Solo. Schweppes Australia produces Solo so I suspect that other Schweppes regional divisions have tried the same drink (or similar) under different names in their areas.

    Rondo is not COMPLETELY forgotten in the US. It was parodied in “Idiocracy” several years ago with ads for “Brawndo: the thirst mutilator”.

  65. I like Polar diet orange dry. It was readily available at supermarkets when I lived in Massachusetts, but I haven’t seen it since I moved to Ohio.

  66. +1 for Cheerwine! There’s one restaurant that still offers it when I go back to the Carolinas, but haven’t seen it otherwise in 10-15 years.

  67. My favorite childhood soda was Fanta’s Red Cream soda. I loved it. I used to buy it in bottles out of a machine in our theatre’s green room. Made me sooo happy. But alas — there is nothing to compare these days.

  68. I never was one for the odd sodas, though I liked grape Nehi back in the day.

    I was flummoxed when Pepsi changed the name of their lemon-lime soda from Slice to Sierra Mist. Aside from the pointlessness, I had a fondness for the old name because it was thought up by my 8th grade social studies teacher. His wife worked for the advertising/consulting company that was supposed to come up with the name and marketing plan.

  69. Bonbon Anglais – I encountered this in Madagascar during my fieldwork there. It’s clear, ridiculously sweet, and tastes something like cotton candy or bubble gum. It allegedly falls in the category of “carbonated lemon drinks”, but I don’t recall lemon having any more to do with the drink than a label.

  70. I thought for sure my soda was sooooooo obscure and definitely NOT a Coca-Cola product, but, well, turns out it’s a Coca-Cola product. When I was in England 15 years ago I had a pineapple/grapefruit flavored soda called Lilt, and I loved it so much that I imported a case to the US when I got back home (no small feat in those days). Haven’t had it since, but I might try to import some again, it was so good…. (and if you Google “Lilt soda” you’ll find the Wikipedia page for it, which is how I found out it’s a Coca-Cola product).

  71. RC Cola, A&W Root Beer in the jug, and Vernor’s Vanilla Ginger Ale. Oh and sometimes Orange Crush on Bronco game-days. (Grew up in the mountains west of Denver).

  72. 7-Up Gold (which I had to google to get the correct name for). It wasn’t something I’d want to drink every day, but it was an interesting change of pace.

  73. Renleigh mentioned RC Cola, but there was a time when I was about 13 that they made a variant that had lemon added to it. I drank bunch of that when I worked at the Fort Benning Rod & Gun Club.

  74. Mine is Almond Smash. Local distributor in Maryland. Haven’t had any since Unicon 88 or 89 (whichever was in Annapolis).

  75. There are three sodas I miss dearly. One is Jones Soda’s Crushed watermelon the other is one you could get at seattle’s best coffee orange and mango handmade soda. The last one is kind odd but it’s vitorin c a tasty japanese helth tonic.

  76. Jones Soda – anything of theirs that is blue ;)
    Nehi cream soda
    New York Seltzer in raspberry — I’d so forgotten about them!
    As a kid, I was Shasta cream soda all the way, back when the cans had the pop tops that peeled off and stood a chance of cutting you decently.
    As a teenager, I lived off Jolt but I don’t think that was because of the taste as much as it was for the extra caffeine and just to say that’s what I had.

    Nowadays, I don’t drink carbonated drinks at all, but now I’m jonesing for some Jones!

  77. Also…strawberry crush, but only with vanilla ice cream in it! It was my preferred float over a root beer one.

  78. “Jamaica’s Finest” the spiciest, most throat burningiest, head permeatingiest Ginger Beer I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve tried all I can find or order online. I get a big ginger buzz, and it is legal, too! Perfect with some kind of burger right from the grill! Ahh! Summer!

  79. Vernors. I grew up with it in Michigan, and now that I live in NJ it can’t be found. Which is a bummer. I miss it.

  80. Green River. Still being manufactured, but it would crop up in Montana when I was a kid. Back then Fresca was exotic.

  81. Yes, I remember Rondo! And Mello Yello!

    And I tried the Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock. It was … interesting, although probably best appreciated buying onsite at a café in Dover Castle or some such, as opposed to buying a 4-pack at my local co-op.

  82. I’m spoiled living in LA; we can get any obscure brand that’s still being made. I have personally purchased and consumed Cheerwine, Dr, Brown’s Cel-Ray, Moxie, Nehi, Sundrop, RC, Faygo, Afri-cola, and others in the LA metro area. Pasadena has a great speciality soda shop.

    Here’s my rare soda story. My parents got some commemorative orange soda for UVA’s ACC win in 1976. They displayed it proudly in their home for many years. One summer day when I was three or four, I came in from play thirsty and tired, so I opened a can and drank it. I can’t remember how it tasted, but I do remember two things: that the can had a different opening tab than what I was used to, and that Mama and Daddy got upset.

  83. Holiday Spice Pepsi. It was sold during the holidays for 3 years or so around the mid-aughts.
    I drank unhealthy amounts of it and still crave it regularly.

  84. A-Treat Cream Soda
    birch beer is good, too.

    I don’t have much of a taste for soda, though; my mom didn’t allow it around the house, so we only had soda for things like birthday parties or picnics.

    I WANT maple soda! I adore real maple syrup, and that sounds like a drink made for me.

  85. Thank you Mr. Scalzi. . .thank you very much for kicking in my long latent Vimto withdrawl symptoms. Again. Thank [redacted] you.


  86. Loved Surge as a teenager and I’ve been told you can get it on Amazon but I haven’t looked into it.

    More recently I quite like Ramune (various brands), don’t get to the Asian market often though.

  87. I also grew up loving Cheerwine when we traveled to North Carolina to visit relatives. Originally it was limited to a fairly small area of distribution, but it eventually got bought by one of the bigger companies and can be found much more widely if you really look. I see it in my local Publix here in Florida often, but only the sweet version, not the diet version which I would be now if I saw it..

  88. Cel-ray, which I usually get at a restaurant that also sells knishes.

    Ting, which I haven’t seen in years.

    Dry cucumber, which I usually order by the case through my local food co-op. I also like the Dry juniper.

  89. I currently drink Orangina. Though it is sweeter than it used to be, it’s still not as sweet as other sodas. A close second is Polar Dry, but that’s only available in New England (it’s produced in Maine) and I live in Colorado.

  90. As I’m no longer a New Englander, I truly miss Polar Birch Beer soda. My dad and I love that stuff.

    On the other hand, I was completely floored when I found out one of our local World Market store had a run of New York Seltzer sodas (still using the styrofoam label I believe, or at least something similar). I was addicted to their vanilla creme as a kid, so I duly bought a handful of them to relive my youth. :)

  91. My husband would love maple soda! My obscure flavor is Mountain Dew Pitch Black II. Not the regular Pitch Black grape, which has also been discontinued, but the sour grape – usually I hate grape anything, but this was incredible.
    I love all Mountain Dew that’s sour, really. They had a lemonade flavor, gone after one season. Red Game Fuel used to be sour cherry, now it’s regular cherry. Any recommendations for sour fruit sodas out there?

  92. Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry. I hardly ever see it in stores around here. They used to serve it in a sandwich shop I frequented in college, but for the life of me I can’t remember the name of that restaurant.

  93. First of all, it’s “pop”, not “soda” (dammit). But answering the question, the Bahamanian pop, Goombay Punch, was quite enjoyable to me when I was in the Bahamas. The dominant flavor is pineapple, and were it caffeinated and available in a diet version at my local grocery store, I’d drink it all the time.

  94. There used to a be a soda machine in my high school that ONLY sold Surge for a quarter a can back in the late 90s. So yea. Surge for the win.

  95. Wilson’s Ginger Ale. It had a distinctive scent. And Grandma always had a bottle in her fridge. We grew up in Southern Ontario. My uncle worked in a pop factory in London Ontario and was always bringing home wild and weird flavours. We never kept pop in the house. It was always a treat saved for special occasions, or camping trips, or family visits.

  96. I used to drink Stewart’s Root Beer (which is still widely available), but just as soon as I needed to switch to diet soda, they stopped making Diet Stewart’s Root Beer (or at least stopped selling it around here). Grrr…

  97. Another vote for Green River soda. Nostalgia from childhood, but I still enjoy the taste. It tastes like…green. That’s about it.

  98. Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda! It’s like a deliciously sweet, carbonated espresso shot that you can drink through a straw. I’ve mostly given up drinking soda, but man oh man any time I visit New York I have to have some of that Manhattan Special.

  99. Big Red’s been mentioned, but I’ll add another, primarily because I remember someone (probably Texas Monthly) describing it as “liquefied bubble gum.” Seems about right. I did enjoy it occasionally as a kid out of the gas station vending machine – the one with a tall, narrow door you’d open to *pull* out your bottle. I think that was part of the appeal – being big and strong enough to pull your own bottle.

    In the 1990s, there was something called “Pepsi Kona” that I acquired a liking for. It failed.

    And, no longer available in the US, Schweppe’s Bitter Lemon. Drunk straight, or, occasionally, with a little gin.

  100. Tab was the soda I grew up with when I was very young. Always had it at my grandparents’ house and that crisp taste brings back strong memories. Sadly, it’s nowhere to be found in SoCal anymore, but Coke Zero is close enough in taste to have become my new favorite soda.

  101. I mainline Coke Life when I can find it, but it is getting harder and harder to find – am worried Coke was just trying it out and is deciding to discontinue it.

  102. Obscure? OK, there’s a Turkish lemonade* that is intriguingly different to most lemonades and that I’ve only ever seen at one restaurant in Canberra (Taze).

    *and which I can’t remember the name of right now.

  103. Tommyknocker Root Beer. The first time I tried it, I was blown away; it surpassed IBC Root Beer, which was my previous “gold standard” for root beer.

    It’s still out there, but I gather you have to go up to the Tommyknocker brewery in Idaho Springs to get it. It used to be available in stores here in Denver, but I haven’t seen it for years.

  104. So many comments… but apple soda, yas! Back in Pakistan we have a locally made soda called Apple Sidra, that is my favourite soda.. only recently have I started finding it at Arab stores in the Cleveland area. Prior to that, though, I was delighted to find that a local Mexican grocery carried something like half a dozen different brands of apple flavoured soda, including ones made by Pepsi and Coke.. so obviously it is a lot more popular south of the border.

  105. Cidral mundet. Also Jamaica, tamarindo and (I think) an orange-mango. You can find them in most Mexican Grocery stores.
    When I was MUCH younger, RC used to make Diet-Rite. Used one of the early, really, really good artificial sweeteners that got banned.

  106. I have three:

    When I was fifteen I did a summer camp in the Bay Area, and they had Stewart’s Peach Soda. I lived abroad, so it was really novel and delicious, and I have NEVER seen it since. I have lived on the east coast for years and have not once seen that flavor.

    Moreover, I’m not sure what flavor Inca Cola is, but you can find it sometimes in the Latin section of supermarkets, and it is DELICIOUS. Try it if you see it.

    Finally, Fioravanti. Owned by Coca Cola, sold (to my knowledge) exclusively in Ecuador, it is a delicious strawberry-flavored soda. They also have an apple flavor I am less fond of.

  107. As to Schweppe’s Bitter Lemon, to this day we buy Schweppe’s Tonic Water, squeeze fresh lemons or squeeze oranges from our trees, and wax nostalgic. My wife invented the Sidecar: a Grapefruit Soda and Vodka. Once I ordered a Campari and Tonic, with a twist of Lime, and Jerry Pournelle said: “Why don’t you just drink wormwood?” By the way, it was Jane Hawking in 1972 or early 1973 who introduced me to Pimm’s Cub — Pimm’s is a brand of fruit cups, but may also be considered a liqueur. It was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm and has been owned by Diageo since 1997.

  108. I loved Bubble Up, which was a 7-UP knock off in the 1970s Back then, my parents bought the knock-off stuff but at Grandma’s house — the real stuff.

    I also loved the Peñafiel grape soda — a mexican concoction I’d always order at the late, great Casa De Eva on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley when my folks took us out to dinner. I see it’s still in business, but all I ever see is Orange, Limon, and Tamarind. Never the grape.

  109. So, for starters, I’m just going to leave this here: There’s at least one in SoCal that offers Tommyknocker and Fentiman’s. Bring your insulin. The biggest problem with this chain is the supply to various stores is a little stilted. The Americana brand of sods they have there are exceptionally good.

    Cherokee Red was a thing in Northern Ohio, Michigan, and Windsor,ON and I suspect still gets sold there at least. IIRC it was an RC brand. Even in high school I still remember it being the biggest ‘bang for one’s buck’ as a kid, since a can was still a quarter while everything else was approaching 75 cents.

    New York Seltzer is back, yes — LAX terminal 7 on the other side of the security cordon and I think in Cleveland are places I’ve seen it in the last half-year.

    I kinda miss Clearly Canadian and Clearfruit. Also, in the early 90s OSU used to sell Ginger beer and cream soda flavors of this brand whose name I can’t remember, but had an image of what was supposed to be some crusty British explorer, replete with a hard beige explorer’s cap.

    Mountain Dew’s flavor contests provided Limewire; which was an incredible version of the extreme only replacing Lemon for more Lime. Why Whiteout won, I have no clue.

    And I’m sad no one has mentioned Sprecher’s yet —
    Their seasonal fruit sodas (apple, blueberry, raspberry, etc.) are something I covet like Gollum does the one ring.

    The sad thing is… the one I miss the most is an iced tea. Coca Cola does Soukenbicha in Japan, which I drink in place of water and most other fluids when I see it in import shops. But the last time they tried to bring it stateside, I think they just asked the American office how they could make it undrinkable, took those answers and ran with it. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to change a formula.

  110. I am middle-aged now and my taste buds have changed and perhaps Delaware Punch is not the ambrosia that my childhood memories tell me it is, but boy, I wish that stuff were still available.

  111. Coco Rico. It’s a coconut soda very readily available in Puerto Rico. It’s not too sweet and has a nice flavor. You can find it in certain bodegas in NYC, but not easily and not often.

    Also, does anyone else remember when Snapple made sodas? I LOVED their Cherry Lime Rickey.

    And not a soda, but when I went to England, I tried and fell in love with Rhibena. It’s nice and tart. You can find it in specialty stores, but it’s pretty expensive.

  112. As Rene noted above, Cheerwine !!!, a product limited to the Piedmont area of North and South Carolina, apparently. Since I live in Oklahoma, I can only get it when I drive back to the Carolinas, where I buy as much as I can jam into the back of my Suburban.

  113. Soda Junky, Sprecher’s draft root beer is so good it actually tastes like regular beer, which I don’t really like, but I do like it when it’s root beer!

    Not to get into an American lexicon derail here, but did anyone else here grow up calling carbonated beverages “soft drinks?”

  114. My favorite soda of all time is Josta, a Pepsi-Cola product introduced in 1995 and discontinued in 1999. I drank so much Josta in my early teens. It contained guarana and had a panther on the label. The soda itself was slightly purple in color, if I recall correctly through the fog of nostalgia. There’s nothing else like it. The closest I’ve found is Bawls, another guarana-containing soda. Bawls is good, but the flavor is just not the same.

    Remembrance of Josta is one of the things my wife and I bonded over when we were first dating.

  115. In Philly, back in the 70s and 80s, the now gone Frank’s Beverage Company used to make a soda flavor called Blue Sky (not to be confused with the current natural soda company, Blue Sky Soda) that was only available on occasion. It was a bright sky blue (as you would expect) and tasted…blue. There’s no other way to describe it, since it didn’t have any flavor that you could pin down as something else. Franks was quite famous for their Black Cherry Wishniak soda, but I’ll still remember them for their foray into esoteric flavors that was Blue Sky.

  116. It’s not from that long ago, but I miss Coke Black — loved the coffee flavor (cue gagging from Mr. Scalzi).
    Also, if you happen to find yourself in Arcadia, Oklahoma, outside Oklahoma City, there is this place:
    It will boggle your mind.

  117. Three things I’ve found that are interesting and unusual:
    -Banana soda (various central american/carribean makers)
    -Cocorico coconut soda
    -Yoho Chocolate soda

  118. I’m only jumping on someone else’s train here, but … yeah, Delaware Punch. Loved it in the 60s, and for a while in the 1990s my local blood bank used to offer it on tap in their canteen (they were getting the syrup from a factory in Mexico). Alas, they’ve stopped.

    And Blenheim #3 Hot ginger ale absolutely rocks.

  119. Dad’s (the Dad’s Root Beer people) used to make a Peaches and Cream soda. Made the best ice cream floats ever. I don’t think I’ve seen it since maybe the mid 90s?

  120. Carver’s Ginger Ale – we would have to take a special road trip to Charlottesville during college to the international food store to get it (it was made in Virginia so who knows why it was sold there). The ginger ale was so light and delicious! But when Coke bought the company, they stopped making it :-(

    Now, my favorite is Americana Ginger Ale by the Orca Bottling Company. World Market doesn’t carry it anymore, so I have to get my fix at Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop – they sell all sorts of obscure flavors/brands (there’s about 70 locations in the US, including Columbus, OH). They’ll even order a case for me and let me know when it’s in…

  121. Faygo Chocolate Cream Pie. Spent a summer in Michigan, never seen it since.

    Nitro cola. Like JOLT, except it actually tasted kinda good.

    ?Mello Yello? Apparently common elsewhere in the US, but I haven’t seen it since my childhood.

    …plus an unknown number of birch beers, cream sodas, and sarsasparillas I’ve had over the years, most particularly the Birch Beer they used to serve at Chadwick’s in Lexington MA (before it got torn down).

  122. I haven’t seen it in over 40 years, since I first immigrated to Canada, but back in the Wash. DC area I used to love grapefruit pop. I was interested to see someone post it above as a President’s Choice flavor — assuming it’s not a trademark conflict, that’s the “house brand” of the Loblaws/Zehrs stores up here, so I should go take a look. Unfortunately Zehrs (the sw Ontario member of the group) has converted many of its stores to Valu-Mart discount stores, with less variety in their stock.

    Back “down there” I loved to use it as my primary alcoholic mixer, particularly with bourbon … I thought I’d invented the combination, but later found a reference to it while browsing through a bartender’s guide, under the fascinating name of “Up in Mabel’s Room”.

  123. As the native New Englander, I hoped that while you were in Boston you tried our regional soda made by Polar of Worcestor, Ma. Diet Double Fudge soda and Orange dry are my personal favorites. .
    What I miss is A and W, root beer on tap, served in a frosted mug. The frosted mug is the missing part. Having a frosted mug at home from a bottle of A and W is not the same thing.
    I hoped you took Athena out for some college tours and visited the Museum of Science, (the lightening show is just cool), or any of Boston’s art gallerias. I think the deCordova out door sculpture park is interesting, yea Boston!
    (I started to write about all the wonderful things one can do in New England, found that I had run on and on and on. Please come back soon, this time I will come to the con instead of completing the honey do list.)

  124. In this country: Doctor Brown’s Cream Soda was my first taste of non-red cream soda and I fell in love.

    England has Fentiman’s Botanically Brewed Beverages, all of which are mighty tasty & not overly sweet, which is a problem with most American soft drinks. The Rose Lemonade & the Ginger Beer are *amazing*, as is the Victorian Lemonade. You can get Fentiman’s at specialty beverage shops in this country, but you really do have to look.

  125. Anything grapefruit! Penafiel and some other Mexican ones and a carbonated fruit drink from the 80s, Sundance Sparklers grapefruit which I loved because it wasn’t really sweet. Now I drink coffee and almost never drink sodas anymore.

  126. Old Tyme Jamaican Ginger Beer; when I was in grad school at UPenn I lived a few blocks down from a drink distributor so could easily get it a case at a time.

    Canada Dry Lime soda; available in NC and PA in the 70s and 80s. Also Canada Dry Lime Rickey (not the same thing), that I’ve only seen in Ontario.

    Cactus Cooler is still available in SoCal and the Southwest.

    Dr. Brown’s Pale Ginger Ale.

    And from back when these were obscure with respect to North Carolina and outside their regions, Vernor’s and Orangina. White Birch Beer, particularly Polar and Foxon Park, is still hard to find outside New England.

    I forget the brand name, but there’s a Passion Fruit soda in Britain that I make a point of drinking when over there.

  127. Only two mentions of Schweppe’s Bitter Lemon. As a pre-teen (a LONG time ago) I used to love that. Apparently it was flavoured with quinine, and the powers-that-be decreed that this was not good for us. Probably true, but I miss it.

  128. I’d never heard of Aspen soda until your post. Mine’s not nearly as obscure, but I adored Creme Soda. Even better than the taste was the unique scent inhaled through the mouth.

  129. L&P. You can get it pretty much everywhere in New Zealand but it’s completely unheard of elsewhere. At least I can be reasonably sure that it will still be there when I go back.

  130. I fondly remember Yoo-Hoo, which for all I know you can still get but I haven’t looked for it in many years (carbonated drinks bad for calcium absorption, and I’ve already got osteoporosis). And I’d dearly love to try some of the flavors mentioned above (I may have dreams about maple soda). If you’re in Berkeley, you can still get Dr. Brown’s sodas at Saul’s Deli. And oh yeah, Vernor’s! which makes a lovely float with coffee ice cream.

  131. I don’t suppose you could organize a soda tasting at a con?

    I have fond memories of playing Call of Cthulu over Jolt cola, and drinking Irn Bru as a grad student at U of Glasgow.

    That said, I’m adding kvass to the list. It’s made of fermented rye bread, and tastes like a less sugary ginger ale. Here in the US I can only find it in expat delis.

  132. Another vote for Sangria Señorial! I discovered it in high school and have loved it ever since.

  133. Another A-Treat fan here. Their only production facility (Allentown, PA) closed down last year. When I lived in the Midwest in the 1980s, I would drive back and forth, sometimes bringing cases of quart glass bottles of A-Treat lemon soda 1200 miles west. They quit making lemon years ago (although they still made lemon-lime until the end). I have a plastic 2-liter of birch beer in reserve.

  134. I visited Australia decades ago. During my trip, I became fond of a carbonated lemonade called Taurine Spa. It had an unusual mineral taste, as if the bottle had been spiked with a bit of baking soda. Unless I return to Australia, I doubt I will ever see it again.

  135. Nick, where I come from is is most definitely NOT “pop”. Pop is the guy at the deli who sells it to you. It’s soda, and the best is Appalachian Brewing Company’s Diet Root Beer. Sweetened with stevia and just a touch of honey. Slightly different from what one usually finds, and absolutely delicious. Makes great floats, too.

  136. I loved Aspen. I didn’t think anyone else even remembered it. Manzanita Sol isn’t bad, and the apple-flavored Ice is actually quite good. But not the same.

    Other sodas (yes, SODA – pop me no pop) that I miss:

    Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer (like root beer, but with a slightly sweeter taste and a wintergreen bite)

    Irn Bru (something I found in Scotland – it’s like baby aspirin, but surprisingly addictive)

    Moxie (a definitely acquired taste that you can’t really find outside of Maine)

    Surge (what Mountain Dew wanted to be)

    Josta (a guarana soda from the 90s)

    Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak (a Philadelphia favorite)

  137. @Rebecca mentioned L&P – the tagline for a while was “world famous in New Zealand”, as indeed it is a locally-made drink (now taken over by the Coca-Cola company). There is now also an “L&P Sour” which is much nicer in my opinion – not nearly as sweet, and a much stronger lemon flavor.

    if anyone is really keen…

  138. “” was supposed to be in my last comment, but it looks like that got stripped out. Sorry about that.

  139. This isn’t a weird flavour, but Green River soda was my dad and my favourite growing up. We each always had a frosty mug full when we dined at the Monroe Cafe.

  140. To all who referenced carbonated lemonade, there is a beverage in the states “Limoncello” sold at Meijer’s chain stores (not available online though). It compares with what they sell in Italy. You might also find it at World Market in glass bottles. That said, give me an ice cold Faygo Rock-n-Rye any day!

  141. I used to love Thomas Kemper Orange Cream Soda. They’ve been bought and sold a few times now, and I don’t think they make that flavor anymore. Ah, nostalgia for the 90s ;)

  142. I like Fanta Lemon, which I’ve never seen in the U.S. (presumably because Fanta is owned by Coca-Cola, which also owns Minute Maid). I get it when I’m visiting family in Hungary. In the U.S., RC is my favorite cola, but a local company here in Washington state, Orca Beverage Co. ( buys up old trademarks and re-issues some classic drinks like Lemmy, Cock ‘N Bull ginger beer and Dad’s root beer.

  143. Glad you got to look at the weird local tonics (not soda! It’s a regional thing) and maybe sample a few. I’m sorry that we couldn’t find some of Polar’s weirder flavors.

    Back before they got bought out by Pepsi, I loved the old Mountain Dew. It was thicker, less carbonated, and greener; perhaps it had more propylene glycol. It was certainly sweeter. You could only get it in the south.

  144. Red Rock Ginger Ale. Found it a couple times in TN near Knoxville, haven’t seen it since. It’s apparently available online for $9 per six-pack … plus $18 shipping. :(

  145. If you want apple soda, most Mexican food stores will carry one of several brands. A soda that is hard for me to get is Sangria Senorial.

  146. Oh, has anyone mentioned Ting? Jamaican grapefruit soda (think Squirt, except less awful). And possibly my favorite one to say, because you can’t not say it musically: “TIIINGGGGggggggg … “

  147. It’s neither “soda” to “pop” but “Coke” regardless who makes it. As in, “What sort of Coke y’all want?”

    Several other people have mentioned:
    San Pellegrino Blood Orange (they also have a Tangerine flavor!)
    Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Soda (best diet soda *ever*)
    Orangina (I drink it in Europe where the still have the less sweet formulation)
    Reed’s Ginger Beer

    Add to that a couple of other ginger beers:
    Bunderburg Ginger Beer (a tad on the sweet side but very good)
    Gosling’s Ginger Beer (less sweet than Bunderburg)

  148. Barq’s Yellow Creme Soda. Even though they’re owned by Coke now, they weren’t then (it was discontinued sometime in the early ’90s and I think Coke didn’t get their claws into them until the mid 90s). It hit a nice flavor between the French Vanilla and the Red Creme sodas. Looked a little like pee though, which is my guess as to why it was eventually discontinued – though, you could make the same argument about the current French Vanilla, so who knows. In any case, I miss it.

  149. Add me to the Blenheim chorus. Their pink cap is the only ginger ale worthy of the name. I loved me some Delaware Punch, too. The KFC near my childhood home had it on tap and I couldn’t begin to tell you what it tasted like, but I most definitely loved it.

  150. A second vote for chinotto. I’ve never seen it outside Italy. Last time at Rome airport I had a great radler made with it…

  151. Coke II (sort of in between Coke and Pepsi with a little more vanilla in the mix)

    Shasta sodas Grape, Grapefruit, and something that was basically “Red”
    I had totally forgotten about Josta.

  152. We didn’t really drink soda when I was growing up, but we would sometimes have Ribena, a blackcurrant drink! Yum. The rhubarb soda sounds interesting (Love rhubarb) as does the maple. I once found a great ginger beer at a Jamaican market, back when I lived in MD. YUM.

  153. Colombiana soda. It can be found outside Colombia in a very few New York bodegas. It is amber-colored, sweet, with a flavor that defines analysis, though the company has stated it is supposed to taste like champagne.
    It does not.
    Pretty good, though.

  154. Seven Up Gold- had it a few times in middle school, loved it.

    Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda. it’s soda! It tastes kind of like celery! Nobody else likes it, so I don’t need to worry about having it stolen from the fridge at work!

  155. Canfield’s also made a diet chocolate cherry soda that I used to get when I picked up the Sunday paper.

  156. I liked Squirt quite a bit, but that’s not really obscure; I still see it now and then. (Liked it better when the liquid wasn’t all clear, there were traces of actual fruit juice in the older versions.)

    Also a big fan of a number of kinds of ginger beer including Blennheim and some Jamaican stuff we saw now and then in the 80s.

  157. As a kid in the 1970s and early 1980s, I really liked Welch’s Strawberry Soda. I’m sure the color and flavor were completely artificial, but I liked it. My current supermarket used to carry Goya Strawberry Soda and now carried Fanta Strawberry Soda, but it’s not the same.

    On the plus side, they do carry Tab in sleeves of 12, so I’m happy as long as I beat the other Tab drinker who shops at the same Giant to the 4 sleeves they put out every Wednesday.

  158. Passion fruit Fanta. I had it in Tanzania and loved it, but as far as I can tell it isn’t sold in the States.

  159. Schweppes Bitter Lemon. It’s essentially Club Lemon Soda with a bit of quinine added for the “bitters” edge, and it tastes pretty much like fizzy lemon squash with a bit of a dry finish. It isn’t precisely obscure – it’s readily available in just about every supermarket as a four-pack of “mixer” type drinks in small bottles. However, that’s pretty much the only location and format it is available in. They don’t do a 1.25L bottle of the stuff, like most of their mixers – it’s only in the little glass 300mL bottles. If you want to drink one cold, you have to buy it warm (unless you find one of the dozen or so lunch bars or service stations which actually bothers to put ’em in the fridges, rather than another row of whichever cola they’re supplying) and supply the chilling via your own fridge.

    Alternatively, anything by Margaret River Beverages. Mostly because they’re local to my state, and even here they’re more likely to have their stuff found in places which deliberately go for a “quirky” or “individual” range. (Or in other words, lighter on the stuff from the Coca-Cola company, and thus filling up a lot more gaps on the shelves).

    Admittedly, those are the sorts of places I prefer to look for, since the standard “Coke” range here in Western Australia consists of Coca-Cola (regular, zero, diet), Fanta orange fizz (colour; flavour is mostly sugar with a dash of sweet citrus), Sprite clear lemonade, Lift lemon flavoured fizz, Mt Franklin bottled water, Pump bottled water (optional), and Gouldburn Valley orange juice. That’s pretty much it – and that’s usually the whole variety you can find at most “chain” food places (burger chains, pizza chains, chicken chains, etc). It fills a standard double-door drinks display fridge – one side cola, the other side “everything else”.

    Then again, I’m rather fussy in my taste for fizzy drinks, and I’ve rather gone off the “all the sugar you can drink” varieties. If I’m likely to drink anything, it’s going to be tonic water (another mixer – vaguely citrus-y, rather bitter finish) or the aforementioned bitter lemon.

    Oh, and my “unusual but more readily available” choice is Pasito, a passionfruit-flavoured fizzy drink which is done by Kirks and available cold in 1.25L bottles from the right sorts of pizza places. (Or warm from the supermarkets).

    JayDzed – I remember Weaver & Lock – they used to do home deliveries, which I suspect was a big part of their selling point, since it meant you didn’t have to go out chasing through the supermarkets to find their products. Of course, it also meant getting a crate of fizzy drink sitting on your front doorstep in the middle of an Aussie summer day; risking the local kids pilfering the lot before you got home; and also you could only get the twelve-bottle crate, no less. I think the thing which killed ’em off was a combination of Coca-Cola/Pepsi deciding that straight monopoly was better than near-monopoly, and the health kick toward the end of the 1980s, when everyone started screaming blue murder about the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks.

    S Wyatt: See, I’d make a distinction, because here in Australia, “lemonade” means the clear stuff which is only vaguely lemon flavoured. To us, Solo is a variation on what Kirks (used to be Gest here in WA) sells as “Club Lemon Soda” – a pale yellow fizzy drink which tastes more of lemon than of sugar (as opposed to lemonade, which tastes more of sugar syrup than lemon), or what the Coca-Cola company labels as “Lift”. Carbonated lemon squash, in other words. Of course, all of them tend to taste more or less of sugar.

  160. Frostie Root Beer.

    In no way, shape, or form does this compare with the many great root beers in the world, but my very first memory in life is sitting on my dad’s shoulders as he walked through the snow up to a soda machine. He bought two Frostie Root Beers and gave me one. We drank them as we walked through the snow back to the apartment we lived in.

  161. I have 2, that I couldn’t choose between, because without a time machine, I can’t compare them. Phoenix Organic Cola – not an organic obsessive, or anything, it just tastes so rich and smooth. L&P – back in the 80s before the recipe got corporatized (went from actual lemon and actual paeroa (sp?) to comparably flavoured chemicals) – I never drank coke or anything as a kid in NZ, cos we had L&P.
    NB – I don’t live in NZ now, so either of these is obscure and rare…

  162. I have two formally obscure, now more widely distributed favorites: Vernor’s and Big Red. I grew up in Michigan and didn’t realize Vernor’s was local until I moved away. I discovered Big Red from a Texan friend whose family would bring it to her.

  163. Two – one for grownups (San Pellegrino pompelmo) and one for the eternal kid in me (Portello – any way you can get it.)

    Jolt Cola is back?? Hot Damn!!

    Also – Fresca — all but unobtainable in Australia, except from USA foods.

  164. 1. A shout out to all the current and phormer Philadelphians remembering Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak /VISH-nik/. I liked Frank’s Orange best of all.
    “Is it Frank’s? Thanks!”

    2. Ting made the news almost a quarter-century ago in its trademark war with Tang. It’s the sort of thing you drink while watching Cool Runnings.

  165. Olde Tyme *Sugar Free* Ginger Beer. Miss it so much. Haven’t found a sugar free ginger beer nearly as potent/spicy in years of trying.

  166. another chinotto vote – my local ethnic food grocery store carries the San Pellegrino variety, which is close but sweeter than I remember. All my friends think it’s disgusting, LOL.

  167. John, come back to Texas and we’ll hook you up with some Jarritos. All the flavors you could want and a couple that you really shouldn’t (tamarind?).

    Coca-Cola Blak, for sure.

    Our local upscale grocery chain has a line of bottled organic Italian sodas, and I’m very fond of the ginger ale/lemon/chili and lemon/basil/fennel flavors. Their not-upscale sister chain has some new low-carbonation, low-calorie fizzy waters; I’ve enjoyed the cranberry tangerine and the strawberry watermelon.

    Anywhere that has a Coke Freestyle machine, I’ll get either a raspberry or lime Coke Zero, sometimes with a little vanilla mixed in.

    I tried Moxie on a trip to New England last fall and loved it.

    In Germany a few years back, I tried Mezzo Mix, which is half Coke and half orange Fanta. I tried it a LOT.

    IBC (of root beer fame) used to make a cherry limeade soft drink that was quite nice.

  168. Zuberfizz from Durango Colorado particularly the creamy rootbeer and the orange cream. Also Rocky Mountain Soda Co.’s Pikes Peak Prickly Pear or the Evergreen Elderberry that makes me think of the smell of grandmothers. (OK it is yummy. but elderberry has associations.)

    Yes- Colorado does more great craft beverages than beer.

    Also like the diet Bundaberg Ginger Beer from Australia. It does seem that diet/sugar free is seriously a harder beverage to make.

  169. I used to like Wink, a grapefruit-flavored soda made by Canada-Dry. I believe it was originally marketed under the name Sparkling Grapefruit, which, hard to believe, apparently wasn’t catchy enough. I can no longer drink it, as taking Lipitor is incompatible with imbibing anything grapefruit-derived. And that is the sad story, kids: one day you, too, may no longer be able to handle grapefruit soda.

  170. Mello-Yello, might not count due to it’s having been made by one of the big-two; but it’s discontinued status is my excuse for adding it.

  171. I grew up drinking Barq’s, a Biloxi, Mississippi sarsparilla soda that was later bought by Coca-Cola (sadly). It came in a very cool bottle with a diamond patterned neck. Good stuff.

  172. “Favorite” only in that it was a great joke contribution to bring to fannish parties, but Japan’s “Calpis” is way way better than its name would suggest, even though it’s milk based.

    In the same Japanese stores that sell Calpis one can get Ramune, which Stephanie mentioned above without mentioning its best feature: its very strange two-chambered bottle, stopped by a little glass marble in the neck, which one opens by pushing the marble back down into the bottle where it rattles around in the upper chamber as one drinks it.

  173. Top Pop’s Blue Pop. It’s available at Wawa back east, but here on the Best Coast, it’s impossible to find.

    I dunno if Clearly Canadian qualifies, but it’s been discontinued for years and I loved it. There was a kickstarter or indiegogo or something a while back to reboot the brand, which I am optimistic about.

  174. Not sure what it was actually called, but growing up in the 70’s and 80’s of Ohio, we called it “Red Pop.” And could only get it at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Today, it would most likely be the Cherry or seasonal Blueberry Sodas by Spretcher Brewing, WI.

  175. Inca Soda!
    I had a girlfriend (later a wife, later an ex-wife) who spent a lot of time in Peru, up near the Altiplano, in a small town. It is something like creme soda, only sweeter and not as good. Best drunk after chewing on cocoa leaves.

  176. Thanks, Assad, for reminding me of Apple Sidra. My favourite drink from my time in Pakistan. L&P from my time in New Zealand (yes it’s still available, but not here). And there was a really great pomegranate soft drink from Turkey (I think, maybe Syria or Lebanon?) whose name escapes me now. That was a long time ago.

  177. As an American living in Australia, I have two answers:

    My favorite that I can’t get here: Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer. Root beer generally, actually — root beer is pretty much the one soda Australians don’t drink — but Weinhard’s was my hometown brand, and is still my favorite. I miss it and all root beer desperately (and I suppose, being in one of the big cities in AUS — Brisbane — I’d find it here if I could find it anywhere), but I haven’t had any in years.

    @windtear above, root beer is related to sarsaparilla but isn’t quite sarsaparilla. Basically it’s sarsaparilla with extra flavors added and brewed slightly differently. (Which is to say, they’re very close in how they’re made but I don’t think they taste much the same at all.)

    My favorite that’s hard to find here: Bundaberg pineapple & coconut. It’s delicious, but for some reason none of the local grocery stores like to stock it. I can sometimes find it at one of the stores in the mall, though, so that’s a plus.

  178. Things I don’t get any more:

    Big Red.
    Faygo Red Pop.
    RC Cola.
    YooHoo chocolate soda (which you can still get at the Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto, among other extremely yummy things such as their homemade ice cream).

    Things I get every now and then as a treat:
    Henry Weinhard’s Cream Soda and Root Beer
    Stewart’s Orange Cream Soda
    Reed’s Ginger Beer

    In fact, if I wasn’t sick right now I’d grab a bottle of the root beer …

  179. Pink Creaming Soda. I think it’s a Kirk’s?
    Growing up we usually didn’t have soft drink (as us Aussies call it) except occasionally at a birthday party or something. The usual options always seem(ed) to be Coca-cola, (orange or occasionally yellow) Fanta, or Kirk’s Lemonade/ Sprite.
    When I could, I’d go for the pink Creaming Soda, if it was there for once.

  180. Now this is an odd bit of synchronicity. In Japan on business, I spotted “Pepsi Strong Zero” and thought that this was something you should assuredly know about, but it seemed a poor excuse to bug you by email and I do not do the twitters. Then I see this post when I get to the hotel.ペプシ-ペプシストロング-ゼロ-500ml×24本/dp/B00Y6UZ5Q4/ref=sr_1_2/378-8119191-6425522?ie=UTF8&qid=1453281115&sr=8-2&keywords=pepsi+zero

    It is…not something that will ever by my favorite. So I apologize for the off topic post.

    The Final Fantasy branded “Mana” sodas I had here five years or so ago, though…those were worth buying.

  181. I think it would have to be “Mac Black Orange”, which may possibly not be manufactured anymore. The flavour is a blend of “orange soda” and “generic cola soda” and it is very very tasty indeed.

    The Intenet reliably informs me that it now exists again, for (at least) the third time. This is very good news indeed. Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t exist in the country I now live, but that is what airplanes were invented for.

  182. I miss Panda Cola which was lightly carbonated and more viscous than other brands and could be had for the princely sum of 8p when I was a kid. They did a red one too but I preferred the original.

    One summer in California we enjoyed trying Grape Fanta which then seemed to disappear from the face of the earth. Is it still around?

  183. Fizzy Vimto, which is a British grape and raspberry drink with added secret herbs and spices. Nothing else on earth tastes like it, so it’s difficult to describe.
    I’m also a big fan of Dandelion & Burdock, which is another British soda flavoured with two garden weeds. It’s vaguely sarsparilla tasting.

  184. Aspen Apple soda, yay!
    Canada Dry, in the early to mid seventies in upstate New York, was test marketing these seriously flavorful fruit sodas. Really grapey grape soda, orange that was not super sugary, etc. If I still drank soda I would definitely appreciate one of those

  185. Oh, yeah, and Squirt, a grapefruit soda. Canada Dry’s Wink was similar,but Squirt was better.

  186. In my childhood I drank an alleged Vulcan drink called Leepril which was made by mixing 50/50 ice tea (one Lipton tea bag per quart or more of water) and Fresca (from the single-serving glass bottles–Fresca hasn’t been the same since it went to plastic).

    I don’t much like soda anymore, so what I really miss is the cranberry flavored generic Crystal Light that Wal-Mart used to sell. Apparently I was the only one that liked it.

  187. Pathmark Brand Birch Beer. Distinctly different than Root Beer, and of course there are no Pathmarks here in the Midwest. Not even sure Pathmarks back east still has it…

    Doubt it, since Pathmark went out of business a few months ago.

  188. Epsa. I don’t think it’s available outside Greece- it’s a range of soft drinks made in the city of Volos. My personal favourite is the sour cherry, but they also do lemon, orange and fizzy water. And they come in beautiful glass bottles (although they’re also available in plastic bottles and cans).

  189. Orange “Limonade” – it was a carbonated lemonade, only with orange added to make it sweeter. When I was a kid living on an Army base in (then) West Germany in the 1960s, I used to buy it “on the economy” (at German-run stores), usually with a chocolate-covered marshmallow pastry that had a very crunchy waffle on the bottom.

    I haven’t encountered it since we moved back to the US in the early Seventies.

  190. Barq’s red creme soda, particularly if poured over vanilla ice cream from Graeter’s…

  191. Ale-8-1, though we just called it “Ale-8”, a caffeinated ginger-ale that I’ve only seen in Kentucky.

  192. Pig Iron Cola, which is from a Seattle BBQ place, and is a very full-bodied, slightly orangey cola. My wife says it “tastes like Pepsi *used* to taste” but I think it’s a little fuller. You can find it somewhat randomly around Western Washington, as it is bottled by a local distributor (Orca Beverage — they have an online store, apparently) that also has licenses to do a lot of old almost-gone sodas (Green River! Dad’s! Nesbitt’s!)

  193. My favorite will always be Josta. Like David Jewell, it was something I drank a ton of as a teen, and then bonded with my now-husband over in college. I honestly asked him if he’d made up a name because the story is the same. I originally spoke to him because he was wearing a shirt with the Josta panther on the front.

    I’m also a fan of many of the green sodas that have been discontinued over the years. Surge (kinda back), dnL, MDX, etc.

  194. Amazingly enough, I have one which hasn’t been mentioned in 239 comments so far:
    Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum soda, which was available in regular and diet.
    It was a bright pink soda, which tasted like it said on the label, but was only on the market in the late 1980s.

  195. 1. Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak. (No other black cherry sodas will truly suffice.)

    2. Sarsaparilla. Admittedly I have not tried many types. Maine Root makes one that I love and it is often, but not always, available in my area.

    3. Yes! I’m the diehard who emailed you to comment on your Twitter pic of Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock! I actually really like it, but I find it hard to describe why. Commenting on something someone above said: I don’t think it tastes AT ALL like sarsaparilla. More “green”, a bit more bitter?

  196. Lilt. Only sold in the UK (by Coca-Cola), it’s a pineapple-grapefruit soda and it is so, so good.

    I was in London this summer, briefly, and had some. I wish I’d bought a case of it to bring back. It’s my favorite soda, and there’s nothing like it anywhere else.

  197. John, when you’re in Texas, visit the local grocery store or have the con crew make a run. We have apple soda by at least 2 companies, as well as other unique flavors like pineapple, strawberry, mango, etc. I’m not talking Fanta, either.

  198. Moxie – An acquired taste, for sure. It was invented by Silver Spring in Easton, MA, and eventually bought by the Coca-Cola company.

    Polar Half & Half – A grapefruit/lime soda. Amazingly thirst quenching! I came across this in college and I’ve been drinking it ever since.

    Polar Orange Vanilla Seltzer – Gets away from all the sugar, etc. Refreshing to drink, it’s like drinking an orange creamsicle.

    Polar Black Cherry Seltzer – Again, away with sugar and artificial sweeteners. When this goes on sale, it flies off the shelves! I’ll often buy up to eight 12-packs at a time when on sale to stock up.

    Coca-Cola from Mexico – When someone from Mexico drinks Coca-Cola up here in the United States, they suddenly gag and spit it out saying, “What the hell is this crap?!?” In Mexico Coca-Cola is made with honest to God SUGAR. It tastes amazing! Want to taste what Coke was like back in the day? Drink this and be amazed how much better it tastes! (Warning: drink this real Coca-Cola and you’ll never be able to drink the high fructose corn syrup crap we’re saddled with up here in the States ever again.)

    Homemade Root Beer – When I was 15, I decided to make some root beer. I guess when I bottled it, I didn’t filter it or something because during the two week period I let it sit in the garage loft, it fermented. To this day, over 35 years later, friends still talk about it. In fact, we were just talking about it earlier this evening before I jumped online and saw this thread. Perhaps I will try again this summer. With some luck, maybe lightning will strike twice…

  199. Pathmark pina colada soda. Exactly what the name implies, and the one thing I was hoping to find during the local Pathmark’s closing sale. No such luck.

  200. Tarax Black Label Lemonade. The best lemonade ever to be mass-produced in Australia. Sadly it seems to be a thing of the past now. I don’t even remember the last time I saw a bottle.

  201. VegitaBeta, I have no idea if there’s anywhere you could actually purchase it though, only had it at Epcot

  202. Marsh’s Sass.

    It was a northern England version of the US sarsaparilla, created to support the submariners during the Second World War but unfortunately banned due to the ingredients in the 1990s.

    I miss that taste – it reminds me of visiting family