Nostalgia is a look at what we loved, way back when. Teri is a journalist who enjoys writing about life and the cool stuff of yesteryear.
Whether it is cola, root beer, fruit-flavored, or diet, if you drink soda pop or non-carbonated beverages, you have your own taste-bud-pleasing favorites. From the soda fountains of yesterday to the plastic pop bottles of today, many brands have hit the marketplace; some are still here, and some are long gone. The fizzy stuff now called “liquid candy" actually has a very long history.
The Early Days of Soda Pop and Soft Drinks
The earliest types of carbonated soft drinks were waters found in natural mineral springs. In the 13th century, fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetation (such as dandelions) were used to ferment and flavor carbonated waters. Non-carbonated soft drinks made up of water, honey, and lemon juice appeared in the late 1600s. In 1767, Englishman Joseph Priestley mixed water and carbon dioxide; the result was soda (carbonated) water. Juices, wines, and spices were added to the soda water; the products were sold in English pharmacies.
Phosphate soda was introduced in the United States in the late 19th century. Soda fountain drinks with fruit juice, phosphoric acid, and carbonated water became very popular, and by the early 1920s, most drugstores featured soda fountains.
Soda fountains were popular in dime and drugstores, ice cream parlors, department stores and train stations. During the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s and 1950s, many stores that with soda fountains installed snack and lunch counters to sell sandwiches, ice cream treats and chocolate phosphates. In the 1960s, the appearance of vending machines, drive-in restaurants and dairy dessert stands meant that fewer drugstores and the like featured an “old-fashioned” soda fountain. Currently, vintage soda fountains may be found at locations that promote the nostalgia of days past.
“Pop”-ular Bottled and Fountain Soda Pops
- Coca Cola: In 1888, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton mixed up sweet, brown-colored syrup with soda water. Coca-Cola was then sold at a neighborhood drug store that had a soda fountain, selling about nine 5-cent glasses per day. Coca-Cola has developed many products in its long history including Sprite (1961), TaB (1963) and Fanta (1941).
- Cotton Club: The Cotton Club Bottling Company of Cleveland, Ohio was founded in 1902 as Miller-Becker Bottlers, named after Isaac Miller and Eli Becker. In 1954, a new bottling plant was built on E. 49th street when, that same year, soft drinks were sold in cans as well as bottles. The company name was changed to Cotton Club in 1963. During the 1960s and 1970s, the company bottled a variety of soft drinks with the Cotton Club name; grape, orange, ginger ale (and a ginger ale called Big Ginger 50/50, cola, root beer, cherry-strawberry, a fruit punch-soda called Tropical Delight and a red pop called Cherikee Red. Some Cotton Club products are still available in Ohio.
- Dr Pepper: Introduced in 1885, Dr Pepper (with no period to punctuate the Dr) was marketed in the United States after the turn of the century. Its taste is, according to company leaders, hard to describe; the formula contains 23 flavors. The soda was promoted as a refreshing “pick-me-up” drink, much like its competitors. Early marketing slogans for Dr Pepper included “Good For Life” (1940s), “Dr Pepper Has 23 Flavors” (1945), “The Friendly Pepper Upper” (1950), “America’s Most Misunderstood Soft Drink” (1960), “The Most Original Soft Drink Ever” (1970) and the popular “Be a Pepper” campaign of the late 1970s.
- Hires Root Beer: Created in 1876 by Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires, the product began as a powdered extract that consumers could mix with their own soda water. In 1888, Hires developed a liquid product for drugstore soda fountains and the root beer was bottled in 1890. The company was sold in the 1960s and changed hands several times through the 1980s. Dr Pepper Snapple Group now owns the Hires brand.
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- Pepsi Cola: Pepsi was developed in 1898; created by North Carolina drugstore owner Caleb Bradham. The Pepsi company organized in 1902 and set its trademark a year later. By 1907, there were 40 factories creating the Pepsi syrup; producing 100,000 gallons that year. Because the price of sugar fluctuated dramatically following World War I, along with poor business decisions, the company went bankrupt in 1923.
The Pepsi company was purchased at auction but went bankrupt again following the Great Depression of the 1930s. After reorganization, the company introduced the 12-ounce, 5-cent bottle of Pepsi, paving the way to the product’s success. Early marketing slogans for Pepsi include “Twice As Much For a Nickel” (1940s), “The Light Refreshment” (1950s), “Taste That Beats the Others Cold” (mid 1960s) and “You’ve Got a Lot to Live” (early 1970s).
- RC (Royal Crown) Cola: RC Cola was actually ginger ale when first created by Claud Hatcher in the basement of his family’s grocery store in 1905. The company, called Union Bottling Works, produced cherry-flavored Chero-Colaand then changed its name to the Chero-Cola Company. The company changed its name again in 1928 to the Nehi Corporation when the fruit-flavored carbonated soft drinks became popular. The company created Royal Crown Cola in 1934 and the first sugar-free soda pop on the market was introduced in 1962; Diet Rite Cola.
More Soda Pops and Soft Drinks
7 Up/Lithiated Lemon/Seven Up (1929)
Dad's Root Beer (1937)
Frostie Root Beer (1939)
Mission (assorted flavors, 1929)
Bubble Up (1919)
Diet-Way Cola (1962)
Good Grape (1922)
Nehi (assorted flavors, 1924)
Barq's Root Beer (1898)
Sun Drop (1949)
Big Red Cream Soda (1937)
Dr. Brown's (assorted flavors, 1865)
IBC Root Beer (1919)
Orange Crush (assorted flavors, 1906)
Super Coola (assorted flavors, 1949)
Bireley's Fruit Drinks (assorted flavors, 1930)
Knapp's Root Beer Extract (Circa 1890)
Pommac (1919, U.S. sales in 1963-1969)
Boylan's (assorted flavors, 1891)
Filbert's Old Time Root Beer (1926)
Kreemo Special Root Beer (1909)
Red Rock Ginger Ale (1885)
Triple XXX Root Beer (1895)
Canada Dry Ginger Ale (1904)
Fitz's Root Beer (1947)
Lemon's Superior Sparkling Ginger Ale (1871)
Schweppes Ginger Ale (1870)
Try-me (assorted flavors, 1919)
Foxon Park (1922)
Marvel/Jumbo/Double Cola (1924)
Schweppes Bitter Lemon (1957)
Minute Maid (1945)
White Rock Beverages (1871)
Cola or Uncola?
Questions & Answers
Question: Where can I buy Hires root beer?
Answer: Hires has a limited distribution in the United States, as its bottler now focuses on other brands like A & W Root Beer. The Hires brand is part of the company that owns Dr. Pepper. You can find it online on Amazon and Walmart.
Question: Have you ever heard of a soft drink called "Get Up?" It was sold in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the 1950s.
Answer: I have never heard of that drink, but, as of this date, there is a "Get Up" soda bottle for sale on eBay. (I cannot verify its original authenticity). Here's what I've learned about "Get Up:" It was a non-alcoholic beverage lemon soda, and it was first released in 1934. Its trademark was registered in February 1935 by its parent company Golden Age Ginger Ale of Youngstown, Ohio.
Question: Would you know if Dr Pepper was ever sold in cans in the 1940s, even as a trial run? I cannot find information about this and do not think it was sold in cans until the 1960s.
Answer: I have seen photos of old Dr Pepper cans with the cone shaped tops and capped lids, but I don't know if any were made in the 1940s -- I don't think so, as I believe that gimmick was from the 1950s. To the best of my knowledge, the soft drink was only sold in bottles during the 1940s.
Question: Do you remember Peer Cherry Cola?
Answer: I've seen several pictures of old 12 oz. Peer Cherry Cola soda cans that are red, white and silver. They were made from steel (not aluminum) and had the pull top opening. I can't tell you the manufacturing location or sales dates, but the artificially-colored product was preserved with benzoic acid, ascorbic acid, and stannous chloride (yikes, sounds scary!). If you should find one of these cans with a manufacturing location printed on it, check with folks from that city's historical society for any information they may have in their archives.
Question: Ever hear of Click Root Brew Root Beer? Its slogan was "Real fresh and delicious." It was made in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
Answer: Not before today but it's been fun to investigate. From the 1960s and distributed by the Click Beverage Company in Conshohocken, PA, the Click Root Beer can was the standard 12-ounce size. Branding colors in a paisley-like pattern were burnt-sienna orange and a mustard yellow. The lower-case "i" was dotted with a flower-star asterisk. I also saw a photo of a "Click" can sporting three people, snow-topped letters in strong block font, and the words in script: "Real Fresh and Delicious Root Beer." Apparently, Click Root Beer was available or produced at the 7-Up plant in Conshohocken. As with many small bottlers, further information may be available through the area's historical society.
Question: Hello, there was a chocolate drink from when I was a child in the 1960s, can you remember the name?
Answer: I have a couple of items you can Google for more info, although, for the moment, I'm not sure about their exact dates. Still, perhaps these will strike a note: Chocolate Soldier was packaged in tall bottles with the Nutcracker-like graphic printed in front. Cocoa-Marsh was a milk additive along the lines of Bosco. In the 1960s, the makers of Pepsi came up with a chocolate drink called Devil Shake. There was also a product called PDQ that turned milk into chocolate -- it was popular in the 1960s and 1970s.
Question: Have you ever heard of Chocolate Crush put out by Crush?
Answer: The Dr. Pepper/Seven-Up Snapple Group is the maker of Orange Crush and its family member of flavors (Diet Orange, Strawberry, Cherry, Grape, Pineapple, Peach, and Grapefruit). The company does not list "Chocolate Crush" in its product menu or history. I have come across a product called Chocolate Crush by an organization in the name of Gravely Brewing Company. Apparently, it is a concocted alcoholic drink. But because the makers of this beverage are using a registered trademark-protected product to market their drink, it wouldn't surprise me if Chocolate Crush finds itself being crushed by mounds of legal paperwork.
Question: Was there a drink named B-Up?
Answer: B-Up was a lithiated lemon soda mixer produced by the Jefferson bottling Company in New Orleans, LA. 12-ounce bottles were clear green. The Jefferson Bottling Company created other products: Big Shot Root Beer, Big Shot Strawberry, Cola Hiball, Nu-Life Grape, and Dr. Up.
Question: Any info on Golden Age Strawberry Soda? I recently found an unopened 12oz, peel top can. I'm having no luck finding any info about it.
Answer: I only know a few points about Golden Age products. There were a couple of Golden Age Beverages bottlers I could find; Youngstown, Ohio and Houston, Texas. Golden Age beverages were made in the 1950s and 1960s; glass bottles and steel metal cans. My suggestion is to contact the historical society in Youngstown -- if there is one -- or the library there to see if they have any information in their archive or older business directories (or on microfiche).
Question: There was a soda my grandmother used to like in the late 1950s. I thought it was called Kula Waii and I thought it was from Canada Dry. But I've search for it and no luck. It was yellow and I think maybe it was pineapple. Had a pineapple on the label along with other tropical fruits.This was in New York. Does that sound familiar at all?
Answer: At first glance, no. But I did a search on eBay and found a vintage six-pack of green 7-ounce bottle soda called White Rock Kula Waii soda. The bottles are green with gold labels that have the name, and say "A True Fruit Pineapple Drink." The metal caps say White Rock Pineapple. There is a picture of a pineapple on the label! Go to eBay with this search phrase (I cannot paste the link here): "Vintage SIX PACK FULL 7oz WHITE ROCK KULA Waii ~ soda, pop, drink bottle." I hope it's what you're looking for! Don't wait too long, the listing is good for the next three days (at least).
Question: What other sodas did Hires (Root Beer) make?
Answer: To the best of my knowledge, Hires Root Beer, created by Philadelphia pharmacist Charles E. Hires, was the only brand of soft drink in the original company. However, the brand's contracted bottling facilities may have also produced and shipped sodas for other companies. After the Hires company was sold by the family in 1960, it underwent a number of ownership changes. Currently, the brand is owned by the folks who own Dr Pepper, but unless the market changes, don't look for Hires Root Beer to make a widespread comeback, any time soon.
Question: Was there a bottled soft drink named "Par" (containing papaya) in the late 1930s or early 1940s?
Answer: The name "Par" does not strike a note, sorry. But there was (and still is) a cocktail mixer soda called "Compare" that hit the Italian market, starting in 1932. The manufacturer calls it a "unique and incomparable flavor."
Question: Where was Perry's Pale Dry Ginger Ale made?
Answer: Perry's Dry Ginger Ale, to the best of my knowledge, was produced, along with other sodas, by the Rochelle Club Beverage Corporation of Mount Vernon, New York. The plant was at Lafayette Avenue in New Rochelle. The company was
a complete family business that began in 1924 -- sweet history! The business closed in 1966. I've seen photos of vintage bottles that were clear glass with red and white labels.
Question: Was there a soda in the Denver area in the 50's and/or 60's by the name of Pepso, or something similar?
Answer: Sorry, but after checking my resources, I have no information on that. You might try contacting Colorado's historical society or local bottling company histories in the Denver area; the library is a good place to start. I would be surprised if any soft drink company could name a product "Pepso," because it is so closed to (trademark-protected) "Pepsi," but then, anything is possible.
Question: Do you have information on the non-carbonated Chocolate Soldier?
Answer: Chocolate Soldier was a drink that was manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s by Citrus Products Company in Illinois. The drink was then made by the Monarch Beverage Company (Atlanta, Georgia; 1966-1988). I've seen pictures of the early (glass) bottles and cans of this beverage, as well as later packaging from the 1970s and 1980s. I am surprised that Chocolate Soldier disappeared, given consumers' love for chocolate everything. Yoo-hoo is still out there (produced by the Dr Pepper-Snapple group); from what I understand, the flavor is similar but different, if you know the original Chocolate Soldier taste.
Question: In the late 1980s, a carbonated drink by the name of Sarasoda was available. It was a clear, light-tasting somewhat-citrus flavored drink that I really enjoyed, but I don't believe it was on the market for very long. I don't know how wide-spread it was, but Sarasoda was available in Edmonton, Alberta at that time. Have you heard of it? Do you know who manufactured it?
Answer: To the best of my knowledge, Sarasoda (spelled that way) was available in Canada in the mid-late 1980s to mid 1990s. It was available in cans and bottles. The manufacturers called it "non-alcoholic" but it did have about 9% alcohol in it, somewhat like a wine cooler. I've never drunk Sarasoda but my research has come up with a supposed taste-alike in Rickard's Radler, a malt brewed in Canada. Here's a YouTube link to an old commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul8Tz3k9-wQ.
Question: Have you ever heard of Earl's soda?
Answer: I've seen soda bottles for Earl's; from Earl's Pop & Coffee Co., Knox, PA. The green bottles held 6 and 1/2 fluid ounces.
Question: Was there a soda in the sixties called Veep?
Answer: Yes, until around 1964, "Lemon Light" Veep was produced by Coca-Cola (in New York). The can was green, yellow and white. Bottles were clear green, with the Veep logo in white with yellow font lettering. The lemon-lime flavoring of Veep was much like Sprite, which the product later became. One of the slogans for Veep was "Great thirst fixer, wonderful mixer."
The story is kind of strange. Coca-Cola, NY, which produced Veep, was sued by the separate entity of Coca-Cola Bottling which already had Sprite on the market (the products were too similar). I don't have a specific timeline for Veep, but the name was copyrighted-protected in 1958.
Question: Do you remember a soft drink called Spook?
Answer: Spook was a drink similar to Kool-Aid; it came in small translucent bottles in the shape of ghosts and available in various flavors. The concept reminds me of the small wax bottles with flavored liquid in them, but of course, you could not chew the Spook bottles. The "ghost" bottles had wide openings and screw-on caps. From what I've learned, the drink was available in the 1970s; shelved with like items in the drink aisles of grocery stores.
Question: Did you ever hear of a soda pop called Derby Up?
Answer: I've seen pictures of carbonated drinks in typical soda cans called "Derby Cola," as well as marketing props (for CocaCola) for the Kentucky Derby that have logos printed on pop bottles. I've found various types of "UP" soda logos, but not any for "Derby Up," nor can I find any documentation. It's possible that this product was regionally produced and marketed. Perhaps one of my readers can chime in, in the comments section.
Question: Do you have any information on an Anchor soda bottle? The product was bottled by Society Beverages, Inc. in Dayton, OH in the 1950s and 1960s.
Answer: Although I've never heard of a soda called Anchor (but that doesn't mean it didn't exist), soda bottles were produced by the Anchor Hocking glass company (Lancaster, OH) in the 1950s. Some were about nine inches tall and held one pint, 8 fluid ounces -- a rather odd amount for soda bottles back then. You might try contacting the folks at daytonhistory.org; perhaps they can get you started.
Question: Back in the '50s or '60s in the New York area, I remember a cola called Giant. Have you ever heard of Giant Cola?
Answer: No, I haven't but it was fun to do a search of my resources and see so many cool pictures of old bottles-- unfortunately, not of Giant. A New York library may have documents archived (probably on microfiche if they haven't transferred them) which could yield to an advertisement (especially in one or more of NYC's daily newspapers). The newspaper themselves may have some information in their morgues (archives). New York had a number of bottlers in the 1950s/1960s; perhaps the historical society can help with your search.
Question: Have you, the author of this article, ever heard of Kula Waii by Canada Dry?
Answer: I had a question about Kula Waii recently (as noted on the Q & A of this article). I'd never heard of it, however, then -- and now -- I've done a search on eBay and found vintage bottles of White Rock Kula Waii soda. I've seen other pictures where the bottles are green with gold labels that have the name and say "A True Fruit Pineapple Drink." The metal caps on these seven-ounce bottles say White Rock Pineapple and there is a photo of a pineapple on the label. The picture I see on eBay right now is a clear bottle with a colorful label. The little information I have on this brand is that some are seven-ounce and some are quart-sized bottles of White Rock Beverages from New York; they stem from the 1870s using natural spring waters. Also, I saw an ad that noted a time period of 1957-59. Local bottling companies would come and go, but perhaps historians in New York can dig up some more information.
Question: Do you have any information on Super Coola? It was made by, or called, C & C Super Coola.
Answer: C & C Super Coola was a cola made by the Cantrell & Cochrane Brewing Company -- I found notations for several manufacturing locations. C & C Super Coola came in 12 oz. cans and bottles ... the bottles had corked-lined metal caps, as was common in the 1950s. The Super Coola line also produced various flavors such as black cherry, root beer, and orange soda -- some were sold in cans with a "cone" that sprouted from the top; it was about 4 inches tall. Pictures of flat cans I've seen have can opener holes (before pull-off tops). You can find some company history at its current location site of http://cccola.com/.
Question: I am looking for information on a 7-oz. bottle with the word "DANA" on it. I also remember it had white diamonds printed on the bottle. I loved the grape drink but it was not carbonated around the mid 1970s. They also had a red creme soda, and possibly orange. What information is there about a DANA soda?
Answer: I've seen photos and descriptions of this bottle; clear glass with a large print font letter for each white diamond; D A N A. The bottle says "Quality Beverage" and "Coca Cola Bottling Works of Cincinnati, Ohio." This indicates to me that it was a franchise bottler (but I don't have a time frame). They had the 7-ounce (7 5/8 inches tall) and a 12-ounce bottle (9 1/2 inches tall). Perhaps you can find out more by contacting the historical society in Cincy -- if they have one -- or the city's library system.
Question: Do you remember a lemon lime soda from the 50s and 60s called Veep?
Answer: Lemon Light Veep came from New York's Coca-Cola bottler, from about 1958 to 1964, I believe. Cans were white, yellow and green; bottles were clear green glass with the Veep branding image in yellow and white. The taste of Veep was much like today's Sprite (which it later evolved into). One of the slogans for Veep was "Great thirst fixer, wonderful mixer."
I don't have specifics but Coca-Cola, NY was sued by a separate Coca-Cola Bottling business that had Sprite on the market -- one of them had to go!
Question: Any chance Rondo will be coming back?
Answer: Rondo was a lightly carbonated citrus-flavored soda first produced by Cadbury-Schehweppes in 1978 and was sold primarily in cans of green and yellow with black font. There is a similar product (by the same company) called Solo; it is sold in Australia. I have not found any information about whether Rondo will be reintroduced in North America, but you can contact CS to ask about it; perhaps one of their current products has a similar taste.
Question: Was there a green lime soda from Cotton Club?
Answer: Cotton Club released a soda called Fifty-Fifty (also branded as 50-50), which was half lime and half grapefruit. They also had something that was lemon-lime, but I can't think of the name of it. I'm a Cleveland girl, where my dad owned a vending company in the 1960s and 70s. We had a lot of pop machines and I drank a lot of Tropical Delite but never cared for the lemon-lime flavoring (and still don't!). You can still buy some CC flavors but they're made by a company that bought out Cotton Club, about 20 years ago.
Question: Do you have any information on a soft drink Called Get Up? I have a 6 pack... and I can’t find any info?
Answer: As I have noted previously on this page, I have never heard of that drink, but what I've learned about "Get Up" is that it was a non-alcoholic beverage lemon soda, first released in 1934 and trademarked in February 1935 by its parent company Golden Age Ginger Ale of Youngstown, Ohio.
Question: Can I still find the O-So pop brand?
Answer: There is a company called Orca Beverage, Inc. that reproduces vintage brands; visit http://orcabeverage.com. They have O-So on the list but its availability may be limited. Contact the company for more information.
Question: I am looking for Clander's strawberry pop from the Fresno area. It may have been a strawberry water, and the spelling may be different. It was bottled sometime in the 1950s. Do you, the writer of this article, know about Clander's strawberry pop?
Answer: Could you be thinking of Calandra soda? The Calandra Bros. had a locally-owned and operated bottling company in Fresno, California that began in 1909. They had the "standard" fruit flavors, and yes, strawberry was one. Calandra came in 9-ounce and 12-ounce glass bottles.
Question: What is the origin of a product called "4%"?
Answer: 4% was a grapefruit-lemon-lime soda produced in the mid-1940s by John Scheu & Son Bottler in Detroit, Michigan. The (1946) "Perfect Soft Drink" 7-ounce bottle was clear green, with white font lettering and a red brand name logo. The John Scheu company was originally a brewery (1877-1911); I am not sure of the dateline for soft drinks. However, I have seen a picture of a somewhat clear aqua-colored bottle from 1888, or so, of a John Scheu soda product (the glass shape is typical of those from that era).
Question: I didn’t see the soda pop Buffalo Rock in your list. I believe it was bottled in Birmingham AL. I think it was later bought out by Pepsi & eventually discontinued. Ever hear of it?
Answer: You didn't miss Buffalo Rock in this article; it's not listed. Unfortunately, this piece could not possibly include every bottling company and soda product within the United States of that time period -- there were so many of them, especially independent ones in regional areas. However, you're right; Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale was first produced in Birmingham, Alabama in 1901. Called Golden Ginger Ale or Buffalo Rock, it is still produced by Pepsi under an independent bottler and available in the southeast and for purchase online. For more information, visit buffalorock.com.
© 2014 Teri Silver