There Is No Cat

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Object Lesson

Regional sodas are something of a passion of mine. Whenever I travel, I make a point of trying to go to a grocery store to see what kind of sodas they have that we can't get at home. I'm almost always rewarded with something interesting. It seems I'm not the only person who's noticed this persistence of regionalism in the soda pop business; The New York Times has a great article about the phenomenon, written by Paul Lukas, who I expect is the same Paul Lukas who published the zine Beer Frame for so many years on the topic of inconspicuous consumption. This topic seems right up his alley, and he does a decent job of covering it.

There's a little sidebar with the article pointing to dealers where you can purchase most of the sodas mentioned in the article. For Valentine's Day a few years ago, Laura bought me a small stash of Vernors and Blenheim in glass bottles from Pop the Soda Shop in Arizona, which is mentioned. The service was great, but the shipping for glass bottles of soda is a bit steep. I tend to prefer getting my Vernors in quantity in my car, although I've been known to stick a few six packs in my check-in luggage when flying. I'm not sure how well that would play in a post 9/11 era, though, so I don't recommend it. And fortunately for me, a friend turned me on to a soda distributor in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a short two-hour drive away, that carries cases of Vernors, so I don't have to wait until my next trip to Michigan or Ohio. Allentown is only a day trip, whereas Ohio requires a weekend. :-)

Maybe it's a product of the fact that I grew up in Detroit. Lukas mentions that to this day, it's a hotbed of regional sodas, with Faygo and Towne Club also maintaining a market. When I was growing up, Towne Club was only sold in their own distributorships, so my grandfather used to take us to the one a few miles from their house and let us fill up a case or two with bottles of our favorite sodas. I loved their cream soda.

So what's your favorite oddball soda?

Posted at 7:22 AM

Comments

Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

I think that regional potato chip brands would be an excellent follow up article for Lukas to write. Remember the "potato chip of the month" club I signed you up for a couple of years ago? Benefit of regional potato chips over regional sodas (esp. ones in glass bottles): potato chips are much, much cheaper to ship!

Posted by Laura at 7:36 AM, July 23, 2003 [Link]

Heh, yeah, as soon as I posted this, I was thinking of that club and how that would be a good article to write. :-)

Posted by ralph at 10:08 AM, July 23, 2003 [Link]

Hey, do you remember that horrible Diet Chocolate Cream soda from Towne Club? One that the article missed is Cherry Lemon Sun Drop. Pat brought me some from Charlotte. Cheerwine is okay, but Sun Drop is better.

Posted by lilbro at 9:53 PM, July 23, 2003 [Link]

Mmmm... Stewart's... www.bevnet.com/reviews/stewarts/

Posted by Mike at 6:02 PM, July 24, 2003 [Link]

Stewart's is good stuff. We're lucky enough to live in New Jersey, where there are a ton of old-fashioned drive-up Stewarts' root beer stands. It's probably six months since we've been to one, but heck, the root beer's available in the stores here too.

Posted by ralph at 6:23 PM, July 24, 2003 [Link]

i'm not a huge soda drinker, but i'll admit to having a soft spot for cream soda. last time i was at jungle jim's outside cincinnati (www.junglejims.com/) i snagged a couple of bottles of moxie cream soda. i was sold on the fact that it's made with cane sugar (rather than the dreaded high fructose glop), then discovered that it tastes great. i don't know how the current purveyors are related to the original purveyors of the moxie brand (since 1884), but check out this and other craft-type sodas at www.realsoda.com.

and on the regional potato chip front, i'm seeing my favorite chip, zapps (from louisiana), available in more and more stores here in columbus. thou shalt try the jalapeno variety and laissez les bon temps roulez! (1-800-HOT-CHIP or www.zapps.com)

Posted by shirley at 12:56 AM, July 27, 2003 [Link]

oh, and although i haven't been following him closely of late, it seems that beer frame is still being published. at www.core77.com/inconspicuous/, paul refers to issue #10 as the "current" issue. (i gotta go rooting around in my zine stacks to see which ones i'm missing...)

Posted by shirley at 1:12 AM, July 27, 2003 [Link]

I don't know if Beer Frame is still being published. Issue number 10 came out a good two or three years ago, as I recall. I would go find mine, but I packed it in a box and moved it to the storage area last weekend. Of course, in Zineland, an interval of two or three years between issues isn't unusual.... :-) I also noticed that the "current" review on Core 77 is from October 2001, so it doesn't seem like that's being updated any more, either. It would be a shame if Paul isn't doing the Inconspicuous Consumption® thing any more.

(Speaking of Beer Frame, writing this post got me to pull out the CD he released a few years ago of some of his favorite bands doing songs about products. There's some great music on there. John Darnielle sounds positively insane singing about how the main benefit of living a good life is that you'll get Golden Boy Peanuts when you're dead.)

I think I had some Zapps potato chips via the chip of the month club Laura mentioned. Not bad. Actually, one of the chips I liked best from that club is from your neck of the woods, Ballreich's, which I think comes from Toledo. And then there's my all time favorite, Better Made from Detroit, which is still independent and still going strong.

Posted by ralph at 7:42 AM, July 27, 2003 [Link]

I drove to Allentown and bought 3 cases of Vernor's. I had no idea where to get it, but I was armed with a list of beverage outlets that sold Moxie, and I figured one of them would have Vernor's. So I went to two of the outlets on the list and hit paydirt at the second one: Liberty Bell Beverages. Kelly and I also bought a sixpack of Moxie. That will probably last much longer than the Vernor's.

Posted by lilbro at 12:09 PM, July 27, 2003 [Link]

You should have asked. I could have told you that Liberty Bell was the place to get Vernors in Allentown, and even given you directions. A friend of mine who lives there and who grew up in Buffalo as a Vernors drinker turned me on to the place this spring. We stopped there on the way home from our honeymoon in the Poconos and picked up three cases.

I doubt the Moxie will last longer than the Vernors. You'll be dumping it down the drain after your first or second sip. :-)

Posted by ralph at 1:25 PM, July 27, 2003 [Link]

Well I tried to call you twice, but you weren't home. I figured that I could figure it out, and I did. The Moxie will probably sit in a corner except when I feel like torturing myself. That's why I think it will last much longer than the Vernor's.

Posted by lilbro at 8:03 PM, July 27, 2003 [Link]

I too loved to browse the stores when I traveled the states and see what sodas were available in GLASS BOTTLES. I am a snob about glass. I purchased an old Coke machine and began to search for brands to fill it. Five weeks later and one news article I was in the bottled soda business. I am renovating a warehouse because swarms of people have descended on me after one newspaper article. If you are in Central Illinois, you now have a source to fill your machine or enjoy one of the 130 soda varieties we offer. We are at 118 South Main Street Homer Illinois. Funny how searching for soda leads to this.

Posted by Ray at 10:19 AM, September 17, 2003 [Link]

I can't say I was particularly fond of any of the flavors (all pretty standard, as I recall), but there was a brand of soda called Costa Sodas, available in the mid-Hudson Valley region of New York State while I was growing up (70s and 80s). Since my name is Costa, I got a kick out of seeing those bottles.

Posted by CT at 4:39 PM, January 13, 2004 [Link]

I remember buying Towne Club at a warehouse type place. I was talking to my parents about it a few years back and they looked at me like I was nuts. We drank Faygo alot Grape was my favorite flavor and I absolutely hated Rock ' Rye. I also like Orange Crush although I don't know if that is regional or not and I believe you can still find it on some store shelves in glass bottles. Oh what a wonderful day it would be if pop were sold in glass bottles again.

Posted by Sherry at 2:45 AM, June 11, 2004 [Link]

I have been looking for towne club for a long time. Is it still being produced and sold?

Posted by lisa green at 7:50 PM, July 12, 2004 [Link]

I am looking for a place to purchase pepsi in glass bottles, and Vernors soda. I thought I heard of a soda place in either PA., or somewhere near there. I'd appreciate any help!

Thanks

Posted by Sue at 11:32 PM, July 30, 2004 [Link]

I remember going to the towne club store in my town and getting a couple of cases a week for the machine where i was working. I loved that pop. still have a case of bottles in the old wooden crate they had

Posted by dan at 9:09 PM, June 27, 2005 [Link]

Just today I was thinking of Towne Club Soda's. I used to love going to that store with my mom when I was little and picking the unusual flavors other companies did not have. Cream soda was the best. So I thought I would look towne club up on the net and found this site. Sure do wish they would create those drinks again. Being a Detroit native myself, I was also hooked on Vernors. I have ived in North Carolina for the last 17 years and used to have my brother bring vernors whenever he came for a visit which was not often enough. So I started heckling my local grocers and now we get vernors here!! Would love to know if Towne Club could still be purchased somewhere.

Posted by sandy at 9:24 PM, February 16, 2006 [Link]

Another Towne Club fan here... i do think they still exist in Detroit. For those in LA, the Beverage Warehouse sells Faygo and Vernors. I plan to start buying that instead of Coke or Pepsi products. I am not a big soda drinker, so i guess that is an area that i can splurge a little.

My favorite Towne Club soda as a kid was Sasparilla... and i liked pineapple, too. I recall being on a plane, and asking the stewardess for Vernors. I might just has well have asked for Martian Pee Water for the reaction i got... someone else on the plane just laughed, and informed her it was ginger ale. Ahh the memories... and that's why we drink faygo.

Posted by John Ahrens at 6:34 PM, March 24, 2006 [Link]

After a quick googling, i came across this website:

www.intrastatedistributors.com/

they sell Towne Club, for those interested... in glass bottles! How cool is that. Here in LA we have a soda called Izze, which i highly recommend, it is also distributed thru the above company.

peace

Posted by John Ahrens at 6:48 PM, March 24, 2006 [Link]

Hi all I am in process of planing a resturant It will be a deli atmosphere with subs dogs and burgers mainly. I woulod love to sell soda in glass bottles.I am near rochester ny does anyone have any sugestions on what local sodas are available in glass if any? their are a few in the grocery stores like stwearts and ibc But can these be bought at more reasonable prices? I am working on this being a very nastalgic place themned in 30's to 40's we cant be having plasic bottles lol they suck! Any coments apreciated and i like this forum:)

Posted by john guiles at 8:09 PM, September 3, 2007 [Link]

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