The soda industry has not been much of a media darling as of late — what with our nation's ongoing battle with obesity, and the rising popularity of natural and artisanal products over mass-produced national brands.
Still, not all sodas have a bad rap. There are a great many, in fact, that invoke a true sense of nostalgia and local pride. That are the products of long-standing family businesses and are made according to authentic, time-honored recipes. We're talking, of course, about regional soda brands.
If you grew up in the New York area — and Brooklyn, specifically — the mention of the category will likely recall Manhattan Special, a coffee soda that has been produced out of its original Williamsburg plant since 1895. For some, the beverage evokes memories of Brooklyn in the summer; how the smell of coffee brewing fills the air as it escapes from the doorway the factory keeps open during those warmer months. For others, the soda is inextricably linked with the relative that loved drinking it, and how you used to enjoy it together — your grandmother, say, having a glass with you at the Thanksgiving table.
Connecticut natives might chime in with stories about Foxon Park, a nearly 100-year-old brand of soda that is the familiar accompaniment to the pies at New Haven's storied pizzerias and the legendary burgers at Louis' Lunch. Meanwhile, southward, in the Carolinas and Texas, locals have their own homegrown brands to brag about — drinks like Cheerwine and Big Red, respectively.
Similar examples appear to exist all across the country — regional treasures that have survived thanks to a grass-roots following, as well as loyalists' enduring appreciation for heritage and a taste of Americana.