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Hard-to-Find Soda Pop: My Favorite Soft and Not-So-Soft Drinks

Updated on February 3, 2016
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Even a health nut needs to have some sugary fun once in a while. I try to eat healthy, and if you want healthy recipes, you can head over to my Hubs that include gluten-free recipes and healthy home-cooked meals. If you’re thirsting for something sweet, however, stick around and explore the wonderful world of soda pop. This world reaches beyond nationally recognized brands like Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. Many of my favorite soft drinks aren’t available at retail stores in all 50 states, but the miracle of the internet provides the opportunity for people everywhere to enjoy these delectable flavors. Let’s begin with the best ginger ale in the world.

Vernor's Ginger Ale at the Checkout Counter

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Vernor’s

If you haven’t heard of Vernor’s, you are definitely not from Michigan. Actually, I’m not from Michigan either, but my favorite uncle is. He’s the one who introduced me to this divine soft drink, and if you’ve ever had a chance to taste the oldest surviving brand of ginger ale, you know exactly why he’s my favorite uncle.

The origins of Vernor’s lie shrouded layers of company history and local legend. Frankly, I’m more concerned with flavor. So I’ll let the historians argue about the invention of the drink while I finish this Hub and then relax with my Boston cooler in hand.

Is it possible that some of my readers may not know what a Boston cooler is? It may be the one soft drink that is tastier than Vernor’s because it’s made with Vernor’s and vanilla ice cream. A true Boston cooler is blended into a cool, creamy, refreshing treat. Michiganders who argue that the drink should be called a “Detroit cooler” can relax. The Boston cooler is named after Boston Street in Detroit where the drink was first invented.

Nehi Flavors

This list of Nehi flavors from Wikipedia seems fairly all-encompassing (just don't try to find that last one at your local drugstore).

  • Dr. Nehi
  • Nehi Blue Raspberry
  • Nehi Chocolate
  • Nehi Root Beer
  • Nehi Berks County Root Beer
  • Nehi Lemonade
  • Nehi Wild Berry
  • Nehi Grape
  • Nehi Peach
  • Nehi Strawberry
  • Nehi Orange
  • Nehi Berry
  • Nehi Blue Ice Cream
  • Nehi Ginger Ale
  • Nehi Fruit Punch
  • Nehi Blueberry
  • Nehi Watermelon
  • Nehi Lime-lemon
  • Nehi Diet Lime
  • Nehi Cherry
  • Nehi Blue Cream
  • Nehi Red
  • Nehi Pineapple
  • Nehi Birch Beer
  • Nehi Black Cherry
  • Nehi Bounce ("almond-flavored cola")
  • Nehi Cola
  • Nehi Cream Soda
  • Nehi Grape Punch
  • Nehi Grapefruit
  • Nehi Lemon
  • Nehi Lemon Sour
  • Nehi Luau
  • Nehi Orange-Ade
  • Nehi Sangria
  • Nehi Sarsaparilla
  • Nehi Sparkling Water
  • Nehi Monkey
  • Nehi Upper 10 (with lithium)

Nehi

The Nehi brand of flavored sodas was first introduced in 1924. Most Americans know the Nehi Corporation as the Royal Crown Company of RC Cola fame. In 2008, the brand was purchased by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. That, however, is just a bunch of useless information to people like myself who are interested in how soda pop tastes. Nehi, specifically peach Nehi, is akin to the nectar of the gods. Strawberry and grape Nehi are pretty good too, but any boy scout in the Kansas City area can tell you that the best Nehi is peach Nehi poured over a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream to create a peach Nehi float.

Lovers of exotic flavors aren’t likely to stop at peach Nehi, however. My friend and fellow poet Gary Blakenship used to frequently reward other poets in the House of 30 on Blueline Poetry Forum with a refreshing virtual drink from his Nehi locker. I’ve seen him pull some pretty wild flavors out of that cooler, but the actual flavor list rivals most things my creative friend has been able to imagine.

Jolly Rancher Soda

Unlike Vernor’s or Nehi, Jolly Rancher soda does not, to my knowledge, have a cult following. In fact, I didn’t know it existed until I was shopping for something completely unrelated at Big Lots. It dawned on me that I might be able to pick up some soda pop there for our gathering with friends the next day, so I wander through their small food section. My wife happens to enjoy crème soda, and a few friends of ours enjoy caffeine-free fruity drinks. I picked up a variety of 1-liter bottles and ended up falling in love with the Jolly Rancher flavors.

This soda pop tastes exactly like Jolly Ranchers, so it can be a bit cloying. I serve it over plenty of ice to keep it cold and delicious. I also discovered that it tastes wonderful as a mixer for inexpensive whiskey. We’ve even given names to these drinks. Watermelon Jolly Rancher soda with Black Velvet is watermelon whiskey, and a green hornet is a mixed drink made with green apple Jolly Rancher soda and Black Velvet.

Teetotalers need not despair. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy Jolly Rancher soda pop. The cherry flavor poured over a full glass of ice can be easily turned into a limeade. Simply squeeze a half lime into the drink and add a bendy straw for a cherry limeade worthy of summertime fun in the sun or by the pool.

Fun Soda Pop Finds at Big Lots

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Fun with Jolly Rancher Pop

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Other Unique Soda Pop

While I seriously doubt that any soda pop actually qualifies as “healthy,” you can find several unique soda pop options in your local health-food store. I found something called Dry Soda in the health market of the grocery store recently. These all-natural drinks include very few ingredients, and the line includes flavors like lavender, juniper berry and rhubarb. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I plan on tasting the lavender soon.

Soda for the Health Nut?

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What's your favorite hard-to-find soda pop?

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    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I regard soda as bad for you in all forms. Even diet. Nevertheless, it does invoke nostalgia for simpler times when I did not know what corn fructose was.

    • Marie Gail profile image
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      Marie Gail Stratford 9 months ago from Olathe, KS

      Or simpler times when sodas were made with pure-cane sugar instead of corn syrup. Happily, some of these older forms have made a comeback recently, but sugar is still sugar. I agree, soda isn't a particularly healthy indulgence, but the nostalgia certainly brings a smile to my own face.

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