Tuesday, 15 June 2004

Soda Nostalgia Part Two

Today I am thinking of soda again. There are a few I can remember that I left out of my last discussion on soda. One was Frostie Root Beer. I seem to remember that it was among the best root beers out there, up there with A & W. I also remember their logo as being fairly distinctive. It featured a bearded fellow with a pointed hat (not unlike Santa Claus's hat). I don't know if he had a name, although I'm guessing it was Frostie.

I also remember that there was a greater variety of brands of flavoured sodas available when I was younger. Chief among these was Crush, which is still a major brand. Most people are familiar with Orange Crush (which, among other things, lent its name to a R.E.M. song), but it has also come in such flavours as Lime Crush, Lemon Crush, Grape Crush, and Cherry Crush. Crush has actually been around for some time, since 1916. Norman Rockwell even created paintings for some of its earliest advertising.

Of course, there were also a number of lesser known, flavoured sodas out there. One I particularly remember well is Jumbo. I seem to recall that the bottles featured the picture of an elephant. Jumbo is still a product of the Double Cola Company, although it actually pre-dates Double Cola. The Double Cola Company started out in 1922 as the Good Grape Company, then became the Seminole Flavor Company in 1924. Seminole manufactured a drink called Marvel Cola, which was later renamed Jumbo Cola. By 1933 Jumbo Cola was renamed Double Cola; although, the flavoured drinks kept the Jumbo name. Jumbo still comes in a variety of flavours: grape (the Good Grape that the company was originally named for), strawberry, orange, and root beer, among others. Jumbo is hard to find around here, but still available.

I also remember Vess sodas quite well. Vess came in a wide variety of flavours, cola, grape, root beer, orange among them. I remember places around here selling Vess well into the Eighties. I also remember that their bottles were unique for sodas in that one could actually twist the lid off (just like a bottle of beer)!

Nesbitt's is another flavoured soda company I remember. And like the other companies, it came in a variety of flavours: orange, grape, root beer, strawberry, and creme soda. Nesbitt's seemed to have disappeared from store shelves around here in the late Seventies, although I have heard that it still around.

A more famous flavoured soda company is Shasta. One thing I remember about Shasta (in fact, it's still true) is that it came in a ton of flavours (over 40 from what I have read). Besides the traditional cola, root beer, orange, and grape, they also make black cherry, creme soda, ginger ale, Dr. Shasta (their take on Dr. Pepper), and even more. I also remember a commercial they must have done when I was about six. It was a take off on Westerns with a character named "the Lone Orange."

Of course, Nehi is probably the second most famous flavoured soda line besides Crush. Indeed, it was imortalised on M*A*S*H, on which Grape Nehi was Radar's favourite drink. Well before my time Nehi's advertising featured a number of well known celebrities: Bob Hope, Joan Crawford (who would later hawk *gasp* Pepsi...), Hedy Lamarr, and Bing Crosby. Nehi came in a variety of flavours, grape, orange, root beer, and peach.

Nehi is a product of Royal Crown Cola Company, whose best known product is Royal Crown Cola--now abbreviated RC. The Royal Crown Cola Company's history goes back to 1905. Initially they manufactured various flavoured sodas under the name Royal Crown and a cola under the name Chero-Cola. Chero-Cola aroused the ire of the Coca-Cola Company, who sued for trademark infringement. The two companies were in and out of courtrooms until Royal Crown finally won in 1944. In the meantime, the name of their cola product had been changed to Royal Crown, later abbreviated to RC.

Like Nehi, celebrities often appeared in Royal Crown ads. Ronald Reagan, Joan Bennett, Linda Darnell, Paulette Goddard, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Diana Lynn, and Gene Tierney all sold Royal Crown Cola at one time or another. Royal Crown did not simply depend upon celebrities, however, as they also made a few innovations in the soda business. They may well have been the first soda company to sell their product nationwide in cans (all the way back in 1954!). They also introduced the first diet cola--Diet Rite in 1961.

Needless to say, I remember RC Cola quite well, In fact, the Yankees reading this may not be aware of this, but one should properly drink an RC Cola while eating a Moonpie. To this day Coca-Cola is my favourite cola, but either RC or Double Cola would be my second favourite.

It's unfortunate, but many of these flavoured sodas are either no longer available or do not have the distribution they once had. That's too bad, as many of them taste better than many of the generic and store brands available today. Crush, Nehi, and Shasta are still around, but there are times I would like to have Nesbitts again...

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