Soda is our madeleine: A sip takes us right back home. We’re not talking Dr Pepper or Coca-Cola; we mean the local stuff. Like regional candy bars, these sodas are still around, though you can’t get them just anywhere. Of course, everything’s available at the click of a mouse: If you’d like to sample local fizz, look for these brands online at Galco’s Soda Pop Stop or BevMo!
1. Foxon Park (Connecticut). This tiny producer has been a Connecticut favorite for more than 80 years and, according to some Chowhounds, produces the only beverages suitable to accompany New Haven apizza. Gassosa, Iron Brew, and White Birch are just a few of its famously odd flavors. Distributed in the greater New Haven area, and limited distribution throughout the state of Connecticut.
2. Squamscot Old Fashioned Beverages (New Hampshire). This bottling works, founded in 1863, is known for its 22 flavors of handcrafted, lightly carbonated soda. Interesting bottlings include Half & Half, a light, citrusy blend, and Fruit Bowl, which tastes like a melted Popsicle. Available throughout New Hampshire and in some parts of Vermont.
3. Sun-Drop (Tennessee). Although this citrus soda is owned by candy conglomerate Cadbury, it’s only distributed in the South, so it’s still a liquid madeleine for Southern expats everywhere. Perhaps the secret is the bit of fruity pulp that clouds each bottle … and, of course, the caffeine.
4. Big Red (Texas). Bottled in Waco, Texas, since 1937, Big Red is “America’s # 1 red soda,” whatever that means; the flavor is bubblegumlike and slightly creamy. It’s ubiquitous in Texas and distributed throughout the South, with some availability in the Midwest and western states.
5. Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda (New York City). Dark and rich, this coffee soda is no Coke BlaK. Made with actual brewed espresso and pure cane sugar, the colorful bottles can be found in New York City delis and corner stores—but practically nowhere else.
6. Spring Grove Soda Pop (Minnesota). All the flavors from this tiny bottler are fantastic, but Spring Grove is known for its Strawberry Soda, which tastes sweet, syrupy, and just right. The milky-looking Lemon Sour is also worth seeking out. The brand is available within a roughly 100-mile radius of Spring Grove, Minnesota.
7. Cheerwine (North Carolina). This reddish-brown soda, a favorite of CHOW staff, tastes a bit like cherry soda mixed with Dr Pepper. It’s also made with pure cane sugar. Generally available throughout the South and in limited quantities in the Midwest.
8. Green River (Illinois). “Lime Jell-O and Sprite,” said one of our panelists about this bright green Chicago native that’s been around since Prohibition. It was once as popular in the Midwest as Coca-Cola, but appreciation for it waned about 50 years ago. After several changes in ownership and a brief hiatus that took the brand to Seattle, Green River is back home, produced by Clover Club Bottling. You can get it throughout the Chicago area and in parts of the Midwest and California.
9. Faygo (Michigan). The famous strawberry soda from Detroit comes in giant 16-ounce glass bottles. Though the original, officially known as Redpop, is the bottler’s biggest seller, Rock & Rye is also a popular choice. The company recently made a foray into the energy drink market with a brand called Rip It. Faygo can be found in most states, though coverage is spotty. The easiest way to get it if you’re not in the Detroit area is through the online store, where you can also score this sweet 313/Detroit T-shirt.
10. Jackson Hole Soda Company (Wyoming). This small bottler in Jackson, Wyoming, makes some nice soda. The High Mountain Huckleberry was a clear winner in our tasting; the company also makes sarsaparilla soda, root beer, and ginger beer. Distributed throughout the western United States.