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October 05, 2004



First, any post with the word "autochthonous" is all right by me. What a great word!

Second, I have had chinotto from San Pellegrino. I tried to find out what it was made from and the store owners never could tell me.

Chicago used to have a great soda factory called Lasser's here. They made maple syrup soda and all kinds of great weird flavors in squat little bottles. They are alas, no more, having bit the dust about 20 years ago.

Green River, a scary green supersweet soda with a sour kick is also a Chicago favorite that is making inroads nationally. The color is something to behold. An vanilla ice cream float made with Green River is a sight to see with pale green foam and green, green, green soda.

They make a diet version now, which is just plain wrong.


New England's secret local soda is Moxie, flavored with gentian root. I like the stuff occasionally, but most people find the taste peculiar at best. You can also get it in a diet formulation, which tastes just fine to me, but offends purists. I also find that Moxie is the soda most likely to spontaneously burst its can in extreme heat or cold, which is a little disturbing. It is also the only soft drink I know of which has its own annual two-day festival (Maine, in the summer).

Another locally-available oddity, which I believe is native to New York City, is Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda, a very sweet pale-green carbonated beverage flavored with celery seed and celery extract. It tastes just as awful as you'd think, but there are those who love it. I put some out once at a party, as a sort of joke, but a small group of people grabbed the stuff, drank it with evident pleasure, and joyfully reminisced about other events which were graced with this celery drink.

Green River soda has a surprisingly wide, though sparse, distribution. I've encountered it in a small movie theater in Portland, Oregon (alas, out of business these many years), and Polly Ann's ice cream in San Francisco has carried it for ages. I don't know any other place in either city that you can get it, though. And I've never actually tried it.


Great stories! Thanks for sharing them here. I didn't know there were so many regional sodas out there, but it makes perfect sense. I'm not sure I'd like the celry one, I would try anything once though, but the Green River vanilla float sound intriguing.


god, I *love* Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda. The sweet-savory paradox makes my tongue so happy, and it goes great with chopped liver on rye or a corned beef sandwich. You can occasionally find it in Boston in New York-style or Jewish establishments; I usually shriek with glee when I spot it, which makes people edge away slowly. Most people do seem to hate it, and sometimes I wonder if the only ones who do like it are either of Jewish heritage or have done time in NYC.

I would love to try a Green River float. I'll look for some next week when I'm in Chicago. Here in Boston we used to have a late-night dive (Deli-Haus RIP) that made a Guinness float with either vanilla or coffee ice cream -- coffee was best, highlighting rather than masking the deep brown flavors of the beer. Most people hated those too. :-)


In the Carolinas, Cheerwine is the local favorite. It's a cherry-flavored soda that got its start in the early 1900s. It's a rich burgundy color, thus inspiring the "wine" name.

I got a kick out of reading your bit about chinotto, since my boyfriend (from Bologna originally) was just mentioning it recently.


This was most certianly the best information on Chinotto I could find on the web! I recently purchased a small case of San Pelligrino Chinotto from Wegman's and none of us could figure out what the flavor was!
PS- I had to look in a dictionary for autochthonous. Awesome.


jenny, happy to be of help and enjoy the Chinotto!


Where can I purchase chinotto in chicago? Whole foods on ashland does not have it, trader joes on lincoln does not have it. Please help, I'm addicted.

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