The History:

While many drinks gain market share through merit and word of mouth, Sprite’s rise to fame is more a story of aggressive marketing and pushiness on the part of its parent company, Coca-Cola. Debuting in the early 1960’s, Sprite was unveiled in the United States to compete against the mainstay lemon-lime drink, 7up.

As Coca-Cola refined its distribution system and gained influence, it used that influence to pressure bottlers to push Sprite rather than 7up. The plan worked beautifully, and in conjunction with very aggressive marketing campaigns that lasted throughout the late 1980’s and the 1990’s, Sprite secured its position as the lemon-lime drink of choice for many regions.

Taste Test:

We tried a Sprite the way the rest of America does – straight from a 20oz bottle.

What can we say? It’s Sprite and the taste is classic. It’s got the citrus taste and the carbonated kick that has come to be expected.

As it relates to other lemon-lime drinks, Sprite has a much crisper taste than other brands, namely 7up. It’s not quite as sweet as 7up. There is a little bit of an artificial taste which 7up doesn’t have.

The colder you can drink it, the better. Also, while we didn’t do it for this review, Sprite mixes really well with other flavors, adding some versatility to the drink that others don’t have.

We rate Sprite 4 out of 5 on our Flat to Fizzy scale!

Fun Stuff:

– Sprite is so ubiquitous that when people want a lemon-lime soda, they often ask for a “sprite” even if the establishment only carries a 7up or other variant.

– It’s interesting to note that many dentists and orthodontists recommend “Sprite” (meaning any lemon-lime soda) for people with certain kinds of braces and tooth implants because it doesn’t have the discoloration/staining potential for teeth that other drinks do.

– As with many other brand-name soft drinks, several variations exist, including Sprite Remix and Sprite Zero.

– Sprite is often given to people with an upset stomach, usually served warm or flat.

RC Cola

The History:

In 1905, a pharmacist named Claude Hatcher began crafting soft drinks in his basement lab below a grocery store. His first major breakthrough was Chero-Cola, followed by the “Royal Crown” line of beverages — then including ginger ale, strawberry, and root beer flavors.

By the end of the 30’s, the “Royal Crown” line had been rebranded as the Nehi family of drinks, and Chero-Cola was renamed to Royal Crown. Hatcher named his company Chero-Cola after his original cola, then later renamed to Nehi Corporation in light of the success of the Nehi brand. As if that wasn’t confusing enough, the company would later rename itself again to The Royal Crown Company following sagging Nehi sales and the growing popularity of Royal Crown cola in the 40’s and 50’s.

Royal Crown was thought of as “the working man’s” cola (particularly in the south, where it was commonly paired with a Moon Pie), enjoying widespread popularity through the 1950’s. Late in that decade, Chero-Cola introduced the world’s first diet cola, “Diet Rite”, which became the 4th most popular cola in America within two years of its debut.

In recent years, Royal Crown Cola’s popularity has waned in the face of growing international competition. The Royal Crown brand changed hads a number of times before ultimately finding a home with Cadbury Schweppes as part of the Dr. Pepper/Seven Up family. Despite such adversity, Royal Crown still soldiers on as RC Cola.

Taste Test:

We tried RC Cola from a 2-liter bottle, served over ice. The cola has a less pronounced aroma than Coca-Cola, with a slightly syrupy scent. Based on smell alone, we were braced for that cheap, cloying off-brand flavor, but were surprised by the light, almost crisp flavor of the cola. RC Cola offered more acidic “bite” than Coke, but without the sugar rush of Pepsi — in fact, the aftertaste was almost bitter. RC Cola is a bit too harsh to really enjoy on it’s own, but would probably go great with food; it’s less sweet and more mellow than most colas, and less likely to distract from other flavors.


The History of Pepsi

Pepsi started out as “Brad’s Drink,” made in a pharmacy in North Carolina in the late 1800’s (a few years after Coca-Cola). It contained pepsin, probably the source of the name. It was fairly successful, but almost went bankrupt during the first world war and the Great Depression.

One of the secrets of Pepsi’s success was going after markets that Coca-Cola ignored, particularly the African-Americans.

Coca-Cola had a few chances the buy it over the years and declined.


There are tons of variations. Our favorites include Wild Cherry Pepsi, Pepsi Green, Pepsi Natural, and the variation that uses yogurt (Pepsi White).

Taste Test

I’m sure a lot of people that visit are going to check to see if we gave Coke a higher rating than Pepsi … it’s the age-old question. Sorry to disappoint, but we rated them both highly.

We rate Pepsi 5 out of 5 on our Flat to Fizzy scale!


Fun Stuff:

Recently, Pepsi achieved internet fame and some amount of ridicule when a collection of “marketing documents” leaked onto the internet. The document, among other things, showed different versions of the “Pepsi smile” and was generally regarded as a waste of stockholder money and the epitome of marketing aloofness.

One of our favorite Pepsi slogans is the 1950’s one: “More Bounce to the Ounce!”

Dr. Pepper

The History:

Dr Pepper has been around for over a century, though it was quietly sold for a couple decades previous, it stormed onto the scene with a flair at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Born and bred in Waco, Texas by a German pharmacist, Dr Pepper was only sold in a small handful of small-town stores, most notably Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store which was a historic locale in Waco.

The inventor, a man named Charles Alderton, named the drink after a neighbor that he had in Virginia named Dr. Charles Pepper. It’s rumored that Alderton was involved with Pepper’s daughter.

It’s hard to keep track of who owns the rights to Dr Pepper. After hitting on some financial troubles in the 1980’s, the company was briefly associated with Coca-Cola before merging with 7up. After countless legalities, Dr Pepper is again associated with Coca-Cola, and distribution is sometimes associated with PepsiCo.

Dr Pepper has had such an influence in the south that there’s actually a Dr Pepper museum still in Waco. The museum is quite large, and offers tons of merchandise and unique exhibits.

Ever been to the northeast part of the United States. Don’t even bother asking for a Dr Pepper up there – they’re unlikely to even know what it is. Dr Pepper even today has a somewhat limited distribution, though the eastern part of the United States and the south sells it in spades.

Taste Test:

23 flavors is a lot to cram into a can. It’s sweet and has a little bit of that burn that some sodas have. The smell tingles. It’s definitely unique.

Not as refreshing as other sodas. It’s a very distinctive taste, and one that’s been carefully formulated, but it won’t appeal to everybody. Either you like it or you don’t, and it’s probably a little bit of an aquired taste.

Honestly, growing up in Texas, I’ve always been a fan. Objectively though it just doesn’t quite have that mass-appeal taste that other quality sodas have.


History and Origin

Crush, quite appropriately, was invented in California. Around the time of the first World War, Clayton J. Powel invented a very refreshing orange soda (so yes, the original flavor of Crush WAS orange).

Dr. Pepper acquired it, and it’s one of the cash-cow brands of the Dr. Pepper company.


Orange, grape, and cream soda flavors can be found and bought everywhere. Other flavors are not so easy to find, though I’ve seen Crush Strawberry, Crush Lime, and Crush Pineapple randomly in the northern part of the US. Other varieties include a peach flavor, a chocolate flavor, a lemon flavor, cherry, apple, and even a birch beer flavor for our Canadian friends.

Crush (particularly Orange Crush) appears with other Dr. Pepper brands as jelly beans, frozen drinks, candy, freeze pops, t-shirts, and a variety of other products.


Crush (and other brands of Orange Soda) surged in popularity in the early 90’s when a character on the popular Nickelodeon show Kenan and Kel was obsessed with orange soda.

Coca Cola

The History of Coca-Cola

The drink was originally created by the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company in Georgia in the late 1800’s. It was originally sold as a kind of medicine that was supposed to cure all kinds of ailments (including impotence) and yes, it originally had trace amounts of cocaine in it.

The name comes from the Coca leaf (nowadays they take the cocaine OUT before they use it), and Kola nuts (which contain mega amounts of caffeine). The rest of the formula is literally in a vault in Atlanta, and the myth of only two executives knowing the formula at any given time is essentially true.

Coke started being canned in the 1950’s, and its popularity soared all over the country and eventually the world.


Where to begin? There are more than listed, but variations of Coca-Cola include Diet, Caffeine Free, Vanilla, Cherry, Coke Zero, etc.

The taste of Coke leads itself well to experimentation … for instance, when Vanilla Coke disappeared for awhile, many of us took to making our own. Try it with orange extract, grape juice, lemon, lime, even banana extract. Add other things to liven it up.

Taste Test

Like most of the world, we’ve tasted Coca-Cola in a variety of different ways. Obviously certain tastes grow on you, but for our taste test we were as objective as possible … and still rated it 5 out of 5. It’s a mainstay for a reason: coke just tastes GOOD.


History and Culture

Bawls is in many ways the perfect example of what an energy drink should be. It gets kick from guarana and has a high amount of caffeine, as well as a sleek bottle design (complete with little grips so that you can hang on to it better no matter what you’re doing) and an edgy name. It was quite ahead of the curve, being introduced in the 90’s before energy drinks really took hold in the US. There’s a lot of variety, and the named don’t keep you guessing as to what kind of flavor you’ll get (unlike Monster).

Marketing is geared toward participants in “extreme” and non-traditional athletics as well as young adults in urban areas.


The Cherry flavor is the most common and easiest to find. There’s a sweeter version called Bawls EXXTRA that seems to be the only version of the drink that some stores carry (the caffeine content is similar to other energy drinks). A root beer version was available at one point but I’ve never found it nor tried it.

If you look around enough you’ll find Bawls Mints, which I have to say are not very good at all. To each his own though.

In some paintball complexes there’s a bottle variation called “PaintBAWLS.”


Going out of Business?

Rumors abound about Bawls going out of business, spurred on by the lack of product in stores and the huge clearance sales on Bawls merchandise. At this point all we’re certain about is yes. Bawls was in trouble and there’s been a significant change in management and ownership. Accoding to buzz online, they’ve got quite a few unpaid bills out there … but like many fans have said, the company had better make a recovery because they “just can’t live without their bawls.”


The History:

People have been enjoying Barq’s for over a century. Barq’s root beer started the way any good root beer starts, with a bunch of brothers swishing and gassing around ingredients in a basement. They simply called it “Barq’s” because of the legal gray area of calling anything “root beer”, which was apparently trademarked.

Many decades later, now 70 years old, Barq’s root beer was purchased by outsiders and they began marketing the drink heavily. Apparently the business deal that gave control of Barq’s to these outsiders wasn’t solid enough, and more legal complications arose. Things got to the point where different arms of the company were using slightly different ingredients.

Always eager to bring some structure to potentially profitable drinks, the Coca Cola company stepped in and acquired Barq’s. Now streamlined, widely available, and consistently marketed, Barq’s has secured its place in the marketplace.

Taste Test:

I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of one of the glass bottles that seem to be popping back up all over the state. While I was tempted to drink it straight from the bottle, there’s only one right way to drink root beer, and that’s in a giant foamy mug that’s been chilled before pouring.

It’s certainly dark and silky. People have said that Barq’s doesn’t quite get the foamy head that other brands get, and I do see a little of that.

Upon taste, I notice it’s a little sweeter than many root beers. It’s got a little bit of kick but not as much as you’d expect given some of the advertisements. You can feel the caffeine a little bit. I like the caffeine, even though the amount of caffeine Barq’s has is lower than most sodas.

If you’re looking to get hooked on a good root beer that’s commonly available, you can’t go wrong with Barq’s.
We rate Barq’s 4 out of 5 on our Flat to Fizzy scale!

Fun Stuff:

– There’s also a Diet Barq’s, if you’re a wuss.

– There’s a variation called Barq’s Floatz, which is gradually becoming easier to find and comes in a nice glass bottle. The idea is that it tastes like a root beer float. To me it tastes like root beer with three times the sugar and some cream soda swirled in. I think I jumped about three feet in the air, hit my head, and fell asleep after drinking it. I’d like to do that more often, I like it.

– Marketing slogans include “Drink Barq’s. It’s good.”, “Barq’s Got Sparks”, “Barq’s has bite!”, and the infamous “Barq’s root beer jingle” where the company had supposedly “spent all its money on music and couldn’t afford to buy lyrics”.

– Around the time Coca-Cola purchased it, Barq’s advertised heavily in comic books where it started to gain following among a generation smitten with the high caffeine content of modern drinks.

– Barq’s is commonly available, appearing in supermarkets everywhere as well as fast-food chains.


The History:

The year is 1919. Deep in the heart of California, a parade is taking off for a group of celebrated World War I veterans located in the state. Set up along the parade route is a modest little stand run by a man named Roy Allen. Many people stopped by this stand, and these people were the first to taste what later became A&W Root Beer.

The drink was a smashing success, so much so that Allen was able to open up a few more stands. Among these stands was what was thought to be the first drive-in diner. Allen took on a partner named Frank Wright, and the combination of their initials formed the name: A&W Root Beer.

A franchise program soon developed and soon, A&W restaurants were peppered all over the landscape of the country. Over time, the soda took off more than the restaurants did, and A&W became available in grocery stores as well.

In the mid-nineties, following a consolidation pattern seen in the industry, A&W was acquired by the Dr Pepper/7up family. A&W is also associated with Yum! Brands, which is deeply rooted with PepsiCo.

Even today, many A&W restaurant locations still operate, and A&W has secured itself as a market leader in root beer.


The History:

7up was formulated deep in the heart of St. Louis in the mid 1920’s. Very soon after launch, the United States fell into the Great Depression, though we can hardly blame 7up for that (Sprite proponents would probably like to). In fact, 7up probably did more to enhance the spirits of the country than most other sodas, since the original formula contained lithium citrate, which was a well-known mood-stabilizing drug. By having this ingredient, 7up wasn’t just consumed for pleasure but was actually prescribed by many physicians of the day and often marketed as a health drink.

The forumla has been revamped many times, and after World War II the lithium citrate ingredient was removed.

Later on in the 20th century, Coca-Cola came along with their product Sprite and literally started muscling 7up out of the marketplace by closing off distribution channels. 7up fought back fiercely with litigation (which they lost) and a creative marketing campaign, “Make 7 Up Yours.”

The source of the name “7up” is frought with myth and urban legend. Stories ranging from cattle-brands to pH levels to ingredients to its common use as a hangover cure. The most likely scenario is that it was named based on the seven ingredients that it originally had, or perhaps the card game of the same name.

Taste Test:

To stay on a level playing field with Sprite, our 7up taste test was done straight from a 20oz bottle obtained from a vending machine.

We love lemon-lime sodas, so Making 7 Up Ours is always a pleasure.

It’s noticably sweeter than Sprite. It doesn’t have quite the “bite” that sprite does. It’s a bit more subdued. Very refreshing.

7up gets kudos for using “all natural ingredients.” It may or may not be a deciding factor but 7up does taste “cleaner” than Sprite. Some say that Sprite can leave a “chemical-like” aftertaste.