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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Fentimans Brewed Soda

Beverages are the fastest-growing category in specialty foods; in the carbonated category, to take just one segment, sales increased almost 12% in 2007 over the prior year and the store shelves are piled high. There are some great 21st century sodas, spanning the range from sparkling juice like Fizzy Lizzy, green tea like Steaz, “adult” sodas with reduced sugar like GuS and Dry Soda, and flavored club soda energy drinks like Hiball.

One hundred years ago, your options for a soda were much more limited. You’d go to the soda fountain at the local pharmacy for a cola, ginger ale, root beer or other flavor. The counter man would pump syrup into a glass, then jerk back the tap of carbonated water (hence, the title “soda jerk”) to create your soda. Bottled beverages for take-out didn’t appear until Prohibition.

Fentimans is ready to show you what
soda pop tasted like in the good old
But across the pond in England, Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages were delivered door-to-door in stone jars. These, too, evolved into individual, capped bottles; today the line, in its Victorian trappings, is available in the U.S. as well. Curiosity Cola, Dandelion & Burdock, Ginger Beer, Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger, Shandy (real shandy, brewed with beer) and Victorian Lemonade (each bottle containing the juice of 1-1/2 lemons) add charm and great natural taste to the 21st century menu. It’s an enchanting return to yesteryear, without the need to crank up the Model T and putter down to Whitman’s Drug Store. Learn more about Shandy, Jigger and the rest of the Victorian pop crew in the full review, and why it takes seven days to brew this soda. And take a look at more of our favorite all-natural sodas in our Soft Drinks Section.

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