Less Than 1 Calorie Per Bottle, outside the Birchwood Cafe, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
I had planned a post on writing for this sunny Friday afternoon. But the day felt like Summer, and I ran out of steam. So with fans blazing across the studio, and windows still open at 9pm, I’ve opted for something simpler.
I was running back through the photographic archives when this little gem of a bench caught my attention. It reminds me of days gone by, times when we ran slip sliding through the sprinkler, guzzled soft drinks, drank gallons of Kool-Aid, and even flavored garden hose water — anything to keep the sweltering Southern heat at bay.
Did you have a favorite childhood soft drink? You can’t be from Georgia and not love Coca-Cola (I’m a big Coke Zero fan). My other favorite was RC Cola (Royal Crown). In 1905, Claude Hatcher, a young graduate pharmacist from Columbus, Georgia, began creating soft drinks in the basement of his family’s wholesale grocery business. RC Cola was born (I used to love their jingles).
Diet Rite (an RC product) came along in 1958 and was the first diet soda ever to be sold (in limited quantities). In 1962, Diet Rite Cola was introduced nationwide and rose to #4 in 18 months. Thus began America’s love affair with the diet soft drink.
The weathered bench in the photograph that boasts “Diet-Rite — Less Than 1 Calorie Per Bottle” is outside the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. Remember cyclamate and saccharin (my grandmother used to sweeten her coffee with it)? Well, all that’s changed; Diet Rite is now sweetened with 21st Century low-cal Splenda.
Diet-Rite and RC Cola, along with Coca-Cola, remind me of my childhood in Georgia. We used to drop Planters Peanuts into a frosty blue-green bottle of Co-Cola (Southern dialect shortens the word) from the metal vending machine at my Granddaddy’s shop. Forget the can; you haven’t tasted cola until you’ve taken a long cold swig from a glass bottle. I still buy them once in a while during seasonal appearances on the grocery store shelf.
So what’s your favorite summer soft drink memory? Shasta, Bubba Cola, RC, Pepsi, Cherry Coke, Clicquot Club, Schweppe’s, Fanta, Dr Pepper, Orange Crush? Or maybe your parents didn’t let you drink soda. What was their replacement (or their “no sugar” bribe)?
Oh, by the way, (here comes the healthy part of this post) you won’t want to miss the food at the Birchwood, a cool cafe with great ice cream and a wide range of natural and organic foods. The Birchwood was established in 1926 by the Bursch family; the cafe was originally a dairy. It’s not quite Summer yet, but I bet the tables outside the Birchwood were hopping with Good Real Food (and a few natural colas) on this shiny April day!
Good Real Food, Izzy’s At The Birchwood, Orange Crush, Drink Clicquot Club, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, all photos © 2007-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
-posted on red Ravine, Friday, April 3rd, 2008