That is not intended as a statement of pride, nor as an admission of guilt; It’s simply intended as a factual description—I have discerning tastes when it comes to soft drinks (or whatever your appellation of choice might be—more on that in the future). I recognize that my attention to detail when it comes to such matters amounts to snobbery—although, like any true snob, I feel that this is the result of an appalling lack of taste on the part of the general public.
I don’t strive to be elitist, but the fact is most people don’t pay much attention to what soda tastes like. There are lots of reasons for this—to point out a few:
- Most people find the idea of soda juvenile or lowbrow by its nature. The kind of people prone to snobbishness in drink have no problem finding something to fill that desire. The fact that soft drinks are “soft” leads many people to think that they’re not worth paying attention to.
- Many adults who choose to drink soda do so for specific ends; the most common of these, in my experience, is to ingest caffeine. Flavor, in this equation, is a secondary factor at best.
- Marketing. A lot of people have spent a lot of money to try to get you to drink a lot of soda and not care much about what it tastes like as long as it has the correct name on the label.
As you may have guessed, I reject those premises. To me, the way a soda tastes is not just a reason to drink soda, it is the reason. If you’re not drinking it because of the flavor, then it doesn’t matter what you’re drinking. For people like me, who want to taste what they drink, it only follows that they would gain an interest in the quality and composition of the sodas they choose.
Of course, as with every other area of American commerce, there’s more out there than what is advertised during the Super Bowl. So I’m always on the lookout for something new, different, and well-made. When I find something I think is worth a try, I’ll share my thoughts on it. If anyone out there has anything they’d like to recommend, suggest, or (ideally) send me samples of, I’d be happy to check them out.
So what makes a good soda? Of course this is a subjective matter; Anna already mentioned her ground rules, which mostly line up with my vision of a soda worth trying. I’ll elaborate on these in other entries, but as a baseline, here’s what I look for in a soda:
- No caffeine.
- Real sugar.
- Glass bottles (when not available on tap).
- Some indication that the makers have a dedication to quality over quantity.
- Good flavors!
It’s fairly simple, and yet surprisingly challenging. I live in a part of the world where tons of cheap, mass-market soda is available everywhere, and yet you will find me and my fellow soda snobs in that back corner of the aisle, picking through bottles, reading labels, and frequently being frustrated. That ideal soda may be hard to find, but the search pays off in deliciousness.