I’ll have what Floyd’s having

Published 9:19 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Southerners love their Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Cheerwine, Dr Pepper (that’s right, it’s Dr — without the period) and other soda, pop, soft drinks or whatever one wants to call them.
The top five sodas in the USA, according to NBCNews.com, are Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Dr Pepper. Over my 57 years, I’ve had my share of those top-five sodas. These days, I prefer Sprite Zero.
Don’t forget that Pepsi was invented in New Bern and Sundrop was created in Concord.
But back in the days when I wasn’t concerned with how much sugar (back then sugar was used instead of high-fructose corn syrup) and caffeine I was ingesting. What I was concerned with was taste — a different taste. Back in the late 1980s, when working until midnight or a little past midnight to get the Sunday paper out, I was a Jolt Cola fan — “all the sugar and twice the caffeine.”
In my boyhood days, I recall Hoke Sanders, my maternal grandfather, keeping an eight-pack (made from metal, hot cardboard) on had. That eight-pack contained the small bottles of Coke, which, as everyone knows, taste better than the larger bottles of Coke. I still prefer the small bottles of Coke to their larger kin.
As I aged from 5 to 15, I developed a refined palate for sodas with somewhat unique flavors or flavors that just pleased me. I looked forward to finding sodas such as Strawberry Crush, Peach Crush and a grape Nehi. When Fresca, a grapefruit-flavored soda, hit the market, I hit the market.
And, yes, I had my share of RC colas and MoonPies while growing up. I recall when Mountain Dew first appeared. It promised to “tickle your innards.” It lived up to its promise. Let’s not forget 7-Up, which not only had a great taste but also was good for helping settle upset stomachs, according to some mothers and grandmothers. For some reason, probably the bubbles escaping from the carbonated water, 7-Up always tickled my nose and resulted in little splatters getting on the lenses of my glasses.
I tried a TaB once or twice, but its taste was anything but satisfying to me. Basically, TaB was the forerunner of Diet Coke. When I was growing up, TaB was for women trying to keep their girlish figures. Ladies, I’m sorry you had to drink that concoction in an effort to do that.
When fictional Floyd Lawson, the barber for Mayberry, sits at Wally’s filling station (another term for gas station) and describes the sodas he’s drinking, I want to be there next to him — sampling that Nectarine Crush or Huckleberry Smash he’s enjoying.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I discovered Cheerwine, created in Salisbury. Cheerwine is great by itself, but add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a glass of Cheerwine and it becomes exquisite.
If I could only drink just one more soda, which one would I choose?
I’d go for an RC Cola … and a MoonPie.
Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. He’s convinced sodas taste better if they come from glass bottles rather than plastic bottles or cans.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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