I will readily admit to enjoying national brands. I eat fast food, I drink Coke, etc. That’s not to say that I eschew any regional or local vendors, just that I’m unrefined enough to enjoy the mass-produced things in life. There’s a lot to be said for the local flavors, though. Two of my favorite restaurants in Lafayette are completely local. When I travel, I like to eat at local restaurants — both for the food and to see what the locals are like. Even more interesting than local restaurants, though, are local (or just rare) soft drinks.
Whenever I’m in the Jasper, IN area there’s one task I must accomplish: buy all the Ski I can. This delicious beverage is not to be found around here, so I have to stock up. I think the same might happen for Ale-8-One, a Kentucky favorite that I’d bet mixes quite well with Bourbon. Big Red is a drink I grew up on that is becoming more widely distributed. Every once in a while, I’ll stop at a gas station that sells Nehi and I have to buy a bottle.
Imagine my distress when I stopped for gas in Clinton, Tennessee last weekend. I needed something to drink, so I looked in the coolers — there were no local drinks at all. I thought about it for a while and realized that the absence of local beverages is the norm, and it’s uncommon to find those interesting local flavors. So where have they gone? I’d guess that many have been purchased by larger companies and have become national brands, but is there really no demand for local soft drinks? There’s only one thing I can do: I must whine about it on the Internet. In the meantime, I’ll just keep looking in all the gas stations.