Glass-bottled, cane-sugared, bubbly little gulps of happiness.
August 28, 2009 1:32 PM   Subscribe

A short documentary on John Nese: Soda pop obsessive. His store Galco's in Los Angeles sells more than two-hundred kinds of soda pop, particularly favoring small-label, glass-bottled and cane-sweetened fare. Yay.

If you don't live in Los Angeles, you can order rare sodas from John (including the delicious Mr. Q Cumber) here.

Thanks to Thin Lizzy for alerting me to this
posted by Bookhouse (47 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, but does he sell Pepsi Blue?
posted by Cosmic at 1:33 PM on August 28, 2009


MANHATTAN SPECIAL DIET-DECAFFEINATED ESPRESSO COFFEE SODA seems wrong. Pretty cool store though.
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on August 28, 2009


I don't know if Galco's sells Pepsi Blue, but Pop the Soda Shop, my obscure soda vendor of choice, sure doesn't. There's got to be a story there.
posted by darksasami at 1:37 PM on August 28, 2009


so so cool
posted by Addiction at 1:47 PM on August 28, 2009


This has been the week where things I crave but can't get in Memphis are posted to Metafilter. First Primanti Brothers, then Sheetz, and now Manhattan Special. The stomach, it hungers!
posted by bunnytricks at 1:50 PM on August 28, 2009


Oh, I love this.

He recommends Rock 'N Rye so he's awesome in my book.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:51 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, that rose soda looks like the best thing ever. I'd drink so much of that that the resultant diabetes would be a badge of honor.
posted by bunnytricks at 1:52 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


MANHATTAN SPECIAL DIET-DECAFFEINATED ESPRESSO COFFEE SODA seems wrong. Pretty cool store though.

He might sell it, but he makes it clear in the doc that he thinks diet soda is for the birds.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:52 PM on August 28, 2009


The Sam's Club near my house carries Mexican Cokes in the big glass bottles. The 21st century is AWESOME.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:56 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what I always thought would be a cool idea? A wall of Coke from around the world. Which is the best? Vietnam coke? Peru coke? Australia coke? Collect them for their labels, collect them for their tastes. See which one fits your fancy.
posted by billysumday at 1:56 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


More and more Mexican Cokes are coming with HFCS, which is disappointing. I do like some of the more obscure sodas. I had to order a few extra bottles of Peach Nehi for my Mysterious Skin gift box because I knew I'd have to try some.
posted by adipocere at 2:00 PM on August 28, 2009


That was a really interesting video. I now have a lot of things that I want to try. And it is so refreshing to see someone doing something they love so much. Thanks for sharing.

I've always been a huge fan of Dublin Dr. Pepper which is DP made with imperial sugar instead of corn syrup. It is infinitely better. I now want to try more of these other kinds. And after seeing this video, I searched the googles to find out that I have something similar--though much, much smaller--here in Dallas. I'll be checking it out this weekend. Hopefully the proprietor is as happy as this guy!
posted by dios at 2:01 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


OH BOY! Everybody on my Christmas list this year is getting mixed cases of rare soda, then!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:01 PM on August 28, 2009


Kick back, have and old time soda, and listen to old time radio. Isn't the future wonderful?
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:02 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay, great video. Only... apparently you can't pan by and glimpse Malta Goya without making my gorge rise.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:05 PM on August 28, 2009


Thin Lizzy has a song about rare sodas?
Thanks for this; I love mini-documentaries, and this was wonderful, and made me VERY thirsty and wishing I lived on the West Coast (a rare thing). I will be looking out for the Kosher-Coca-Cola next March.
posted by not_on_display at 2:07 PM on August 28, 2009


Good call on the cane sugar...mmm...
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:08 PM on August 28, 2009


Anyone got any suggestions for small soda companies that are in Canada?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:14 PM on August 28, 2009


I'm partial to sodas in glass bottles, preferably with cane sugar instead of hfcs, but you can be duped nowadays. I had a bad bottle of some Jamaican orange soda yesterday, tasted like a cleaning product. A delicious Jamaican soda that comes in a little glass bottle is Ting, grapefruit, kinda dry. Mexican cokes can also fool you because the label often says something like "contains either cane sugar or hfcs". Next time I'm in LA I'll try to look this store up, thanks Bookhouse.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:15 PM on August 28, 2009


If the selection overwhelms you, here's a short list of some of my favorite obscure sodas:

1). Strawberry 101: the rare strawberry soda that doesn't have that cough syrup vibe
2). The aforementioned Mr. Q Cumber: If I drank, I'd slip some vodka in there for a cocktail
3). Bundaberg Ginger Beer: drink ice cold
4). Cheerwine: Carolina cherry soda, barbecue and beach drink.
5). Ting (on preview: indeed, Divine Wino)
6). Sprecher Cherry Cola: real cherry juice!
7.) Blenhiem Ginger Ale: spicy!
8). Dr Brown's Black Cherry (not really that obscure, and Dr. Brown's does use corn syrup).
8a). If you ever get stuck with some Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, make a float with strawberry ice cream. You need to trust me on this.
9). And Boylan's works in a pinch, especially their grape.

And I meant Mefite Thin Lizzy, natch.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:17 PM on August 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bookhouse, I miss Cheerwine a lot. Also, Sprecher makes draft root beer—that's right, root beer on tap—that is delish.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:37 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This comment is very self-linky since I work for chow.com but all of the Obsessives videos are something that I just love. Every person interviewed has been interesting and genuine and passionate in the way that only people who are truly, well, obsessive, about their work are. Nach Waxman from Kitchen Arts & Letters was one of my favorites.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:05 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


infintewindow: I fell in love with Sprecher draft rootbeer at GenCon in Wisconsin years ago [NEEEEERDS!]. And when I say I fell in love, I mean that I still occasionally order the bottled kind online and have it sent to me in New York. An extravagance, but worth it. Nese cites Sprecher lo-cal root beer as one of the only decent "diet" sodas. He's right; it's awesome.
posted by The Bellman at 3:07 PM on August 28, 2009


If we're listing, Bookhouse:
10) Thomas Kemper Orange Creme (favorite of the orange cremes)
11) Moxie Cherry Cola (Moxie prime is just too weird, man.)
12) Old Rhode Island Molasses Root Beer
13) Taylor's Chai Cola (black tea, ginger, cola, yum)
14) Gale's Root Beer (by a Chicago pastry chef, just switched to cane sugar as of 09)

Plus Cheerwine and Sprecher, of course.

The local is Pops, out on Route 66, which advertises 500 varities. Suck it, Dallas.
posted by ormondsacker at 3:11 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone got any suggestions for small soda companies that are in Canada?

A lot of microbreweries do soft drinks, too. Propeller, for instance.

PEI has Seaman's. There's Brio Chinotto, which is my absolute favourite ever ever ever. And, of course, there's always Jones.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:24 PM on August 28, 2009


(Oh, wait. Brio comes in a distant second to President's Choice Jamaican Style Ginger Beer, which I assume has been discontinued, since I haven't seen it in a few years.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:26 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just came back to Mefi to check up on the comments and I couldn't find the post because I ctrl-F'd for "pop". Lulz.

I didn't know the little tidbit he shares about Coke releasing kosher versions of Coca-Cola before Passover. He says to look for the yellow cap with some hebrew text on it. Too bad it's in the plastic bottles, but I'll be on the lookout for it.
posted by autodidact at 4:39 PM on August 28, 2009


Gotta show some love for The Pop Shoppe here in Burlington ON. They may have gone back under as I have not seen their labels around recently. Used to be a whole chain here in Ontario where all they sold was about ten different kinds of pop in multi-packs (80s style which meant a milk-crate type thing). You'd keep the bottles and return them like we do with beer and wine bottles. They were always found right next to The Beer Store. I remember loving to tag along with my mom or dad to the beer store as they'd let me wander around in the Pop Shoppe and come in and buy some pop after they were done.
posted by autodidact at 4:42 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I went to college around there (*) and I still remember this instructor of mine, the great roland young, tell me one day to drive over to galcos soda pop stop and spend twenty dollars on cool looking labels. this was back in 2000 or 2001 and I distinctly remember the hard time I had finding this place. I remember who I was in the car with. I remember how surprised we were by how that place actually looked - a low-rent supermarket from the seventies. and I remember john nesse, though I never knew his name, grinning from ear to ear, wearing the same apron, smiling at everyone and chatting customers up and having a blast. this dude wasn't happy, he was the definition of happiness. all he had in his store were what felt like a million different sodas, some very nice beer bottles (even a few from my hometown in germany) and an unstaffed deli counter in the back. I remember john being a bit heavier than today (okay, a bit more than a "a bit") and being a bit worried for him and I am so glad to see him this well and still happy all these years later. having been to his store and seen his open display of happiness was one of the most profound experiences I had that summer and, as you might be able to tell, I never forgot about it. so this is my way to say 'thanks' for alerting me to this video, bookhouse.

I should also thank roland young, who not a week later heard my report and suggested I'd drive down to costa mesa because there might be something else I'd like. he suggested this while grinning from ear to ear, just like john. that place was noguchi garden and it had an even greater effect on me.

roland, who is still very alive and kicking but no longer teaches, did this all the time. I loved his class. there weren't many mentally unstable but utterly brilliant clowns around and he would casually dole things out that would be unbelievably right for the individual recipients. I got more out of him than anyone else in the decade since I first met him. this could have gone the other way. I made a call to actually get my butt up and see if this guy knew something that I didn't and went out to eagle rock or wherever that place was and that's how I met john nese.
posted by krautland at 4:49 PM on August 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


You Should See The Other Guy, how about The Pop Shoppe? (caution, exceptionally demented Flash website with flaming harps, skipping monsters and alarming pooping trees - which, mercifully, autodidcat didn't link to).

No Irn Bru. No Thums Up. No (ack!) Vimto or Tizer. GINGER FAIL.
posted by scruss at 4:57 PM on August 28, 2009


Moxie prime is just too weird, man.

Nooo, it's so good! It tastes like rubber bands but in the best possible way! My stepmom is from Massachusetts, Moxie and Devil Dogs were always big time fun when her family came to visit.
posted by padraigin at 5:46 PM on August 28, 2009


Sprechers is great. My favorite root beer and unfortunately, HCFS. The cruelty, the cruelty. Cane coca cola is sold at Costco so it is not all lost but really, Sprechers is the best root beer and cream soda to be had (I dedicated a month of tasting every available root beer and cream soda on the market to determine this...)

Well, at least I have the lip balm from them.
posted by jadepearl at 6:58 PM on August 28, 2009


Good post, I love obscure, regional, and off-brand sodas! It's been getting harder and harder to find the original Moxie these days, so I'll have to hit up Galco's sometime soon. I haven't been in years, but it's also pretty close to the the so-called "Rock 'n' Roll 7-Eleven" which is renowned for having an unusually large selection of craft beers.

Also for LA peoples: There's a new soda store in Burbank called Rocket Fizz that I've heard is good.

It's too bad I can't cross-post this to AskMe somewhere ;-)
posted by dhammond at 7:03 PM on August 28, 2009


Galco's is AWESOME!!!!!!

I also like the brewing store in Woodland Hills, they carry things to make your own soda pops!
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 8:01 PM on August 28, 2009


I heard that Van Halen song 'Right Now' on the radio today, and I've had a hankering for Crystal Pepsi all day. It's the darndest thing, but I haven't been able to find it for a few years. I wonder if this store has some in stock?
posted by Mael Oui at 8:29 PM on August 28, 2009


Are the prices in his brick-and-mortar store lower than the ones on his web site?
posted by MegoSteve at 9:00 PM on August 28, 2009


There's a place in the northern suburbs of Chicago called America's Market that has a whole wall of regional and hard-to-find kinds of pop. I think it is the only place I can find my beloved Ski in the area!
posted by SisterHavana at 9:49 PM on August 28, 2009


Crystal Pepsi was a really great product, but everything about how it was marketed was completely stupid. I mean, it's clear cola! It would sell on novelty alone. So, obviously, the Ad Wizards had to go and blow it by putting the world's least hip typeface on the bottle and hiring a bunch of washed up hair metal dinosaurs to do the jingle. Congratulations, Ad Wizards: You're trying to sell a soft drink, and you just lost the youth market. A couple years later, Coke got it just the other way around with OK Cola: Pitch-perfect branding, awful product.

(Hey, speaking of clear soda from the early nineties: Anyone remember Clearly Canadian? Yuck! Pretty bottles, though.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:12 PM on August 28, 2009


Sys Rq: (Oh, wait. Brio comes in a distant second to President's Choice Jamaican Style Ginger Beer, which I assume has been discontinued, since I haven't seen it in a few years.)

I think it depends where you are; out in Vancouver and suburbs, it's still around (my parents love the stuff as is, I am fond of floats or dark 'n' stormies made with it).
posted by heeeraldo at 11:26 PM on August 28, 2009


I didn't know they still made Cheerwine. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!x5000000000!!!!!!
posted by josher71 at 9:17 AM on August 29, 2009


Sodafinder.com's Pepsi Blue
posted by jonp72 at 10:01 AM on August 29, 2009


Sodafinder.com's Pepsi Blue

Six hundred bucks for a twelve pack of soda?! Wait, now I want to read the articles on this insane collector's market that would apparently throw down so much money on out-of-date soda product.

Or is this seller being very very very very cocky?
posted by Spatch at 11:05 AM on August 29, 2009


No Pic-a-pop? I think this was strictly a Western Canadian phenomenon in the late 70's, but looks like it's been revived.
posted by benzenedream at 1:07 PM on August 29, 2009


A wall of Coke from around the world. Which is the best? Vietnam coke? Peru coke? Australia coke?

If you're in Atlanta you can go to the Coca-Cola museum and they have wall of cokes where you can try them.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:13 PM on August 29, 2009


(Hey, speaking of clear soda from the early nineties: Anyone remember Clearly Canadian? Yuck! Pretty bottles, though.)


I really liked the western loganberry flavor, mostly out of a need to fill the gaping hole in my soda heart left by the dearly departed New York Seltzer. The rest was pretty terrible though.
posted by Dr-Baa at 2:17 PM on August 30, 2009


Galcos sells Faygo, and when I was living on the west coast, I really missed my Rock'n'Rye and my Red Pop. mmmm
posted by phytage at 4:13 PM on August 30, 2009


Stopped at Galco's this afternoon and found another reason to love the store. John Nese drives a DeLorean!
posted by plastic_animals at 6:42 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


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