Soda? In Rochester, we call it “pop.”

When I was growing up back in the 1960s, there weren’t as many concerns about nutrition, and soda was a staple of the American diet. Here in Rochester, we referred to soda as “pop” and generally still do. When out-of-towners asked for a “soda” back in the day, we thought that was very strange.

Every weekend, our Dad and a few of us kids would hop in the station wagon and take a short drive to the cinder block building at 625 Shelford Road (photo below) and buy a case of large bottles of “pop” from a local manufacturer, “Fiz Pop,” which was a lot cheaper than the national brands. They had many flavors and it was fun to pick out my favorites as we filled the case. Fiz eventually moved out of that location and my Dad began buying six-packs of Coca-Cola at the big grocery. One of my sweetest high-school-era memories is sucking down ice-old Cokes in the summertime while watching my little black-and-white TV late at night in my hot, un-air-conditioned bedroom.

These days, health experts strongly discourage drinking soda. There’s 39 grams of “sugar” (i.e., high-fructose corn syrup) in a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola, which translates to 9.75 teaspoons of sugar per can. That’s A LOT of sugar.

I don’t drink a lot of pop/soda, but I do like to crack open a cold one on Saturdays after doing the yard chores. I definitely have my favorites. I have a small stockpile of my favorite varieties with samples in the above photo:

From left to right:

  • Dr. Pepper & Cream Soda – Great combo! Was on the grocery shelf for a limited time during the Summer, but didn’t see it for awhile. It’s now back in six-packs of 16.9 oz. plastic bottles.
  • Coca-Cola, Orange Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.
  • Vernors – A very gingery-tasting ginger-ale that originally hailed from Michigan. Wikipedia states that “soft,” full-flavored ginger-ales like Vernors were popular before Prohibition, but afterwards, less-flavorful “dry” varieties like Canada Dry caught on.
  • Coca-Cola, Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.
  • A&W Cream Soda – Hard to find. Stocked sporadically.
  • Coca-Cola, Cherry Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.

The only Coke on the local grocery shelves lately is Classic Coke and Diet Coke. Has Coke given up on its specialty varieties or have the purchasing agents at our two local grocery chains just gotten lazy? Articles on the internet state that Coke has NOT discontinued its specialty flavors, but that it’s had a hard time keeping up with the high demand during the C-19 pandemic.

What’s your favorite flavor of pop…er, I mean soda?

Above: The Fiz Pop brand was was eventually bought by the Petix family, owners of College Club Beverages. That’s brothers Louie and Joe Petix in the photo above.
I also occasionally like to pick up some bottles of Jarritos-brand Lime and Tamarind flavored soda from Mexico in in the imported foods aisle.
Above: The former Fiz Pop building at 625 Shelford Road, now subdivided into multiple apartments.

37 thoughts on “Soda? In Rochester, we call it “pop.”

  1. Diet Coke! I drink 1 44oz fountain soda a day. For the first few months of COVID we didn’t get soda/pop (my mom got me hooked on this and I got Nathan hooked) at our mini market each morning and I switched to hot tea. If the machine is out of Diet Coke i will drink Diet Dr Pepper. I am 39 and have drank diet soda since I was like 7 so regular soda of any kind disgusts me! I got my mom and Nathan to drink diet soda because they both used to drink tons and tons of regular, that is a waste of calories to me! I know, I know the artificial sweeteners in diet are no good for us either! I will drink DC out of a can if I must, but I will not drink it out of the bottle unless I am outside of the USA and that is one bottle/day max. There’s something about the carbonation in bottles that really upsets my stomach. I do drink a lot of carbonated water out of bottles and that doesn’t mess with me, I suppose I am just weird!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Mandy! I have tried diet sodas every now and then, but always had a hard time surmounting the artificial sweetener taste. I can imagine that once a person gets used to DC, regular Coke must taste overpoweringly syrupy. I’ve never drank enough fluids (one of the reasons I developed kidney stones) so I’m currently trying to up my water intake every day. But water is so…blah. Yeah, regular “pop” is sooooo bad, totally empty calories, but I’m still going to enjoy my 2-3 sodas per week.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh man, Papa Tom! My dad’s had kidney stones at least ten times. He’s had lasers, ultrasounds as well as more invasive procedures to deal with them. My dad drinks mode water than anyone I have ever met, no alcohol, soda, coffee nor tea (how anyone survives without caffeine in some capacity is BEYOND me!!). He does drink lemonade at times but that shouldn’t give him kidney stones. I am so sorry, I have never given birth nor had kidney stones and from what women have said, the kidney stones are worse!

        Please enjoy your 2-3 pops per week! What kind does Corinne like?!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Mandy! I sympathize with your Dad! I’ve had several bouts with kidney stones, first time 20 years ago, and also had the ultrasound treatment. So painful. Excruciating. Brought me to my knees. The OxyContin they gave me didn’t touch the pain. Haven’t had an episode in 3 years, thankfully. Corinne used to be a big pop drinker in her teens, but swore off of it and always warns me to give it up. She drinks just water all day.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I just saw this! Kudos to Corinne! Even when I gave up soda pop, I still drank a cup or two of tea for the caffeine each day. I have GI/digestive “go” issues if you will so the laxative effect is a blessing for me, sorry way more than you ever wanted to know! Now, coffee i absolutely cannot drink. The caffeine in coffee gives me a headache and hurts me. I am a HIGHLY energetic, passionate person so I don’t need a lot of caffeine or I will stim, not a good thing! I said in my undergrad senior seminar that I felt sluggish one morning and my professor, Dr Dana Meade said, “Mandy’s sluggish is other people’s perky!” I didn’t find that funny but everyone else did, so I except there’s truth to it!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I usually have two cups of coffee in the a.m. Corinne was a BIG coffee drinker, but has cut it down to one cup in the morning because of her health issues. When she used to work evenings, 7 to 7, she would get home and make herself a strong cup of coffee before she went to bed. She would not listen to my counsel.

        Corinne is also VERY energetic and passionate person, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to her when we were teenagers because I’m polar opposite, slow, methodical, and stoic. The difference has also sometimes grated on us and I’ve told her to “calm down” and she’s told me to “get excited.”

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Happy Thanksgiving, Papa Tom and Corinne! As soon as someone else in my family wakes up (Nathan or Mom) we will be off to get our daily dose of caffeine (44 oz DC) I can’t carry 3 giant sodas and my car only has 2 cup holders conducive to said cups. Even I have limits, I am not going to purchase a car because of the size of their cup holders!!! As per going to the store, I use to feel bad to go to the mini mart on holidays; however, if they are going to be open, hopefully I can brighten their day by thanking them for working etc.

        As to the “calm down” expression, I have heard that my whole life! I respond saying, “get hype!” Next time I will try “get excited” and see if it yields better results!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thanks, Mandy, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you, Nathan, and your Mom! I was up at 4:30 and already had my first cup of java and looking forward to the 2nd! I enjoyed your description of your daily DC expedition. I enjoy getting up real early and blogging and reading. Corinne usually sleeps until 8-8:30 so Gracie (our dog) and I have 3-4 hours of couch time. Corinne doesn’t like to hear me say she’s high-strung/excitable/hyper so I avoid those adjectives.


    1. Thanks, Paula! I’m glad we western New Yorkers aren’t the only ones to call it “pop.” Classic Coke always hit the spot unlike any other when I was hot and thirsty. But I also always had a soft spot for cream sodas.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun post, Tom. Growing up in NYC, we called soda “soda.” When I moved to New Mexico in 1979, they called in either “pop” or “Coke.” The Coke part was really weird. Even if I wanted a ginger ale or orange soda, they would call it a “Coke.” When I tried to tell them how weird that was, they looked at me like I was weird. Oh well … when in Rome …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the feedback, David! I enjoy learning about local/regional peculiarities. One of my sisters went to school in Boston and New York City for several years and she returned with an uppity Upper East Side faux accent and made it a point to refer to pop as soda.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not far from your sister regarding accents. Whenever I visited New York, I made sure to pronounce my r’s, something I had never done before. The family said I turned into a hick. You can’t win!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My in-laws are from Illinois and my mother-in-law takes r to a whole new level. Even Nathan, God love him puts r in words that I didn’t even know possible like “wash” he says “wor-sh” the first time he said about “worshing” something I didn’t know if he was talking about Worcester sauce or I didn’t know. I asked him like two weeks ago, “where did you learn to say ‘worsh’ for ‘wash’?” He gave me a look and said, “don’t know.” All this is to say I really do appreciate regional dialects and pronunciations as well agreeing with David, “when in Rome!”

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Regional dialects are fascinating. We have very hard, naslly Rs in Rochester but we don’t do the wor-sh thing. I noticed people from the Pittsburgh region pronounce my name “Tawm” instead of “Tahm.”
        Below is a one-minute video of a guy laying it on thick with a Rochester accent and many of the locally-made commercials sound just like this:

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post, Tom. Enjoyed. My favorite lately is Polar (brand) Natural Seltzer Water. Just water. I’ve heard Coke and Pepsi called soda and hear it called pop, I’ve also heard it called soda pop. Mostly on the west coast folks said Coke, or Pepsi, or 7-Up. . . just the brand. And out there brands have their followers. Coke isn’t Pepsi even though both are cola drinks, for instance. I will say each does have its own distinct taste. When I lived in Michigan, some folks thought it odd that I liked Verners, and some thought it strange I had had it in California. Perhaps they assumed it to be a Michigan-only secret beverage.

    Have a great week. L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wil! Yup, we have all kinds of varieties of Polar at our grocery. Coke and Pepsi have their die-hard followers. My wife was a loyal Coke drinker MANY years ago and I remember giving her a blind taste test between Coke and Pepsi and she failed, but I know there’s a distinct flavor difference. I first noticed Vernors on the shelves here in New York maybe 40 years ago and I’ve enjoyed it since. The first few sips when the carbonation is fresh it goes right up through the nostrils and drills a hole through the brain.
      Thanks and have a great week, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dropping by with a hi! During our homeschooling today with our Bible study on Genesis 7 the girls went tangent and we wanted to find out which place in America has the longest days of rain…and it was where you live! Averaging 167 days! That’s too much for me to handle lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow specialty pops seems interesting to me and I want to know more about various ones…especially for Root Beer, my favorite kind of soda if I want to be fancy (don’t normally drink soda and even less for Root Beer). I do like Jarritos of all kinds of flavor! Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I like a Root Beer occasionally. We have a local burger chain, Tom Wahl’s, that makes its own Root Beer and it is soooooo good. I need to follow up with Fiz Pop that I mentioned in the post. They make some very unique flavors but they’re not widely available at the big grocery chains here in ROC.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Geri. I don’t generally keep an eye on Pepsi products, but I have seen irregular appearances of Coke Zero. I checked the soda aisle today and the only special flavored Coke was a few large bottles of cherry vanilla.

      Liked by 1 person

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