Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Soda vs. Pop vs. Other

An eternal debate in these United States. Is it soda? Is it pop? Is it coke?
A little bit of background. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio- the majority of people around me referred to it as "pop", and on as a generic term for "carbonated beverage" I did as well. Why would I or anyone else call it anything differently? It's what we heard all the time, and had no reason to call it anything else.
I, for the most part, however, called every soda by name-if it was a Coca-Cola, it was Coke, if it was Pepsi, it was a Pepsi. If it was Root Beer, I called it either "root beer", or (as necessary), by the specific brand. More often then not, I called each and every individual root beer by the specific brand I was referring to at the moment. I never asked my parents to get me "pop" when they went to the store, and I always specifically said I wanted "Dad's", "A&W", "IBC", "Barq's" or "Mug"(which my 3 year old daughter affectionately calls "doggy soda"). I was a huge Root Beer fanatic, and still am. I'm a huge purist as well, as I don't consider Birch Beer to be a type of Root Beer at all-too distinct of a flavor for me.
Anyways, back on topic. I started off calling it "pop", but after watching thousands of hours of television I noticed that the majority of people on screen referred to it as "soft drink"(something that is too general a descriptor for my needs), and/or "soda". Of course, I knew that it was "soda pop", but since I had always known "pop", it seemed natural to call it that. Then, when I was about 15 or 16 I had a friend that only called it "soda", and I slowly just made the transition. Low and behold, 7 or 8 years after that I ended up in Bellingham, Wa-where it is almost evenly referred to as "soda" or "pop"(breaking slightly more towards the "soda" category. Long story short, I end up "fitting in" regardless of my company.
Because of the differences in location, however, my daughters like to tell me that "Grandma Melody has Pop, and we have soda...I want "pop" like at Grandma Melody's!"
I even have relatives in the south who literally call it "sodey pop", and that bugs me to no end. It sounds even more hickish when spoken by someone without a redneck accent, however, so there is always that I guess.
In my mind, it doesn't really matter what you refer to it as in the states-everyone is going to understand you one way or the other, and only the most persnickety are going to call you out on it. Go with your gut and call it what you will. Either way, you will enjoy it(or not) all the same.

My interest is piqued

My story begins shortly after relocating from my hometown of Toledo, Oh all the way across the country to beautiful Bellingham, Wa. Beautiful, as it may have been, it was awfully lonesome when my wife was at work and my oldest(then a few months old) was sleeping. So, to pass the time, I would get online and read about whatever peaked my interest. Then, I ran across a(now defunct site) that was selling a Soda Siphon, along with a list of various soda flavors, recipes and a list of nostalgiac Soda Fountains. As my style goes, I ended up reading everything I could about making homemade soda. There really wasn't a whole lot of information out there, but it grabbed my attention and consumed me for the better part of a month.
One of the first things I read was that most generic cola flavors on the market were actually a combination of Vanilla and Cinnamon. As such, I rushed to my kitchen and combined the two ingredients in a small coffee cup with an ounce of water and some dissolved cane sugar(beet sugar just doesn't provide the same flavor-more on that later). I took a drink, and realized two things- A) I used WAY too much cinnamon. I coughed and gagged on the extreme dryness assaulting my tongue and a burn that made my nostrils feel as though they had been re-engineered to exhale sand. B) I was missing a very important ingredient(or more)...
So, what was I to do? Well, not wanting to waste more of our precious spices(being broke at the time), I went back to the computer and read some more about the ingredients(the amount of each that I used were sufficient for at least a 2 liter of soda, least of all combining them in what was effectively a double-shot of insanity, and that most colas also tend to include a spice or two, and a fairly consistent blend of citrus oils and some kind of acid(mostly Citric Acid, but sometimes Phosphoric Acid to give them more of a sting.
As awful as my first attempt at making a cola flavor was, it was a valuable experience, teaching me that moderation is good, and forever etching into my brain what that horrible concoction tasted like-which will become very relevant very soon.
I gave up on my soda-making dreams for a while, as I got a full-time job and work, sleep and family became far more important then pursuing any new hobbies at the time. I did get back into it momentarily a few years later after a much-needed kick in the ass from the wife(a common motivator in my household), but that's a different story for a different date.

Monday, May 30, 2011

My journey starts...

Welcome to my blog. Herein I will document my journey through the process of making my own soda. It has been a long, but sporadic adventure thus far, and my hope is that by having a public venue to relate the experience on, that I will be motivated to work even harder at a hobby I very much enjoy.
I will also be reviewing sodas on a regular basis. That way, I can explain to my readers why a certain soda may inspire me, or what I really enjoy about a particular soda. I also hope to bring some attention to some of the obscure sodas, so that more people the world over can indulge in the wondrous world of carbonated beverages.
I will provide soda reviews, homemade soda recipes, and humorous stories relating to the entire experience.
Knowing me, I tend to ramble and may end up having an interesting story to go along with certain sodas as well, so that should make for some good reading.