Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Root beer is open source soda

Root beer is the only unbranded soda flavor. And while that statement isn't wholly true, it might as well be. For every soda flavor, there's a dominant brand by which you order it. Cola--coke or pepsi. Lemon lime--sprite or 7up. Orange--fanta. Grape--welch's. Actually, I've never known anyone to order a grape soda. It seems like specifying you'd like a nice, thin New England salsa.

There's also cream soda, another unbranded flavor. But cream soda isn't so much it's own flavor as it is a variation of root beer. And while that isn't really true either, my point is this: root beer is the only flavor of soda you can order without specifying a brand name. And that makes it that much sweeter. Because all the different root beers are a product of craft and competition, while the different colas are the result of increasing shareholder value.

When you drink a Maine Root Beer or a Virgil's, you can taste hints of wintergreen and clove. And when you drink a coke or pepsi, you're tasting their legal and marketing departments. I actually really like both coke and pepsi and drink them both frequently, but that's because I love the taste of legal and marketing.